November 26, 2011


Respite home set to open Dec. 9

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — Taking care of a person with autism, cerebral palsy or other disabilities is a challenging full-time responsibility, said Roger Sibley, executive director of the Franziska Racker Centers.
“It really places a lot of stress on families,” Sibley said.
A new respite home opening next month in Cortlandville will give caregivers a much-needed break, he said.
On Dec. 9, Starry Night — a five-bedroom respite home — opens its doors at 1163 Starr Road. The home will host children and adults with disabilities while their caregivers get some time off, Sibley said.
Guests enjoy activities and stay overnight or for the weekend at the home with trained counselors and nurses who are prepared to handle their medical needs.
“We’re seeing a high need and a huge interest in taking part in the program,” Sibley said.
Kim Lansdowne, the residential regional director for the Ithaca-based Racker Centers, said the home will mostly serve children with disabilities like autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. The center will also provide short-term stays for people with other high medical needs or limited motor skills.
She said many parents will benefit from the new home. She said parents often want to go on dates, spend time with their other children who may not require the medical attention, or handle other business matters.
“They need a well-deserved break,” Lansdowne said. “When the child has a disability, that is a big challenge in itself.”
The center will have trained staff to provide care and entertainment for the guests while their caregivers take a break. The home has five bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, dining room, two full baths and a backyard for outdoor activities.
There will be an open house at the Starr Road respite home from 2 to 6 p.m. Dec. 8, where families can take a tour.
The respite home has received 51 applications thus far and many more phone calls and referrals from people interested in the service, Lansdowne said.
The house will serve individuals in Cortland and surrounding Central New York locations.
Sibley said the home has been three or four years in the making. Building the respite home and hiring staff required about $450,000, with much of that coming from the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.
The home is custom-built with wide hallways for wheelchair access, guardrails in the bathrooms and other handicap-accessible features.
The 24-hour supervised program is staffed with trained counselors and nurses who will provide services and supervision for guests.
The home will be open for weekend stays through 2011. Sibley said the goal is to eventually keep the respite home open seven-days a week.
Founded in 1948, Franziska Racker Centers is a nonprofit organization that works to create opportunities for individuals with special needs and their families. In Cortland, the centers employ nearly 200 people from the area.
Sibley said the center will eventually be open seven days a week if there is enough demand for it.
“It’s a ‘If you build it, they will come’ situation,” Sibley said. “We’re going to respond to the demand.”


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