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At 60, Jeffrey had never been to a beach. He grew up in a training center for individuals with significant disability, where “vacations” were just visits to other parts of the campus.

A few years ago, Jeffrey came to live in one of our intermediate care facilities. These are like group homes, but for individuals with significant behavioral or healthcare needs. At an ICF, individuals receive all of the services they received at a training center, just in a smaller, homier setting.

“I could never stay long enough on the shore; the tang of the untainted, fresh, and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought.”

Helen Keller

Many families weren’t so sure about ICFs at first. Training centers weren’t ideal–but they were safe. For decades, experts believed training centers were the only way to serve individuals who had severe needs that required round-the-clock nursing, therapies and more.

In the past 10 years, the tide had been turning. Now, the theory was that individuals were best served in their communities. Through trial and error, service providers learned that individuals could receive the same standard of care–and in some cases, better–for less money in the community.

So we started ICFs as a way to provide that care, here in the greater Fredericksburg area. Families were understandably nervous. But they took leaps of faith and allowed us to care for their loved ones. And we are so honored and grateful for the privilege.

There are so many things to love about community-based care. It provides an opportunity to truly individualize care for each person. And that takes us to the beach. For most of us, a beach trip is a simple enough excursion. But when you have a significant disability, it requires a lot of planning and support.

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.”

Robert Wyland

A man with disability and two caregivers at the beach

At RACSB, we practice person-centered planning, which means that the individual receiving services is the most important part of the plan. We don’t look at what supports we have and decide which ones fit a person. We first look at what they need to lead their ideal life. So when a beach trip came up for Jeffrey, our direct service professionals jumped in and did the hard work to make it a reality.

And that provided us with an amazing opportunity–to witness Jeffrey feel waves tickle his feet for the first time. As you can see, he wasn’t so sure at first.

But that hesitance didn’t last long. Jeffrey was soon lounging on the sand and chilling by the pool.

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