Ripples – St. Joseph Home
By Carrie Shoemaker, St. Joseph Home communications and grant manager
Facing and meeting the needs of the most vulnerable for 145 years, St. Joseph Home is a nonprofit organization located in Sharonville, Ohio, that serves the support needs of individuals living with developmental disabilities, complex medical needs and whom depend on a wheelchair for mobility. Their services include an Intermediate Care facility that provides a loving home and support for medically complex infants, children and adults in addition to a Respite Service, an Adult Day Program and a Community Home.
Katie, the mother of a St. Joseph Home resident, shares the story of their family’s difficult decision to make St. Joseph Home a permanent residence for their son.
My husband, Tom, and I first learned about St. Joseph Home in 2001 after our son, Tommy, spent a number of months in the hospital. Tommy was 5 years old at the time. At that point, we knew that we needed some time away to reconnect with our other children, Matthew, then 7 years of age, and Annie, then 3 years of age. Although we received state-funded nursing care to support Tommy’s medical needs, finding nurses to cover three or four days in a row proved exceptionally challenging and very frustrating. Because of this, our extended family also became very involved in providing care for Tommy at home.
While my mother was busy with the day-to-day hands-on care of Tommy, my father began researching various respite centers and residential homes. The search ultimately led us to the Harold C. Schott Respite Center at St. Joseph Home where individuals are eligible to stay for two to 14 days and receive 24/7 state-of-the-art medical care. Guests feel safe and secure while their families rejuvenate and take care of themselves. More than 80 families consistently utilize their services every year.
After visiting the Respite Center and meeting with the Respite manager, our family’s hesitation and anxiety about “dropping-off” Tommy were assuaged. Not only were we met with enthusiastic and caring staff, but we were also given the gift of peace and a sense of calm. We knew that St. Joseph Home was different; it felt different the moment we walked in. Using the Respite Center gave us a glimpse into the beautiful and loving community of St. Joseph Home and aided our family in making the decision for the Intermediate Care Facility to become Tommy’s new home in 2007.
Because Tommy is so medically fragile, it was decided that he should utilize the school program on campus called the St. Joseph Academy, which is provided curriculum through the Princeton Public School System. Using adaptive head and hand switches, Tommy was able to participate in classroom activities. Mixing cookie dough, sewing and art projects were just a few of the fun and educational activities that Tommy was able to experience. In addition to his schooling, Tommy works with Direct Support Professionals, nurses as well as physical, occupational and respiratory therapists on his personal goals every day. Through much patience and persistence, Tommy was eventually able to turn his head in both directions, one of his biggest achievements yet!
Today, as a 21-year-old, Tommy has officially graduated from St. Joseph Academy and will gradually transition to the St. Joseph Home Adult Day program located in Blue Ash. The Day Program focuses on communication, skill development, discovery/learning and community belonging so that participants are engaged in the community in which they live. This program will continue to provide the social and mental stimulation that Tommy loves as well as actively explore opportunities to make choices on how he can lead a fulfilled life.
The care Tommy receives at St. Joseph Home is unsurpassed. Tom and I know that he is deeply loved and valued, not just “managed.” We attribute this deep respect and level of care to the mission of the Sisters of Charity. Their deep history and dedication to love, as Christ did, served unwed mothers and their infants when the Sisters founded St. Joseph Infant and Maternity Home in 1873 and continues, today, to serve medically fragile children and adults. It is so amazing to us that what started as a home for unwed mothers has evolved into the loving community that Tommy, and the rest of us, call home. We are deeply indebted to the foresight, vision and mission of the Sisters of Charity. The face of their mission has changed over the years, and we are confident that it will continue to evolve in order to serve the needs of many others for years to come.