At North Coast Community Homes we state our mission as providing safe, comfortable, and affordable housing for people with developmental disabilities, serious mental illness, and other disabilities. But we have the opportunity to live that mission in many different ways.

If we looked at our mission through the narrowest of lenses, we’d simply provide a room, a space in a house. We don’t. NCCH provides “homes.” This begs the question then, what is it that makes a house a home? Yes, it’s safe and it’s comfortable. It’s a place you can feel secure. It’s also a part of a larger community, because a home is a place where you are happy and loved for who you are. That’s harder to provide, but we think we’re making inroads.

Recently, we met with social workers from University Hospitals Health System, to tell them about North Coast Community Homes, and also Accessible Homes. We spoke about our mission. We also shared the practicalities and how that relates to the work they do. We talked about the importance of “accessibility” for people who are being discharged from the hospital after an injury, or surgery, or a progressive illness. We talked about how making home modifications for accessibility can reduce hospital readmittance (from further accidents) and improve people’s quality of life.

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The impact of a person’s home on their quality of life and overall health is often overlooked for people with developmental disabilities, as well as for people with acquired disabilities from brain injury, rheumatoid arthritis, or other accidents and conditions. Being able to maintain some level of independence in the home is essential to a person’s well-being, and we know from research that a person’s mood and attitude has a tremendous impact on both recovery and on their long-term health. For many who are unaware of the modifications that can be made to the home, their only choice seems to be a long-term or intermediate care facility. It’s not a choice they look forward to or one that brings a great sense of optimism or joy.

That’s why, with the help of a grant, we’ve begun educating audiences about the importance of and options around “accessibility.” If social workers, doctors, discharge coordinators, families, and others know what options are available, then they can make informed choices. They can have a greater sense of hope, and preserve a greater level of independence. They can feel confident that, even if they have to spend a short time in a nursing home or other facility, they’ll eventually be home again. And home is where the heart is.

The meeting with University Hospitals is hopefully just the first of many. We’re excited for other opportunities to provide information about accessibility, and give a voice to those who are not always able to advocate for themselves. Some may say advocating for people with developmental and other disabilities doesn’t seem core to our mission. We see the potential of it though. We see the opportunity to lay the foundation for creating more inclusive communities so that more houses can become homes. Our mission may be to provide homes, but it feels really good to be a part of helping more people feel happy, safe, comfortable in their home – whether it’s a North Coast Community Home or not.