Home for the Holidays: Transitions to Community Living

For about a decade, James Dunham and Patricia Kuhl of Charlotte lived in an assisted living facility, dreaming of having their own home and celebrating the holidays with a Christmas tree. That dream of living independently came true last December with help from the Cardinal Innovations Healthcare’s Transitions to Community Living (TCL) team.

Cardinal Innovations’ TCL staff helps people with mental illness find and choose housing in their communities and, to date, has helped 507 individuals find homes since the program began.

Cardinal Innovations Transition Support Specialist Nia Anderson made sure the couple had a tree with ornaments following the couples’ move in date on December 1, 2016. She remembers hearing Patricia whisper to James, “We have a tree.” Anderson placed a wrapped gift for each of them under the tree.
“They both were very excited,” she said. “James didn’t show much emotion during most of his journey, but he smiled that day.” TCL began in 2012 when the State of North Carolina entered into a settlement agreement with the United States Department of Justice to ensure that individuals with mental illness are able to live in their communities in the least restrictive settings of their choice.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services is implementing the agreement through the TCL Initiative. Cardinal Innovations Healthcare’s TCL unit is part of its Care Coordination Department.
One of the challenges facing TCL is finding affordable housing. Cardinal Innovations employs Community Engagement Housing Specialists who work in the organizations’ 20 counties, building understanding and partnerships with local landlords. These specialists cultivate relationships with the landlords and offer their support as well as training. Mental Health First Aid is one of the trainings that has been offered to landlords and their staff members.

Cardinal Innovations is proud to lead the state in helping more members find and move into their own homes.
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