HOME Choice Guest Column: Russell's story

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

 Russell, right, with Bruce Reller

By Bruce Reller, Jr., Transition Coordinator for Easter Seals TriState

Russell wanted a change in scenery and he wanted to be independent again, living in a home of his own.

He moved to a nursing home in 2014 and didn’t mind the stay, but felt he had been there at least six months longer than he needed to be. At 61, he was also young to be in a facility.

“The nursing home makes you lazy,” Russell said.  “You don’t have to do anything. You get three meals a day. I liked the food there.”

One day, Russell heard about HOME Choice, a program that helps Medicaid beneficiaries move from nursing homes and back into the community. Ohio is a leader in the program nationally. In 2015, Ohio transitioned 1,658 people from institutional settings to homes in the community, more than any other state. HOME Choice ranks first nationally in transitioning individuals with mental illness into home-based settings and second in overall transitions completed. Since the program began in 2008, 8,652 Ohioans have gained newfound independence through HOME Choice.  

Mary Beth, a Council on Aging Community Transitions specialist, assessed Russell for eligibility and Russell then chose Easter Seals Tristate to help him through the process of finding an apartment and settling in.  

With Russell, the process went smoothly, but things don’t always go so well. If someone doesn’t meet certain income requirements or their background raises concerns for landlords, it can be difficult to find an apartment. But, in Russell’s case, we found a place on the third try.

“It was the last apartment available, and I signed at the scene,” Russell said. “Everyone here is nice. They are doing a lot to the building.”

Easter Seals TriState helped Russell with the move, getting everything on his list including furniture and cleaning supplies. He was pleased with the transition and enjoys being on his own again and making his own decisions.

He recently got a new electric scooter which helps him get around for shopping and he’s hoping to get a new TV soon.

“I’m happy here,” Russell said. “Everything is going well. The new management is very good. The building is almost full and there are only one or two people that don’t want to be talked to.”

For me, there is great reward in helping people like Russell and seeing the looks on their faces when they move into their own apartments.