Diana and Kevin McConnell haven’t seen their son, Ryan, since March 9. Eileen Nesselt has not seen her son, Robert, since mid-March. These families along with many others, whose loved ones live in Independent Living Association (ILA) group homes throughout the New York City area, have had their lives dramatically changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following mandatory State and OPWDD guidelines, ILA–which operates over 35 homes throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island–was required to suspend all personal visits to group home residents.
Good news though!
A message from Arthur Palevsky, the Executive Director of ILA, recently notified families that in-person visits to group homes will be allowed once again. Of course, there are policies, procedures, and guidelines that must be followed to ensure the safety of the residents, the families and the staff. House managers will determine the specifics of the visits.
The McConnell family, with the assistance of the group home staff, has only been able to have video visits with Ryan every Saturday afternoon as well as send him care packages. With visitations set to restart, they know how happy Ryan will be to see them in person very shortly. Along with their other children, the McConnells are anxious to resume their Sunday outings with Ryan when permitted.
Similarly, Mrs. Nesselt has been speaking with Robert every day and occasionally through video visits when opportunity presents. However, as a mother, she would constantly wonder how Robert has experienced the separation. Even though the staff of the Canarsie home and the entire ILA leadership have been incredibly helpful and supportive, the hugs and personal closeness have been sorely missed by both parent and child.
Robert and Ryan themselves, like many of the almost 250 intellectually and developmentally disabled residents of ILA’s group homes, have also missed the daily Day Hab activities. No announcements have been issued concerning the re-opening of the Day Habs.
In the meantime, the inventive group home staff will find ways to keep their residents engaged, productive, and most importantly, safe and healthy.
For a complete list of policies and procedures for Visits to ILA Sponsored Homes click here.