Young woman leaning towards another woman in a wheelchair wearing a "straight outta the nursing home" tee shirt

Throughout our lives we will experience many transitions; from school to work, a move across the country, becoming a parent, and so many more. One of life’s transitions that many of us don’t think about is the day we may not be able to live on our own, and will need the services of a nursing and rehabilitation facility. While a nursing home can be a great option and provide excellent care, there are many individuals that wish to transition from a nursing home and back to a community-based setting. The barriers facing an individual wishing to transition back to the community are numerous and unique; the Nursing Facility Transitions (NFT) program at Disability Advocates works with each participant to develop their own Person Centered Plan to address their barriers to improve the transition process, avoid re-hospitalization, and any other issues that can arise without proper planning and attention to detail.

In July, Disability Advocates Transition Navigator, Jeanette Tibstra, worked to successfully move two individuals out of nursing homes and into their own apartments. Doug and Julia have two very different stories, but each of them faced barriers to finding appropriate and accessible housing to meet their needs in the community. Let’s meet Julia.

Julia’s Story

Julia was referred to our NFT program in November of 2018, as she wished to find a place to live in the community. At the time, Julia had been in the nursing facility for 3 ½ years! Julia had been living in her own apartment when she developed a bad infection in her knee. Despite going into a facility to treat her infection and build up her strength, Julia ended up needing a knee replacement, which unfortunately did not help her infection. Her left leg was amputated in January of 2019, shortly after being referred to the NFT program. It was after her amputation that Julia’s outlook changed… for the better! She’s said that she felt ‘set free’ following the amputation of her leg, and had the energy to move forward and plan her own life that didn’t revolve around constantly fighting off an infection. In April, Julia received notification that her name had come up on the Section 8 waiting list, and she and Jeanette attended her orientation together in May. That same afternoon, something just short of a miracle occurred when Jeanette found an opening for a one bedroom apartment at a Senior Complex that accepted Section 8! A couple of phone calls were made, and we learned there wasn’t a wait for the apartment, though it wouldn’t be available until August 1st. This gave Julia time to focus on continued rehab and building strength prior to leaving. We planned, and shopped until we dropped for Julia’s move!

Julia could not be happier to be out on her own again! When asked what has been the best thing about getting into her own apartment, she’ll tell you that she’s glad she’s not living in one little room anymore. “I’m home now, and this is MY home! I feel like I have a hundred little rooms I can go in; my own kitchen, my bedroom, my bathroom, my living room, and I can go down the hall when I want to do my laundry, and when I come back, it’s still my home!” It may sound simple, but having your own place to call home is something that many of us take for granted. It’s the big things, and also the little things, as Julia might say, “Don’t forget to say how happy I am to have GOOD toilet paper!”

Julia, we are so happy for you!


Jeanette Tibstra, Transitions Navigator

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