What Are Community Living Services?

Last updated on February 19th, 2024 at 07:19 pm

If you or one of your loved ones is unable to live with full independence, you may be worried about finding the care you need. There are countless nursing homes, public institutions, and other establishments for people who are aging or who experience disabilities, but it’s hard to tell which ones will provide what you need.

One option you should strongly consider is community living services. This person-centered assistance style focuses on helping adults achieve some level of independence, participate in their communities, and live as they choose.

What Is Community Living?

Community Living Services help adults with a wide variety of abilities live semi-independently in apartments or houses. These programs often help older adults, people with developmental disabilities, major behavioral challenges, mental illness, dual diagnoses, or traumatic brain injury.

In the U.S., including Western Washington, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have the right to community living. There are a number of state, national, and international laws designed to help people stay integrated in their communities with a good living environment.

Community living is about far more than just having a place to live outside of an institution. It’s also about being able to navigate your community, find work based on your abilities, attend worship services based on your beliefs if you want to, protect your personal health and safety, and make your own decisions as much as possible. Participants have a say in where they live and who they live with, although factors like availability can also influence where someone stays.

Depending on the participant and their needs, community living services can include:

  • Physical help with daily tasks like dressing and eating.
  • Help with making decisions and planning for the future.
  • Help with grocery shopping, menu planning, and cooking.
  • Help with budgeting, paying bills, and other financial matters.
  • Help with medications.
  • Help with transportation.
  • Social and recreational activities.

Community living strives to offer support based on the needs and preferences of the participant. It encourages the participant to make decisions about their own life. In situations where a community living participant has challenges with communicating their preferences, family members and caregivers often step in to help.

What Is Community Living Like?

community living

Community living can look very different depending on the person, their needs, and their preferences. Some participants live in apartments with individualized support. Others live with one or two other people, with host families, or in small group homes with other community living participants and 24/7 support. Either way, participants live in a neighborhood, not in a separate facility for people with disabilities or special care needs.

People in community living situations have the opportunity to select their own menus, do or help out with their own cooking, and make decorative choices about their homes. They also get to choose who visits their home and how they want to spend their time.

A Community Living Services provider will identify goals for each participant by going through a person-centered planning process with the participant and their family. From there, they will help the participant achieve their goals and develop self-determination by providing needed support for daily living.

Community Living Services are centered on helping adults with disabilities live as actively in the community as they choose. Service providers aim to ensure all citizens have the same opportunities to choose where to live, earn a living, participate in society, and make decisions about their lives.

What Are the Benefits of Community Living?

There are several major advantages of using community living services rather than a public institution or nursing home:

1. Social connection.

People participating in Community Living can often have a level of social connection that they may not have in a nursing home or other institutional setting. They will have numerous opportunities to interact with neighbors, family members, and friends.

In many cases, participants will have opportunities to work alongside people of all ability levels.

2. Lower costs.

Community living is less expensive than other options for most participants. A skilled nursing facility may cost $75,000 a year or more, and public residential facilities for people with disabilities are often hundreds of thousands of dollars. These costs are rarely covered by Medicare or private health insurance.

Unlike nursing and residential facilities, community living has been established as a legal right. In 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v. L.C. that people with disabilities must receive services in the most integrated settings possible.

3. Voice in the community.

People with disabilities and older adults often have unique perspectives that benefit the communities they live in. They tend to offer new ways of thinking about the world and wisdom collected over decades of life.

With Community Living Services, these adults are able to stay more active in their communities as co-workers, volunteers, and friends.

4. Individuals prefer it.

Most people prefer community living over other care options. Community living often gives older adults and people with disabilities more independence than they would have in a nursing facility or public residential space. It also helps participants stay connected with other people in their community, including friends and nearby family.

Community living gives people choices and control over their lives. As a result, participants are more likely to stay engaged in their communities, have friendships, stay safe, and live fulfilling lives.

Making the Choice for Community Living

community living

Community living services are the best choice for many people who need assistance with everyday tasks. While nursing facilities tend to provide a higher level of care, many older adults and people with disabilities do not need 24/7 services. Individuals often prefer living in a community environment to staying in a nursing or assisted living facility.

Community living is also the least expensive care option for many people. After the Supreme Court announced that community living was a legal right for people with disabilities in 1999, these services became much more affordable than nursing or public residential facilities. Medicate, Medicaid, Social Security, and HUD programs often help people pay for community living services.

Where Can I Find Community Living in Western Washington?

Sunrise provides community living services for residents throughout the Everett and Snohomish areas. As a provider of care services, we focus on individuals and seek to help each person live a full life with access to choices and an emphasis on dignity and respect.

We have office locations in Everett, Bellingham, Mount Vernon, Vernon, Stanwood, Concrete, Sedro-Wooley, and Island County. Contact us today to learn more about local community living options.


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