We all value being as independent as possible in life. Those of us who have disabilities at young ages spend a lot of time wondering what will happen when our support system, often parents, are gone.

The fear of ending up in a nursing facility is a real one in the disability community. Too often, individuals with disabilities receiving MediCal are entering nursing facilities after a fall, for example, hoping it is short term and getting stuck due to share of cost.

Unfortunately, the way the system is designed, these people are finding themselves having to stay in the facility and losing their homes. They are required to give up all of their monthly income to pay the facility and are only given a $35 “Personal Needs Allowance.” This “allowance” makes it impossible to save up to return to community-based living.

Thankfully, there are programs like California Community Transitions Program (CCT) that assist people to get back to an independent environment. The Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC) is a lead organization for the CCT program in Santa Barbara and can help people to find housing, apply for and set-up in-home care, and purchase start-up items for their new home.

The average total cost of living in a nursing facility is $90,000 per year. A community-based program that still utilizes MediCal would be less than half of that.

The truth is, there are plenty of people who need to be in a nursing facility, but there are many who do not. These people should be living as independently as possible with community support.

Dani Anderson, executive director
Independent Living Resource Center Inc., Santa Barbara