Staff Spotlight: Greg Powers helps lead growth of Adult Services’ Shared Living Program
Greg Powers, Manager of our Supported Community Living Program, arrived at Latham by chance. He was looking for a teaching job on the Cape, but he was surrounded by family and friends in the human service field. “I became interested in the stories I heard about Latham Centers and its programs,” he said, “and the Adult Services Program at Latham felt like a natural fit.”
Greg oversees two Supported Community Living (SCL) program models of individualized services: Independent Living, in which an adult with disabilities lives alone but is supported by Latham staff part-time; and Shared Living, a home care model of support. Latham’s SCL program has evolved in the past several years, both in the number of clients and its place here at Latham. SCL now has six individuals in Shared Living and two in Independent Living. In Shared Living, an adult with special needs is carefully matched with a caring individual, couple, or family who opens their home and hearts – providing support to the individual and earning an income for the support services.
Greg said an important part of his job is to ensure that Shared Living providers receive the supports they need. “We have a group that can get together, share stories, and provide advice and assistance to each other, just as the Adult Services management team here at Latham does on a regular basis. Our providers are supported by specialists like Patrice Carroll, an expert on Prader-Willi syndrome, who oversees all things PWS here at Latham. Providers are educated and trained in many of the same areas staff would be; we work together as a team to provide the best supports possible to the individuals we serve.”
Greg especially loves his role of facilitating long-lasting, safe and happy relationships that allow adults with disabilities to build their daily living skills, have a sense of belonging, and participate more fully in community activities. “My goal is to continue to grow the SCL program here at Latham, both as an agency goal, but also because I believe that it’s a model that can provide a level of independence and community integration that may be more difficult to achieve in the group home model.”
When Greg reaches out to potential providers, he stresses that Latham is here to help them. “I speak with people at length during the matching process, and providers have said afterward that they felt comfortable with me and decided on us because Latham was very involved in the process.” His experience and guidance is also reassuring to the parents of the individuals being served.
“I think the two biggest concerns I hear from parents and guardians are, “What will happen if this doesn’t work out?” and “How will my child (or I) feel with another family taking care of my child?” Greg’s response is that becoming part of the matching process builds confidence and trust. “There are only so many group homes available, but there is an ever-growing pool of potential Shared Living providers. I seek to place the best matching provider with the best matching client, and sometimes that can take a while. But this is not foster care; we are looking to place someone for years to come, and many people wish to do it for life. For the clients with involved families, we aim to make one larger family, not two separate families— and we’ve done this in the past with great results.”
One memorable moment stands out for Greg in his current position. “Our longest Shared Living resident had always maintained that he’d eventually like to move on from Shared Living. But he recently moved with his current provider from one home to another and was very involved in the process. He called me shortly after the move to say he was really happy and that he’d like to stay with his provider forever.” Greg said he was moved knowing that through Shared Living, the individual’s hopes for independence and belonging were met. “SCL is client-centric, and so are the positive outcomes. For some, it is becoming the person they wanted to be but were unable to under a more restrictive model. For others, it is a dramatic reduction in behaviors after going from a 4- or 5-to-1 ratio of clients to staff to a reversed ratio of 1 client to 4 (or more) people supporting that individual. And for some who have no family, it’s finally having that normalcy that comes with having an actual family, as opposed to rotating staff members.”
Greg looks forward to continued program success. “We’re going to keep growing, keep improving, and keep identifying those who might be a good fit for this alternative Adult Services Program here at Latham Centers. It’s a privilege to be helping our residents enjoy their lives to the fullest.”