TLC cares for the disabled

Day treatment center offers opportunities to learn

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br><br>
Clinton Gode (left) and Patrick West-Owens play a board game at TLC Wednesday evening.

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<br><br> Clinton Gode (left) and Patrick West-Owens play a board game at TLC Wednesday evening.

For nearly two decades, Michael Roach has dedicated himself to helping people help themselves.

Roach is the executive director for TLC Supported Living Services, an Arizona-based business that provides residential, day treatment and vocational services for physically and developmentally disabled people in cities throughout the state.

The company has been active in Kingman since late 2006, operating two group homes as well as a day treatment center, which opened in October of 2007. The group homes, which are all licensed by the Division of Developmental Disabilities, give TLC's residents a place to call their own while the day treatment center is more geared to their specific needs and interests.

"Treatment," however, may be somewhat of a misleading term - while medications and physical assistance are part of the center's daily routine, much of the focus is on helping residents take control of their lives, in hopes they can eventually live on their own.

"One of the reasons we came to Kingman was because we knew there was a need for these services," Roach said. "We specialize in working with all individuals with developmental disabilities, and we actively recruit the right employee for the right situation."

Each day at the center from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., TLC employees assist residents in learning basic domestic skills such as preparing meals, doing laundry and making beds. Residents are also taught skills for daily life: how to shop, how to budget expenses and how to maintain a healthy diet.

"We involve them - everyone is included," Roach said. "For the persons who cannot physically complete the tasks, we provide assistance with these skills."

Operating out of a converted residence at 3589 Essco St., the day center is indistinguishable from the rest of the neighborhood. Roach said this is intentional, providing residents a familiar, comfortable environment conducive to the skills they learn to use.

"One of the reasons we do this house setting is because our clients know the house setting," Roach said. "We try to blend into the community and offer a service that enhances persons' abilities in everyday life."

It's not all work, however. The day center is well stocked with board games and videos, and residents go on regular outings, sometimes visiting farms or museums, sometimes just going out to practice shopping. Roach stressed that, whether they go to the bowling alley or the Colorado River, everyone who wants to come does, regardless of physical ability.

"We're all inclusive," Roach said. "That's something I take great pride in."

TLC currently services only a handful of residents in Kingman, though their primary operation in Show Low serves more than 30 people, with additional operations servicing Casa Grande, Pinetop-Lakeside, Springerville and Tempe.

"Show Low has been around for many, many years and been very successful," Roach said. "We want to recreate what we've done in Show Low in Mohave County."

Though a private business, TLC is funded through DDD and the Arizona Long Term Care System. While services are free to TLCs consumers, they must first qualify, both physically and financially. Roach said TLC works with the families of each resident to ensure they get the services they need to work toward the life they want.

"We don't just work with the individual," he said. "We identify what the family and the individual want, and work from there."

But not every family may know what's available to them if they have a disabled loved one, and others may have an idea, but don't know how to navigate the public benefits system. For these people, Roach said, TLC is happy to answer any questions they have or to steer them in the right direction.

"We can certainly assist with that," he said. "We're always accepting the opportunity to provide new services to new people."

As TLC continues to build its operations in the county, Roach said he is also looking to implement some of the job coaching and vocational assistance programs that have already proven successful in Show Low and Casa Grande.

"That's something we're definitely concentrating on over the next six months," he said. "These folks, they want to live on their own."

For more information on services provided by TLC Supported Living, or to inquire about what benefits are available to you, call (928) 537-9744, or toll-free at (888) 637-9744.