More than 300,000 people in California have a developmental disability and, as a population, they are dealing with issues related to aging for the first time. For instance, life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades – from 25 in 1983 to 60 today.
For the past 30 years, Noah Homes has been providing residential care, community advocacy and collaborative services to this underserved population. Now, Noah Homes is working with partners in construction, employment, programming, health care, policy and the nonprofit sector to fill the gap in housing options for those aging with developmental disabilities, making sure they have quality, affordable memory care options suited for their specialized needs.
In November 2016, Noah Homes, joined by elected officials and more than 30 community partners announced the completion of the first memory care homes in California, two of the first in the nation, specifically for people with developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome, Autism, cerebral palsy and others.
The current housing choices for people with developmental disabilities who are dealing with Alzheimer’s are not much of a choice at all. While the average age of admittance to a nursing home is 79, adults with developmental disabilities in need of aging and dementia care tend to be in their 50s and require a higher staff to resident ratio along with specialized care. The US Department of Health and Human Services released a study that found that one-quarter of assisted living communities had a ratio of one Personal Care Assistant for each 23 or more residents.
This is why we were proud to open two 5,000 sq. ft. homes for 20 people with developmental disabilities who have been diagnosed with aging issues, Alzheimer’s or another related dementia. Most homes under Noah Homes management have a staff to resident ratio of approximately 1:4 and 1:6. The new Memory Care Homes have a staff to resident ratio of 1:2 and include state-of-the-art technology, access to national research, and opportunities for residents to participate in groundbreaking new techniques to fight Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other aging struggles.
Residents are selected based off an interest list of adults with developmental disabilities receiving services through the San Diego Regional Center. Project partners are hopeful that plans will be replicated by other organizations throughout California and across the nation, alleviating some of the burden of the 15.5 million caregivers who provided an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care, valued at more than $220 billion in 2013.
“Almost all people with Down syndrome will develop Alzheimer’s as they live into their 60s – starting as early as their 40s – and yet there are no homes specialized for their needs,” said Molly Nocon, CEO of Noah Homes. “As UC San Diego continues to advance research on Alzheimer’s, we are working with organizations around the country to advance quality of care for those affected – obviously, the need is much larger and this is just the beginning.”
Noah Homes is one of the best service providers in San Diego County and the reason they’re one of the best is because, if you think about that phrase ‘Home is where the heart is’ it’s the hearts of the Noah Homes Board of Directors, and their foundation and their staff, it’s their hearts that create the home for people that live in Noah Homes. So why can’t we take it that next step? If you’ve ever been to a nursing home or a sub-acute facility, why can’t we do things differently? Because right now the only alternatives are those alternatives. So I’m happily joining this journey with Molly because we need to do things differently and Noah Homes is certainly deserving of our support.Carlos Flores, Executive Director of San Diego Regional Center
60,000 people today in San Diego County living with Alzheimer’s disease. Out of that, 80 percent of those are being cared for at home, which gets us back to what this project at Noah Homes is all about. To be able to have people that come down with the Alzheimer’s or a related dementia to be able to stay in their home. I learned from Dr. Mobley at UCSD about Down syndrome and the fact that those with Down syndrome, he told me, 100 percent will get Alzheimer’s disease. But as Molly pointed out, as some of the folks, the residents at Noah Homes, are aging, their chances are very good that they will have Alzheimer’s also, or a related dementia… Right now there is no cure. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is basically a death sentence… We must find a cure and I truly believe in San Diego County we’ve got the brightest and the best and I think we will do it here. But there are some things we can do locally to help with that effort also.Dianne Jacob, San Diego County Supervisor
There’s an awful lot of organizations out there that do the same work that we do, some are individual, some have three or four homes. And had they had Liz, it wouldn’t have been long after all of these years, they would have gone to their provider, the Regional Center as it would, and they would say ‘look, she’s gotten old, she’s non-ambulatory, we can’t take care of her and she’s costing us a fortune to take care of her and we need to have her moved. Can you do it in 30 days?’ I’ll guarantee all of you that that thought never ever crossed Sandra or Molly’s mind. They were there with her to send her off. That, ladies and gentlemen, can only happen with people like you who have been so generous not only to Noah Homes, but to the Noah’s Ark Angel Foundation. And so, all the things that you have done, that story gives me the right to say it again. Noah Homes is unequivocally, the best place on earth for those with developmental disabilities.Peter Ferrantelli, Board Chairman of Noah's Ark Angel Foundation
This is truly a project that we are very thrilled and proud to be a part of. It’s going to be the first of its kind in Southern California, the first of its kind in California and the first of its kind across the nation. And we hope to bring everybody into the fold and join the journey with Noah Homes and make it the best ever.Alexis Parker, Executive Director of HomeAid San Diego
I am grateful to Molly Nocon and her team for their tireless efforts to ensure that adults with developmental disabilities live with the dignity, freedom, and respect they deserve. Recognizing that Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia are terrible afflictions impacting our community, Molly is also leading the effort to create California’s first memory homes for adults with developmental disabilities to ensure that they will have opportunities to remain independent. Molly is a blessing to our community and is a shining example of compassionate service to all.Joel Anderson, California State Senator