An Overview of Independent Living
What is Independent Living?
Independent Living is having control over one's life. This means being able to choose and control the decisions and directions for one's life to the fullest extent of capability. Persons with disabilities have been historically denied the right and opportunity to make their own decisions.
Independent Living is also a philosophy that advocates for the availability of a range of services and options which maximize self-reliance and self-determination in all of life's activities. Independent Living includes the right of all persons to try and to fail.
What are Independent Living Centers (ILC's)?
Independent Living Centers are private, non-profit, consumer-controlled, community-based organizations providing services and advocacy by and for persons with all types of disabilities. Their goal is two-fold: to create opportunities for independence and to assist individuals with disabilities to achieve their maximum level of independent functioning within their families and communities.
How is Independent Living Achieved?
ILC's assist individuals with disabilities to achieve their self-defined goals through peer counseling, skills training, advocacy, and information & referral. ILC's may also provide a range of other services such as housing referral, communication assistance, support groups, transportation, health information, and much more.
What Else Do Independent Living Centers Do?
ILC's serve as a strong consumer voice on a wide range of local, state, and national issues. They work to assure physical and programmatic access to housing, employment, transporation, recreational facilities and health & social services. They have been instrumental in the development of personal care services and have worked to reduce physical barriers in numerous Massachusetts communities.
Why is Community-Based Living the Most Economically Feasible Option for Persons with Disabilities?
The average yearly cost of institutionalization is $57,000 while the average yearly cost of independent community-based living is $26,000. ILC's are vital links in assisting persons with disabilities to make the transition from costly institution-based settings to more economical community-based living.
Why Are Independent Living Centers a Good Investment?
In FY '08, the 11 ILC's in Massachusetts operated on a combined budget of $5,960,473 (74% was state contributed). Throughout the year, these centers successfully relocated 212 individuals from nursing homes or other institutions to community-based living arrangements, with an additional 84 working toward that goal. This resulted in a savings of $6,714,040 for the Commonwealth.
Consumer-controlled independent living services are a proven and cost-effective method of providing needed support services to persons with severe disabilities. The potential expansion and application of such services is limitless.