If you have ever had the chance to rub shoulders with people who have true vision and passion you know that it is a special opportunity and experience. Last week I had the privilege of being in a room full of leaders who are focused on serving teens and young adults in the transition and independent living segment of the Pediatric Special Care industry. From the moment I walked into the first session I realized that I was participating in something incredibly special. There were leaders from 21 different states representing 47 different types of transition and independent living resources. It was not by chance that this meeting was taking place at Marbridge in south Austin, Texas. Marbridge has been a thought leader in this space for the last 50 years and is one of our newest featured partners on the CareStarter platform.
What is Marbridge?
It was clear to me that this group came together to network and share ideas about how to build unique models of care for individuals who have special healthcare needs and they could not be in a better place. Marbridge is a vibrant community that provides residential care to more than 240 adults with intellectual disabilities. Unlike group homes for mentally challenged adults, their 170-acre campus consists of three interconnected communities where they provide varying levels of care—from skilled nursing and physical rehabilitation services, to assisted living, to semi-independent care.
At breakfast the topics of conversation varied from how to build a more sustainable model of community to a conversation about restrictions around government waiver programs and why many of the programs choose not to accept them as payment. I felt as if I had been to a mini-conference before I settled in for the keynote session that was to be delivered by Jonathan Mooney author of the book “The Short Bus: a journey beyond normal”. His passion was contagious as he admonished us to view disability as diversity, to recreate and re-define normal, and to focus on the strengths/abilities of others. As the day went on I was amazed at the variety resources that this group had innovated and created. It became clear as the day progressed that the people in this room represented a vibrant ecosystem of innovation, collaboration, and creativity.
Building a Model of Support for Pediatric Special Care
After every new conversation, I grew increasingly excited as I thought about how the platform that we have built at CareStarter would be connecting families who have a young adult with special healthcare needs to this amazing ecosystem of care and compassion. At dinner I was captivated by Dr. Debra Caudy’s vision of building a model of supported living for adults who are on the moderate to severe side of the Autism Spectrum. I could not help but smile as she touted the value and ability of this population as well as the fact that they have gone largely un-served. I met so many quality people each one as passionate as the next. Even the names of resources seemed to affirm the value of these models with names like Opportunity Village, Down Home Ranch, Pathfinder Village, and Safe Haven Farms just to name a few.
As the Marbridge Leadership Summit and Conference came to a close, I became truly aware of just how lucky I had been to be at this conference introducing people to CareStarter and learning about the resources that are being created and innovated in the areas of transition and independent living. I am more confident than ever that the future of the Pediatric Special Care is bright and that families will have a lot to look forward to as this group and others like it push the envelope of innovation and social good and the CareStarter platform will be there helping families to connect to these resources every step of the way!