The combination of the age, severe disability, and older age of the parents of day participants mean that some of their families needed to find a housing solution for their disabled child. The families sought a high-quality, appropriate solution to allow their children to continue visiting the Beit Noam Daycare Center. Beit Noam offered the solution of community housing, as is accepted practice in most developed Western countries.
In 1997, the first such apartment opened in collaboration with daycare participants’ parents. As of today, the housing infrastructure consists of five apartments. The apartments have been renovated and adapted for the residents’ special needs, and each apartment houses five residents. Alin Beit Noam runs the apartments under the supervision of the Ministry of Welfare.
Most of the staff working in the apartments are national service or pre-military service graduates who finished their service and began working in Beit Noam or students who are studying in one of the local academic institutions and combine shift work with their studies.
One of the staff members working in the apartments described the work as follows:
“The work in the Beit Noam apartments allows you to be you – the best possible version of you. The work is enjoyable, and beyond the incredible feeling of satisfaction, there is a genuine connection and love between the residents and the staff members.”
The residents live in heterogeneous apartments which represent the Beit Noam population as a whole, and its outlook that all people are born in the image of G-d, or as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” In accordance with these beliefs, there are residents with severe intellectual disabilities living together with residents with mild intellectual disabilities, as well as residents who can speak living together with residents who use alternative communication. In addition, some of the residents have medical complexities that require therapeutic intervention.
Three staff members assist each resident on every shift helping them with whatever they need: eating, dressing and social skills. We strive to maintain a homely atmosphere, with each resident having their own corner and the possibility to express their individuality through their hobbies and preferences. Life in the apartment also includes shared experiences such as leisure outings and trips during vacation periods.
Alin Beit Noam is cognizant of the residents’ maturity and the apartments allows them maximum independence.
The apartments started as a solution to a need raised by the families, but over the years, it has turned into the realization of a dream for daycare center participants who wished to leave their parents’ homes and to live with their friends from the daycare center.
In the State of Israel, community housing for this population is a groundbreaking endeavor.