Gary Stuart Levin

Gary Stuart Levin

Adult homes are basically a facility in which the residents range from the frail elderly to people with psychiatric disabilities. The homes are often run and owned by people who do not have a background in psychiatric treatment. In the end, it operates like any business, with the residents as their commodities.

The way I see it right now, the psychiatric services that are made available in adult homes are too conflicted. There is a conflict of interest when the provider is more concerned about the impact they will have on the operators of the home versus the benefits that they could make available to the consumer. For one thing, the psychiatric treatment providers rent space in the home to conduct business. As such, it creates a problem, being that they do not want to lose their position in the home. The home could decide at any time to not use this provider. Also, because of this situation they are quite often forced to see as many people in as short a time as possible. I myself have never seen the psychiatrist one-on-one in an office, and I have been living at an adult home for four years. The only time I do see him is whenever he shows up in the building, walking from his car to the home. Then I only speak with him for one or two minutes, three at the most. And the conversation usually goes, “How are you, are you having any problems? No? Great see you later!” How is this supposed to be considered a psychiatric session? How is he supposed to base treatment on so little information? There is no privacy and nothing of any consequence is really talked about.

The thing that bothers me the most about all of this is that the people that live in adult homes should be getting all of the services that they need, not those that the home is willing to accept. If people want to get into supportive housing, or find work, or get involved in the surrounding community they should have help doing those things. Also, while some services may technically be offered, the quality is so low as to make the services almost nonexistent. Recreational activities include sitting in a chair and watching television or using crayons to color in coloring books. We are people just like you, and just because we live in an adult home does not mean that we should be treated like children, who need to have everything done for them, including thinking for us.

I came to the adult home when I was at a low point in my life. Depression had gotten the better of me and I wound up hospitalized at St. John’s in Far Rockaway. When it was time to be discharged, I was given two options: long-term psychiatric treatment or an adult home. Of course, I chose the adult home.

The adult home is not the right place for me—it’s too restrictive. I am capable of living in a looser setting where I could do things for myself if I was given a chance. Under the current system, you don’t get a choice. It’s a one-size-fits-all thing. This is what we’ve got and this is where you’ll go.

There is a solution—create more supportive housing and make sure some of it is for adult home residents who want to move on. We want more control over our lives and we don’t want people making decisions for us.