From Family Home to Home of Their Own: Stacy and Druanne Lockwood's Story
By Christine Stehly
All good parents have a vision of their children's future that includes the eventual building of a life of their own as independent adults. That vision sometimes has to be modified if a son or daughter has severe disabilities. In 1980, Audrey and Bob Lockwood of Minneapolis latched onto the idea that their two daughters could live in a home of their own, independent of their parents, even though both women have severe cognitive and physical disabilities. The process of making that idea a reality took the next five years.
Stacy and Druanne Lockwood once shared a five-bedroom home with their parents. As the women entered their early twenties, Audrey and Bob thought the house would be a perfect place for their daughters to live with other women their own age. In 1984, after encountering difficulty in implementing the plan owing to changes in the law governing group homes, the Lockwoods were ready to give up on the idea. Their housing concept was categorized as a group home by the state, and a hold on funds to create such housing was in effect.
Then in 1984, the Medicaid HCBS program entered the picture in Minnesota. Waiver services permitted the plan to be put into action by making funding available for a staff to come into private homes to assist families. Interviews were conducted with various management companies, and one was selected. The director of the management company became a "foster parent" to the women to fulfill requirements for the home's licensing to receive additional funding. Roommates were found among Stacy and Druanne's coworkers at a developmental achievement center. Thus, in the fall of 1985, Audrey and Bob moved out of their home and turned it over to their daughters, two roommates, support providers, and the management company.
During the first two years of the arrangement it was difficult to stabilize the household because of support provider turnover. That has since changed; the newest staff member was hired almost three years ago. Of the three female staff members who live at the house, two are present whenever the four women residents are home. When the Lockwoods and their roommates are at work, the staff are at other jobs.
Just like any other home, each person has responsibilities and interests. Each housemate, with assistance from staff, contributes to cleaning duties, meal preparation, and grocery shopping. Currently, all four women work at a developmental achievement center; Audrey and Bob are in the process of helping Stacy and Druanne find other work, however, because they would like their daughters to be able to interact more with people other than their roommates. Out-of-the-home leisure activities include attending a weekly club at church. Other leisure activities are in-home with roommates or alone; Audrey and Bob are exploring ways for their daughters to increase their social involvements through community group activities at least three times a month.
The Lockwoods' arrangement hasn't been without problems. The parents haven't always been satisfied with the management company. They feel there have been breakdowns in communication, leaving Audrey and Bob uninformed about changes they consider important. There have been disputes about whether home maintenance is being adequately handled by the company. Other management firms have been approached, but they share one problem: They all want the Lockwoods to hire a live-in husband and wife couple as a solution to the maintenance problem. Audrey and Bob don't want a live-in couple because they would take on the role of parent figures. They want Stacy and Druanne to continue to live on their own with female peers, not second parents. If a satisfactory arrangement with a management company can't be made, Audrey and Bob will consider moving back into the home. This, however, would reduce their daughters' independence and is seen as a last resort.
Despite all the challenges, Bob and Audrey remain committed to their daughters' having a home of their own and living their lives in the community and recognize that their own role needs to remain an active one.
Note: Since the above article was written in 1990, several changes have taken place. The original staff model was a three-staff "live-in" model. There were problems with staff turnover and coordination. This led to a change in selection of the management team. The second management team operated with a "live-in House Mother" model. This led to the type of concerns mentioned in the above article about whose home was it and whose values and morals were being followed. The second management team suddenly left and took Stacy's and Druanne's roommates with them. Audrey and Bob (the parents) were forced to move back into the home for a year to care for their daughters.
Since 1994, the home has been running smoothly. A third management team that uses a "shift staff" model with a coordinator in charge is now in place. This seems to be the best option based on the family's experience. The relationship between the Lockwoods and the service provider's management team and staff has been very workable.
Adapted with permission from Impact 3(1), 1990, published by the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota.