Home Sharing: Exploring the Experiences of Self Advocates, Home Share Providers and Family Members

Home sharing is a residential living arrangement in which one or more adults with intellectual disability shares a home with an individual or family (non-custodial) who is contracted to provide support. Home sharing is the fastest growing residential option in British Columbia increasing 350% over the past 15 years with over 50% of individuals receiving residential support living in home sharing. A paucity of research exists regarding home sharing practices including the experiences of stakeholders affected by home sharing, particularly the individuals with intellectual disability. Using interpretive description, a qualitative method, we explored the home share experiences of adults with intellectual disability, home share providers, family members, and key informants in BC (N = 85). Specifically, we identified factors that contribute to positive home sharing experiences as well as those that constrain and undermine home sharing goals of promoting independence.

Participants overwhelmingly underscored the importance of finding a “good match” where there was a connection and positive relationship between the home sharing members (individual and home share provider). Some further emphasized that family members were an important part of making up the “good match” (both family members of the individual with intellectual disability as well as the home share provider’s family). Pro-active planning was identified as an essential practice to find the “good match”; e.g., individuals entering into a home share relationship should have opportunities to get to know one another (e.g., overnight visits) or have a pre-existing relationship. Other dimensions of pro-active planning included support for providers and individuals with intellectual disability during the transition phase as well as an openness to share necessary information about the individual in order to ensure that proper supports are in place. With respect to ongoing success, findings highlight the importance of ongoing communication and teamwork. Participants’ narratives underscored the complex interactions of stakeholders and systems impacting the home share relationship(s). Communication and teamwork that included everyone was emphasized repeatedly. Finally, participants shared that although transition planning was central to finding a “good match” and successful home sharing experiences “ongoing planning” was essential as all participants’ needs and situations change over time. This became particularly apparent when participants spoke about issues related to aging – both aging for home share providers but also aging individuals with intellectual disability.

These findings contribute to our understanding of how to better support individuals with intellectual disability living in home share as well as the other stakeholders involved in this residential option including service providers and policy makers. Finally, understanding how to meet the residential needs and desires of individuals with intellectual disabilities is in line with Canada’s commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (2006) Article 19a that states: persons with disabilities have the opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement.

Investigators: Rachelle Hole (PI), Tim Stainton, Carole Robinson, Cameron Crawford

Research Team: Sara Lige, Earllene Roberts, Peter Speers, Dale Froese, Leanne Froese