Models for Residential Support

There are many different community‐based residential service options. Some of these
options combine housing and support services, while others allow the housing and
support services to be purchased and arranged separately. As you read these descriptions, bear
in mind that states may use different terms to describe similar models.

Services in the Community:

  • Supported Living offers services to individuals with disabilities who are able to live in a home or an apartment*. The services, typically minimal in nature, are based on the individual’s specific support needs and are provided by caregivers working under the direction of the individual.
    *As long as the supports are personalized, anyone can benefit from the supported living model, including those with the most significant support needs.
  • Supervised Living (Semi‐Independent Living) offers more direct and intensive
    structured supports available 24 hours a day, if needed. The individual may live in a
    house or apartment, either alone or with others. Functional life skills such as banking, shopping, cooking and going to doctor appointments can be taught or supported by staff.
  • Group Home Living has been the traditional model for residential services
    for individuals with developmental disabilities. In a group home, several
    unrelated people (all of whom have a disability) live together with onsite staff
    who are present 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Instruction focuses on independent living skills and community activities. The house is owned and
    operated by a provider agency that also employs and supervises the staff.
  • Group Living/Ownership (Co‐op) is similar to group home living, except that the house itself is owned by a group of families or individuals who have formed a cooperative agreement. Caregivers hired by the cooperative, and in some cases, by an agency contracted by the cooperative, provide support services.
  • Teaching Family Model/Foster Home Living offers family‐style living with support services available 24/7 by professional teaching parents, usually a married couple. The individual may be the only person with a disability living in the home, or there maybe others with or without disabilities.
  • Farmstead Communities provide residential supports and services for a number of individuals within the context of a working farm

Services in Institutional Settings:

  • Nursing Homes can be used to provide housing and support services to those who are more medically fragile or aged.
  • Developmental Centers are large residential facilities clustered on a campus‐like setting where residents have intensive needs related to their developmental disabilities. Most states no longer run large developmental centers. Some states that operate developmental centers are looking to shift people to more community‐based settings and will only place a person in a developmental center on an emergency basis. A decision to pursue separate housing and support services means the individual and the family will also have to decide if they want to plan and coordinate services on their own, or with the help of an agency.

“Ultimately, it is the people in the life of an individual with ASD that create a
real home. However, the home itself, the physical environment, plays a critical
role in promoting independence and improving the quality of an individual’s life.
A supportive and appropriate physical environment can shift the balance in
favor of the person living a life in their home with the ability to make
meaningful choices and experience greater control over their lives.”