(Crystal Brockington left, Stephanie Klima right)
Stephanie is one of the dozens of individuals the IMAGE Center has helped transition from living in a nursing facility to living independently in the community.
8 years ago, Stephanie was placed in a group home after being diagnosed with pulmonary embolism. She was then moved to assisted living, and eventually to Manor Care Ruxton nursing facility where her health was stabilized. At the nursing facility, Stephanie met Crystal, a Peer Support Specialist from the IMAGE Center.
Crystal was helpful in showing Stephanie all the possibilities for living in the community. Luckily, after being on the waiting list for public housing for 8 years, Stephanie received a housing voucher at around the same time the Community Options Waiver program made the determination that Stephanie could move out of the nursing facility. A lot of paperwork was involved, but Crystal was there to support Stephanie as they worked together to make the move a reality.
LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY
Stephanie has always been an independent-minded person, and she is now extremely independent living in her own home in the community. She feels like she has power over what she does every day. Stephanie has MTA Mobility, taxi access, and the option of going to the League for People with Disabilities, to the Towson Center pool, or to the movies if she chooses. She is free to cook whenever she wants, she can have visitors as she pleases, and she can play music all the time. She manages her own medication, gets the durable medical equipment she needs, and was able to keep all of her doctors. She also gets 6 hours of personal care assistance per day in her home. Her budget is balanced and she says she has no financial worries. She enjoys a level of privacy that was never given to her in the nursing facility.
Stephanie says she now feels like she has a purpose, and her ambition to look really nice every day has returned. She is getting out more and is spending more time with her children and family. She recently went to her son’s graduation after he finished nursing school, and she feels like she is much more involved in playing the role of a mother. She is also motivated to put her professional experience as a makeup artist back to work again, and is considering getting involved as a volunteer to help women with disabilities feel beautiful.
Stephanie says she has changed a lot, and she’s a person who doesn’t normally like change, but these changes are good.
ADVICE TO OTHERS
During an interview, Stephanie said, “It’s important for people to understand that they should get on the [public housing waiting] list, because if I hadn’t gotten on the list 8 years ago, I wouldn’t have gotten out [of the nursing facility]. All the organizations worked very hard and very diligently; everything was explained to me. It’s not hard to do it if you just have the mindset to do it. If you don’t have the resources, all you have to do is ask, and they will help you.”
Crystal says that Stephanie was never scared to ask questions and openly talk about her concerns. Good communication is very important for making a successful transition from a nursing facility to the community. Crystal also mentioned that Stephanie was very proactive and involved in moving out of the nursing facility – “It’s doable for anyone if you really want it and you work hard enough for it,” said Crystal. With Stephanie’s involvement and commitment to open communication, and Crystal’s hard work and commitment to coordinate Stephanie’s transition, together they made a winning team.
Stephanie offers this advice to people who are considering moving from a nursing facility to the community: “You really need to decide that you want this independence – you want it 150%, and you have to go for it 150% on any avenue you need, which means documentation, communication, getting the paperwork done – and then that gives you hope. You see yourself moving along in the process and that gives you even more hope and gratitude; it makes you more humble and grateful, and it makes you happy that you’re here. I think a lot of us get stuck and we don’t quite know how to get out of the rut. People who want to take this journey – they need to not be prideful, and they need to take these opportunities when they become available.”
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