A Dream Come True

A Dream Come True

Harry Merica spent all but nine years of his life in institutions. His severe physical disabilities required 24/7 care, but he was still a young man inside and wanted to live an independent life in the community. He dreamed of a home where young adults like himself could live together, have more control over their lives and contribute to society, yet still receive the 24/7 care they required.

Merica House was established in 1995 to bring Harry’s dream to reality. Today, Merica House residents enjoy high quality care yet retain much control over their own lives, unlike in a nursing home. They also have the companionship of peers, other “younger” adults like themselves who have severe physical disabilities, which they would not have if they lived in nursing homes or alone in separate apartments with personal care aides coming to care for them. At the same time, the cost of Merica House is significantly lower than the cost of either nursing home or individual care, saving the commonwealth of Virginia tens of thousands of dollars each and every year.

Residents take part in community activities, use public transportation with assistance, attend workshops, help with fundraising for various causes, go shopping, eat out with family, and more. They talk, watch movies and listen to music together, help each other with problems, tease each other playfully, and make plans together. When they want a break, they retire to their rooms, either private or shared with one other. They enjoy a quality of life and care that would be impossible on their own or in a nursing home, and it is cost-effective. A recent study showed a resident living at Merica House rather than in a nursing home saved the state over $11,000 a year. In addition, the residents of Merica House have their total independence to come and go as they wish.

by Lynne Myhre, Past APD Board Director

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