A new project launched by the Colel Chabad charitable organization together with Israel’s Ministry of Social Services and Welfare is working to provide disabled adults with communal apartments specifically intended to address their individual challenges and needs.
The first apartments, located next to the Grabski Rehabilitation Center in Migdal HaEmek in northern Israel, provide the residents with completely independent and private living spaces.
The Center itself houses 40 residents between the ages of 18-50, all of whom are challenged with varying issues in mobility and functioning. Colel Chabad works in a variety of ways to help those in need through programs and initiatives that run throughout the year.
The Grabski Center provides therapies, treatment and care for those with multiple sclerosis and other debilitating muscular diseases. It also houses the country’s first interactive technology music therapy room for inpatients and a gardening and art program as well. The apartment project comes as the result of an initiative by the Social Services and Welfare Ministry, which launched a pilot aimed at placing disabled Israelis in community-based settings such as private apartments where they can benefit from a sense of true independence. In many cases, this meant a move from placement in institutional living.
The Grabski Center, already in operation for close to 10 years, was identified as the model to launch the program. In advance of moving into the independent units, residents undergo life-skills training which take into account their occupational limitations, in order to help them adjust to this new mode of living.
The first six occupants of the two new apartments are already living at the Center, and plans are in place for new residents who have been living with family members. The residents all have the option of choosing their daily schedules, decorating their apartments, preparing their own meals and laundry, as well as taking part in activities both in and out of the center. “The objective of this pilot program, which is now developing into a successful initiative, is to show our residents that their disabilities don’t need to completely preclude their ability to live independently, with a sense of personal dignity,” said Kobi Vizel, director of the Grabski Center.
“We are encouraged by the success of this effort and believe that it can serve as a model for facilities in other parts of the country – and even abroad – to restore a sense of normalcy to people forced to deal with very difficult daily challenges.” The apartment and rooms were designed to offer a high degree of disability accessibility and “user friendliness.” All units are “smart homes” with windows, doors and electric blinds all controlled by simple button functions to allow for maximum independence and functionality. The tenants are supported by staff on site at all times in order to assist them when needed. “The goal is not simply for us to help but to discover ways that the beneficiaries truly need our help and respond to those needs,” said Rabbi Sholom Duchman, International Director of Colel Chabad. “When we first suggested the apartments to our residents, some of them refused,” said Vizel.
“They were used to the personal attention that our staff to resident ratio offered at the Grabski Center, and were nervous that they wouldn’t get that same care if they moved over. But once the first occupants moved in and were able to experience a new level of independence, the interest from our other residents really grew.”