Helton House to open second location

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Town of Farmville will hold a public hearing Aug. 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the request of Helton House, Inc. for the purpose of a conditional use permit to allow them to operate a day support program for adults with intellectual disabilities in an area of a building located at 1713 W. Third St.

According to Helton House staff, examples of developmental disabilities are Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, autism and intellectual disabilities. These adults attend the day support program to learn these skills in a safe, supervised setting during the day, in a school like setting.

The company has been in operation since March 2002 and currently has a facility located in Rice.

According to Co-owner, Ed Helton, Helton House has both a center-based (Group Day Services) and non-center-based (Community Engagement) day program.

“Our day support programs provide skill-building support for the improvement of self-advocacy, self and environmental awareness, socialization, community integration, behavior modification, and daily living skills to name a few,” said Helton.

Once the permit is approved, the company is expecting to provide services to 35 to 40 individuals at the Farmville site and is hoping to open as soon as licensing is complete.

“We can’t give an exact date at this moment because it also depends on when our licensing specialist will be out,” added Helton. “We have made our licensing specialist aware of the opening of the program, and they will be out to license the facility after we receive the conditional use permit.”

Helton said that he understands that people may have some concerns when it comes to the opening of this type of facility but assures the public that many precautions are taken.

“We understand that many people have concerns when it comes to individuals with special needs and therefore, we ensure they are supervised closely, and there are program rules in place, for the safety of our individuals. We are here to protect the individuals we serve from being harmed to the best of our ability – psychologically, verbally, or physically,” said Helton. “Although some individuals with developmental disabilities could have aggressive tendencies or history, the individuals attending the Farmville location would not. Also, we can ensure that physical contact does not occur, but we cannot ask our individuals to avoid waving, smiling or saying hello to those on the premises as these are basic, appropriate social interaction exchanges that are expected.”

According to Helton, people with developmental disabilities are no more likely to display aggressive behavior than those in the general population. “With that being said, just as there are aggressive people in the general population, there are aggressive people with developmental disabilities,” he explained. “However, the individuals that would be attending the day support in Farmville would be screened for a history of aggressive tendencies before being accepted into the program.”

In addition, with not having a violent nature, these individuals are not sexual deviants.

Due to the individuals’ need for support in major life areas, they are closely supervised at all times by training personnel. Staff to consumer ratios are low (1:5), and the staff goes through a rigorous training process before being permitted to work with the individuals.

Training consists of Human Rights, CPR/First Aid, Crisis Prevention Interventions, Autism Awareness, Health and Safety, and Medication Administration.

According to town officials, the property under consideration does have a child learning center located on it in a separate building and the adjoining property is The Woodland which offers nursing care, assisted living, independent living and rehabilitation therapy.