New group homes planned

Published 1:26 pm Saturday, July 12, 2008

There’s excitement and anticipation at the Adams Group Home.


Residents will be moving into new surroundings soon.

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Meanwhile, Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota also has exciting news of another kind to help meet the growing demand for services for individuals dealing with brain injuries.

First, the news that has the Adams Group Home residents and staff buzzing.

The Mower County Board of Commissioners unanimously gave their approval July 8 to close the existing Adams Group Home and allow two new group homes to be occupied by clients in Adams and Rose Creek.

“We’re happy the commissioners gave us approval,” said Ann Lazarra, spokesperson for the Adams Group Home who manages LSS facilities in Adams and LeRoy. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. We feel we will be able to operate the two smaller homes more efficiently and they will give our clients a more home-like setting.

“Just like other people enjoy,” she added.

“We’re also very pleased with Lutheran Social Services’ decision to build two new group homes in Adams and Rose Creek and with the approval the commissioners gave for them to relocate,” said Bruce Henricks, executive director of Mower County Department of Human Services.

Lazarra, Linda Soifakis, LSS area director, and Ruth Node were joined by clients Ray Huntley and Rose Winkels, plus her mother, Marian, in making the presentation before the county board.

The proposal was endorsed by the Mower County Department of Human Services.

The twin group homes in Adams and Rose Creek will have less of an institutional-like environment.

Existing clients at the Adams Group Home will occupy the new group homes in the two communities.

Lazarra said Lutheran Social Services Personal Care Service is weighing options for the future of the current group home. It is possible, she said, it could be placed on the housing market and offered for sale.

LSS has no plans to continue to operate the home.

“Currently, there is no demand for our housing in Mower County,” Lazarra said.

Since 1954, LSS has been supporting people with disabilities and currently provides services to over 650 individuals throughout Minnesota.

According to Lazarra, LSS has two four-bed group homes in LeRoy, plus the Riverside group home housing four individuals.

LSS is “looking at” building a new transitional group home in Austin.

In addition, Lazarra said, “We offer in-home support services in Mower County.”

Statewide, LSS offers independent living skills, semi-independent living services, customized living services, adult foster care and respite services as well as residential and in-home support services like the ones offered in Mower County.

A year ago, the Adams Group Home observed its silver anniversary.

She said the Adams Group Home residents are “mainly long-term clients” of LSS.

The Mower County agency plans a series of fundraisers this summer and fall to raise funds for the new transitional home in Austin which will serve individuals with brain injuries.

The 2,800 people hospitalized each year in Greater Minnesota due to brain injuries have few options for comprehensive care following hospitalization.

To meet this gap in service, LSS of Minnesota is opening four transitional homes in Minnesota for people with traumatic brain injuries, including the one in Austin.

Transitional homes, staffed by brain injury specialists, will offer round-the-clock care for up to two years. Brain injury specialists will coordinate care plans including physical, speech and occupational therapy; mental health services; job training; memory care; and neurology services. Homes will accommodate four individuals and include adaptive equipment, a fitness area, private bedrooms and accessible bathing facilities.

“Our goal is to help people with brain injury return to life in the community as quickly as possible,” explained Nancy Rosemore, senior director for LSS of Minnesota. “We know that the first two years following a brain injury are the most critical, the time when the best progress can be made. That is where we want to make a significant difference in the lives of people with brain injuries.”

Rosemore said that individuals who have a brain injury most often transition to a nursing home. While most nursing homes can assist with physical needs, usually they are oriented toward the needs of seniors. Many are unable to address other therapeutic needs and may not be an ideal setting for younger patients.

The idea for a transitional care option evolved out of focus groups organized by LSS, which already serves families who have loved ones with a brain injury in a longer-term community home.

The Austin home is expected to open in December.

Moorhead, St. Cloud and the Twin Cities metro area are locations for the other three homes that will be built later this year or next year.

For now, the approval of the two new group homes at Adams and Rose Creek is reason for celebration at the Adams Group Home.

“We’re all very happy and excited. This is a big day for all of us,” Lazarra said.