Southwestern Independent Living Center and its employees want disabled area residents to know that they can live on their own.
The non-profit, non-residential agency provides services throughout Chautauqua County in hopes of assisting individuals with disabilities reach maximum independence and an enriched quality of life. Employees work with people living in nursing homes.
"We go in and find out if they're happy with where they are or if they want to move out into the community," said Helen Kern, independent living specialist. "We let them know what their options are. If they want to stay in the nursing home, that's fine. If they want to live in the community, we let them know what's out there."
Located at 843 N. Main St. in Jamestown, the Southwestern Independent Living Center aims to help individuals with disabilities to reach maximum independence and an enriched quality of life.
P-J photo by Scott Shelters
The organization, which serves individuals of any age with any disability, works to help eligible Chautauqua County consumers more effectively define and control decisions affecting their lives by providing these services: advocacy, work incentives planning and assistance, housing advice, tax preparation, living skills training, peer support, information and referral, special transportation, systems advocacy, architectural barrier consultation, equipment loan, and disability awareness training.
"We do not help people find housing unless they ask us," Kern said, "but we give them the tools to get the help."
The living center, which works through the New York State Health Department, has five goals: helping individuals transition from institutional care; expanding access to community-based, long-term support; promoting awareness of long-term supports; collaboration and networking efforts; and improving the knowledge and attainment of community-based, long-term supports.
The living center takes self-referrals, or calls from social workers, family members or ombudsmen. Those considering a move back into the community from a nursing home typically can function on their own or with some assistance.
Once Kern, who handles the outreach aspects of the living center, receives names, she contacts the area nursing homes and meets with social workers, who introduce her to the residents.
"Then, we discuss if they're happy," she said. "If they want to move back, I provide them all types of information."
Even people who think they might have to go to a nursing home can contact the living center to learn more, according to Kern.
Southwestern Independent Living Center is located at 843 N. Main St., Jamestown. Call 661-3010 or visit ilc-jamestown-ny.org for more information.