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'We knew we did a good thing'

Rick was 45 years old and developmentally disabled. His father had just passed away unexpectedly, and while Rick sat in the emergency room without anyone to care for him, a government administrator at Connecticut’s Department of Developmental Services discovered there was not a single bed available for him. It was July 4 weekend, Friday at  five o’clock, and solving this problem appeared to border on the impossible.

Resources for Human Development found a way.

Several people at RHD Connecticut canceled or altered weekend plans and met the challenge. The director met with the unit’s behavior specialists and came up with a plan: A residential facility called Sunset House was full, but they believed they could create the necessary room. Without needing to contact anyone at Central Office for permission or authorization, the RHD Connecticut team sprung into action.

“He came to us with nothing but a bag of clothes, and he needed somewhere to go as soon as possible," says Cassandra Brown, RHD Connecticut’s assistant director. "We knew we had to do the right thing. We did what we had to. We are an organization that will take folks no one else can take. The whole team was in agreement. It was out of the norm for us, and it was very hard. But we just thought: We'll work together, and we'll figure it out."

Within a few hours, a team had been mobilized at Sunset House, a facility that offers round-the-clock staff to serve developmentally disabled people. The nurse was able to transfer Rick’s medication prescriptions. The house manager quickly set up a new bedroom. Brown gathered the residents of the house, explained the situation, and talked about the possibility of offering Rick a temporary home there. Everyone agreed it was important to help Rick out.

"This gentleman had beyond behavioral issues,'' Brown says. "We talked to everyone involved, including visiting homes in the neighbor's homes to give them information and share what we were doing -- while keeping in mind the client's confidentiality. It was the first time we really had to reach out to the other homes in the area, and it turned out that we built very good relationships with our neighbors. After that, they'd see us on the street and say hi, and ask how things were going."

An RHD staff member picked Rick up at the hospital and transported him to the house. The residents were assembled to welcome him, and when Rick walked in the door he smiled and said: “This is my new home.”

“When Rick left us, we were sad,'' Brown says. "We'd developed a behavioral plan for him, and he was starting to progress and doing really well. But that's still one of our favorite stories here. At the end of the day, we knew we did a good thing."