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A group home is a private residence for children or young people who cannot live with their families, or people with chronic disabilities. Typically there are no more than six residents and there is a trained caregiver there twenty-four hours a day.
Residents of group homes usually have either a chronic mental disorder or physical disability. Society prevents these people from living independently. They sometimes need continual assistance in order to complete daily tasks, such as taking medication or bathing. Some residents may also have behavioral problems that require supervision because they may be dangerous to themselves or others. Prior to the 1970s, this function was served by institutions, asylums, poorhouses, and orphanages.
People who live in such a group home may be developmentally disabled, recovering from alcohol or drug addiction, abused or neglected youths, youths with behavioral or emotional problems, and/or youths with criminal records. A group home differs from a halfway house in that it is not restricted to recovering addicts or convicted criminals, and residents are usually encouraged or required to take an active role in the maintenance of the household, such as performing chores or helping to manage a budget.
Residents may have their own room or share rooms, and share facilities such as laundry, bathroom, kitchen and common living areas. The opening of group homes in neighborhoods is occasionally opposed by residents, who fear that it will lead to a rise in crime and/or a drop in property values.
A group home can also refer to family homes in which children and youth of the foster care system are placed until foster families are found for them. Group homes for children provide an alternative to traditional foster care. Unrelated children live in a home-like setting with either a set of house parents or a rotating staff of trained caregivers. Specialized therapeutic or treatment group homes are available to meet the needs of children with emotional and behavioral difficulties.
Perhaps the largest group of group homes falls under the heading of residential care homes for seniors. Group homes for seniors are designed for seniors who cannot live on their own due to physical disabilities. Group homes for seniors might also be found under Residential Care Home, Residential Care Facility for the Elderly, or Assisted Living Facility.
In most countries, people can still vote and attend university while in a group home. Internet usage in group homes, however, may be severely limited. Trips to public libraries may vary depending on the distance from the group home to the library. While 93% of the Canadian population has easy access to a public library, it is uncertain about the percentage of Canadian group home residents that actually have unrestricted access to a public library in lieu of watching television.
Employment opportunities, where available, are encouraged for group home residents unless they have a criminal record, mental disability, mental illness or feel disinclined from seeking gainful employment.
Residential care homes, run by the government, need not be low cost and/or low quality as many might initially guess. More expensive residential care homes now exist to offer a family style, high quality, care option to the next class of senior care which is Assisted Living Facilities. These homes are based on increasing need for assistance and decreasing independence. There are various levels of residential care homes for seniors, "Independent Living", "Assisted Living With no Assistance" (the most common use of "assisted living" involves little or no assistance, living at home with minimal amounts of home care), "Assisted Living with Assistance", and "Assisted Living - Memory Care". Memory care is for those dealing with memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer's disease.