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A Word from the President

February 19, 2010

What Is a Home?

Dennis W. Felty
Dennis W. Felty
President, KHS

What is a home? For many of us, home is a place to eat, sleep and relax, and it represents safety, comfort and family. Home is an important part of defining our identities, and it often reflects our personalities.

Home is at the core of our mission to help people to be fully participating and contributing members of society. Many of the people we support come from a personal experience where home meant sharing their bedroom with over one hundred other people. Home meant extreme isolation and segregation.

Because home defines much of our lives and how others perceive and relate to us, we are very intentional and thoughtful about the homes that are part of the services and supports we provide. At the most basic level, we want to provide homes that are comfortable, safe, well-maintained and clean. Ideally, we intend for each home to have a general ambiance and aesthetic beauty that communicates a valued and respected role in society.

Within Keystone, we pay close attention to the concept of a culturally valued analogue, which means using program models that reflect or approximate similar valued models within society. In terms of a home, following the culturally valued analogue means providing homes that are consistent with the types of homes that are typically valued within society. This means that the homes we provide should not have signs, notices, names or office space that would not be present within a typical home. While it is true that direct support professionals need a convenient space to work, make notes, secure medications, maintain records and access the computer and phone, this space should be modeled after a study or guest room in keeping with the model of a typical home.

Similarly, the neighborhood should mirror the culturally valued analogue for a residential neighborhood. Both the home and the neighborhood should not have a history of negative, adverse or conflicting land use, meaning the homes should not be located in neighborhoods that are industrial or have excessive noise, traffic or fumes.

We take special consideration of the home itself. Home is where we often receive and entertain friends and family, and it should have a welcoming atmosphere. This includes a convenient location, parking, easy access, comfortable furniture, private space, a nice yard and other aspects that encourage guests, friends and family to visit often.

A person's bedroom is a very personal space, and we offer adults the option of private bedrooms, decorated in a personal and individual manner. We believe bedrooms should be furnished in a way that is appropriate for each person's age and culture. Bedrooms include extensive personal possessions and photographs, and beds should be large, comfortable, and decorated with quilts and comforters.

Subtle and not so subtle elements can have a profound effect on perception and role expectations. In order to counter historical and powerful role expectations of marginalization and exclusion, we consider all aspects of the home to assure a positive and valued image. And always, one of the most important considerations is, “Is this a home where I or a member of my family would be comfortable living?”


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