Welcome to RITI’s Recuperative Care Center!
Have you ever wondered what happens to someone experiencing homelessness who is released from the hospital and needs a safe place to fully recover? Welcome to the Recuperative Care Center (RCC) at Room in the Inn – Memphis!
Rev. Lisa Anderson explains,
“Many of us know that when we leave the hospital, it takes some time before we’re able to resume our normal lives. Often we recuperate at home, but that option may not be available for someone who is homeless. Until now, when a person experiencing homelessness was released from the hospital, where they went to recuperate was often left to chance.”
In 2021, RITI Memphis opened the Mid-South’s first Recuperative Care Center for people experiencing homelessness – offering recovery services for those who are released from hospitals across the Mid-South.
Referrals to the Recuperative Care Center are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and come from area hospitals, emergency rooms, and clinics for patients who no longer require medical care but are in need of time and space for recovery and resources for sustainable housing and healthcare.
The first guest moved into the RCC on April 26, 2021. Since that time, 45 guests have received shelter and recuperative care with 9 transitioning to permanent housing and 6 gaining employment during their stay.
RCC guests and staff alike shared the biggest challenge they face is in finding safe and accessible affordable housing. It is common for RCC guests to have various disabilities, requiring accommodations that are more accessible. Transportation is an added challenge, so the location of housing is also important and narrows the field. On top of these added obstacles, the demand for affordable housing for those with a limited income outweighs the supply, making the process slow and often discouraging.
Meet RCC Director, Laurie Garrison. When Laurie moved to Memphis last year, she did not expect to be in this role, but through a change meeting and suggestion to visit RITI, she found the various pieces of her history coming together when a coffee chat turned into a job interview. With a background in hotel and hospitality management and experience as an executive director in the senior living industry Laurie says,
“This still meshed with what I had done in the past. There’s hospitality, which is my first and foremost background and then senior living is still managing a community, so the two melded well together here. I grew up working with people experiencing homelessness with my mother. We took care of several families throughout the year. So, it all came full circle. My favorite part of the job is watching guests gain confidence as they recuperate and learn that they can do more than they think they can do and see them grow with other people as a community.”
Laurie explains some of the programs guests are offered during their stay,
“We have programs available while guests are here. Current and past offerings include group therapy, art class, physical therapy and 12 Step meetings and other supportive network services internally in our building and externally in the community. All of that is achieved through community partners, volunteers, and student interns. We work outwardly with HopeWorks, Alliance Healthcare, Christ Community Health Service for guests to find stable employment and ongoing medical care.”
We asked current RCC guests to share their experience. Here’s what they have to say:
One guest shared:
“Before I got to Room in the Inn, I didn’t know what to make of it. I thought it was probably more like how other shelters are – all in one room instead of the space we have. I was surprised by how friendly and nice the staff is. Some places the staff may look down on you and your situation. I’m pleasantly surprised how friendly the staff is here. While I’m here, I’m working to find employment doing what I can do – working from home. Hopefully I can find some sort of permanent shelter, and I’m working on going to school. The RCC has helped me reach my goals by connecting me with resources. Also it gives you a clearer mind – you can think and focus on whatever goals you need to do – you can focus on that. This is definitely the place to get your life right.”
Another guest says,
“I came here expecting it to be just kind of blah. I was expecting something like a hospital – to be confined to a room and not have the kind of interaction with other people that we have. I’ve never been anywhere like this before. I didn’t know how it was going to be. When you think “recuperative care” you think of something to do with a hospital – like it’s going to be strict and isolated. I’ve been surprised by the people, the community. I came here with a wall up – me against the world. And I feel like God said, ‘Open up your eyes. Here is something to help you, not to hurt you and not to set you back.’ I’m working on just getting motivated back onto my own feet. I got used to relying on someone to take care of me. I’m trying to get a job and get back to being self-sufficient. I know the skills I have and the jobs I’ve always had – I could definitely live on my own but I never did because I had a family, so I know I just have to get up and go and make it better. Being in the RCC helps because I don’t have to worry about everything all at once – paying rent, paying bills, piecing jobs together. I have a little time to think about each step – like writing this resume and getting a job that I can work for the next 20 years of my life and focus on skills and things like that instead of having to worry about making enough money just to pay for my hotel room tonight. If I could share one thing with others facing hard times it would be, don’t give up on yourself. You’re worth something. Don’t give up on yourself.”
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