Group Homes for Disabled Adults

Group homes for the disabled are an alternative to institutional care. They may be a privately run for-profit business, a nonprofit facility, or run by the government. Privately run group homes do not have government oversight unless they receive government funding. A nonprofit or government-run facility must adhere to certain rules and regulations, which can determine to whom they may provide services.

Man in a wheelchair with a dog
 Frank Siteman / Getty Images

Each facility is different, depending upon state and local regulations, and the options available will vary. However, a group home usually provides:

  • Housing
  • Meals
  • Activities, such as field trips, crafts, and transportation services to medical appointments, shopping, and entertainment

Group Home Residents

Many group homes cater to a particular group, such as disabled adults, teenagers, or children. For this reason, you need to research a group home before committing to a particular one.

Some families believe that a group home setting, in contrast to an institution, provides a community feeling absent in other types of facilities. Relatives report their loved ones who previously lived in an institution seem:

  • More alert and engaged
  • Have regained skills they may have lost while in institutions (such as feeding and toileting themselves)
  • Healthier overall in appearance

Selection Tips

Choosing a group home is a big responsibility. You should sit down and speak with an administrator at length about expectations and needs before choosing a facility.

Do not let administrators rush you through the interview, and make sure they answer all of your questions to your satisfaction. The administrator should welcome your questions and not be agitated. If they seem unable to answer your questions or appear irritated by them, look for a better run facility that is open to your inquiries and concerns.

Things to Look For

The following are things to look for when choosing a group home:

  • Does the facility look and smell clean? Ask to inspect a resident room.
  • Do the current residents look (and smell) clean and well-groomed?
  • How do they handle urgent health concerns?
  • Are medical professionals available on-site to care for special-needs patients around the clock?
  • Who will administer medicine?​
  • How do the employees interact with visitors?
  • Who assists the residents in keeping in contact with their family, and how will they accomplish this (i.e. TTY, letters, phone calls, video calls)? 
  • For employees who interact with residents, what type of training course did they complete, and how long was the training?
  • What are the week's scheduled activities?
  • Do the employees seem engaged with the residents, or are most of the residents alone?

Visiting a group home should occur more than once when you are in the selection process, and preferably at least once unannounced. This should give you a good idea of what things are like during their day-to-day operation. After you choose a facility, it is important to visit regularly so you can spot potential problems or abuses.

Resources for More Information

To find out more about group homes, residential homes or nursing homes for the disabled, contact the following organizations in your state or locality:

  • State Department of Health and Human Services
  • Division of Developmental Disabilities
  • State Human Rights Committee
  • Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (New York )

By Charlotte Gerber
Charlotte Gerber is a disability writer and advocate. She has made a career of educating the public about various diseases and disabilities.