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Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

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Finding a Group Home

Q. My brother is 35. He was born brain damaged. He looks normal but is slow. We live in Nashville, Tennessee and I am trying to find a great, caring, supporting place for him to live. My parents and him are driving each other crazy.

He is mentally like a 10- to 25-year-old. He does need a guardian. The doctors at the place he goes to now for daily escapes and counseling suggested places for him to live. When they visit for an admittance to a group home, it is so nasty and smoke-filled. I don't understand how doctors are suppose to help find a place for so many men when I know for sure they wouldn't be caught dead there themselves.

My brother is a wonderful loving man and I just want him to be taken care of and enjoy life as much as he can. Can you please help me find a suitable place?

A. I know this is a difficult problem for you and your family, and maybe not one that has any perfect solutions. Finding loving, humane, clean, and well-staffed residential settings for the developmentally disabled is far from easy.

I suggest you start by contacting your area Department of Mental Retardation or Department of Mental Health, and seeing if someone there can advise you on appropriate placement settings for your brother. In addition, there is a website called "Voice of the Retarded", which provides information and views for those in your position (www.vor.net).

There is also a website called Friends on Wheels (http://www.ajwwebservices.com/fow/housing.html) that does provide help on finding housing for those with various disabilities. You might also call the Orange Grove Center in Chattanooga (629-1451). They require placement in their facility before the client is 18 years old; however, they may be able to advise you on places near you that would admit your brother.

Finally, there is a place called Hope House, in Selmer, Tennessee. It is intended for children with developmental disabilities, but its founder, Wanda Gant, and her husband, Rev. Ferdinand Gant, may be able to point you toward good facilities for someone your brother's age. I wish you the best in your search.

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December 2002

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