What is L’Arche? Quality Care

Sarah Ruszkwoski

Published 14 November 2016

The three homes of L’Arche Chicago are state-licensed CILA (Community Integrated Living Arrangements) homes. The L’Arche model of care is unique, because the care provided flows from relationship.  The core members (adults with intellectual disabilities) and assistants (direct support professionals) live together in the homes and grow in genuine friendship. Because of these relationships, the care provided is able to be personal, loving, and in support of each person’s unique gifts.  We believe that people, with and without disabilities, are able to live more meaningful lives through the supports of community.  This story reveals just that…

Elbert will tell you, “Thanks to L’Arche and The Man Upstairs, I learned how to read.” At age 61, having only completed the first grade in his rural Georgia hometown, Elbert (the founding core member of L’Arche Chicago) decided he wanted to learn how to read.  Joyfully, Elbert and his housemates came up with a plan to help him learn.  If this was a priority for Elbert, it was a priority for the assistants in his home.  With patient resolve, Elbert reviewed flashcards each morning with L’Arche assistants.  After only one year, Elbert was able to correctly identify each letter of the alphabet and read the words on the cards.  When Elbert proudly demonstrated his new skill at a restaurant, ordering a coffee by pointing to the word coffee on the menu, deep joy was felt by Elbert and the assistants in his  home.  The care that Elbert receives in Friendship House, where he will live for the rest of his life, is more than just the care needed to “get by”.  It is the care you give to and receive from people that you love.