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‘found’ Residential homes build bridge to independence

Mar 11

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Monday, March 11, 2013  RssIcon

GROWING INDEPENDENCE. Andrew Hughes is able to leave the Eber House for three hours every day without supervision, providing opportunities to interact with others in the community.

“WELL, LOST, BUT IN A WAY, FOUND.”

That’s how Andrew Hughes describes his feelings since moving into the Eber House, one of six Meridian Health Services residential group homes.

“I think it’s a blessing,” says Hughes, 32, who is diagnosed with a chronic mental illness. “I had my own apartment and I had food and everything, but there wasn’t any structure to it. I didn’t know how hard it was.”

Upon moving into Eber House in 2009, Hughes says things began to improve.

“When I finally got here, I actually started to relax,” Hughes adds, “because it wasn’t a daily routine by myself, every day, every night of my life.”

Tammy Dodson works at Eber House, supervising two Meridian group homes.

“We provide a safe, protected home for adults who have chronic mental illness,” Dodson explains. “We assist these individuals with daily living skills that they may have never learned. Our goal is to get them as independent as possible, to hopefully live independently.”

Skills that the residents need to acquire include cooking, managing schedules, maintaining finances, and keeping up with their daily medication.

“We’re here to teach and train them and get them to where they can manage their illness,” Dodson says.

The staff is there to help patients to function better in their everyday lives.

“We talk to them about the importance of medications. A lot of them can’t tell you the medication they are taking, but they can tell you what will happen if they don’t take it,” Dodson said.

Patients like Hughes are grateful. He says, “It’s good to be around people.”

‘Some of my life experiences just kind of made me ragged, inside & outside. It’s important that I have a place to go. And this was definitely that place.’ - Army veteran Andrew Hughes suffers from schizophrenia and lives at the Eber House Group Home.

Dodson explained that group homes are an effective means to keep people out of the hospital. She says, “They still have acute moments, you know, but the longer we can keep them out of the hospital and going toward independence is a success.”

Many residents can go on to live well on their own, with periodic checks by Meridian staff, who will contact them two or three times a week. Dodson, who has been with Meridian Health Services since 2005, is a Yorktown native. She is currently attending Indiana Wesleyan University finishing her degree. In 2014, she will enter IUPUI, where she will pursue her master’s degree in clinical psychology. Dodson has grown children of her own and a foster daughter. She also is a grandmother of a 2-year-old. She says she admires Meridian’s vision: treating the whole person.

“In the mental health field, clients get single-tracked, one focus, one direction,” Dodson says. “And people are just now coming to the realization that if you’re a diabetic and you’re having symptoms from your diabetes and you’re struggling with that, that can affect your psychological and emotional well-being. People were not putting that together.

“The reason I came to Meridian was for a paycheck. The reason I stay is because of what we do.”

Hughes is happy living in Eber House. “Some of my life experiences just kind of made me ragged, inside and outside. It’s important that I have a place to go. And this was definitely that place.”

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