Roanoke County family cares for individual adults with special needs

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) Individuals with special needs face different challenges when they become adults, but there aren't many options for them to get the help they need.

It's craft time in the Connerr household.

Stephanie Conner helps Alice Poage get her paints set up. Poage, she just turned 50 years old, has been living with Conner and her family since last June. She's part of a sponsored residential program which is sort of like foster care but for adults with intellectual disabilities.

"I had no idea there was a need," Conner said. "I never once thought about adults really needing someone to take care of them too."

The the director of admissions at Wall Residences told WDBJ7 that the need is huge.

"There is a need, a great need in Virginia for these residential services," Jackson said.

Over 500 individuals have been placed in 300 homes through the organization.

"Many of the people in our services have been with the same provider family for 5, 10, 15, and in once instance, 20 years," Jackson said.

However, thousands more remain on waiting lists throughout the state of Virginia.

"This is a service that is not well publicized," he added, explaining that the quality of life for the individual is often greater with one-on-one care than in the more traditional group home setting.

"It's incredible, the difference we've seen over the years," Jackson said. "The abilities, the skill sets, is vastly improved through that individualized setting."

But Conner will tell you, its not just the life of the person in her care that is improved.

"It really is hard to even put into words," she said smiling at Poage. "I know we're here to help them, but they've been such a blessing. I don't think of it as work, they're just a part of our family."

Wall Residences is having an orientation session for those who are interested in becoming a Sponsored Residential Provider in Roanoke on Jan. 29 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Anyone interested in signing up for the session can call Lorrie Harrison at 540-745-4216. More information is also on the website.