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Doors open at home for 'the forgotten ones'

Apple Blossom Village, a 20-unit residence for adults with complex care needs, is a 'dream come true'

At the age of 27, Scott MacNeill is finally getting his own “apartment.”

The Newmarket man is getting ready to move into one of the 20 units at Apple Blossom Village on Line 15 in Oro-Medonte.

“This place is a dream come true,” Karen McCoy, MacNeill’s mom, said Friday during the grand opening of the $5.5-million facility for adults with complex care needs.

Diagnosed as non-verbal autistic at two-and-a-half years old, MacNeill has been staying in homes operated by Howard and Sherri-Ann Bloom — who also run Apple Blossom Village, along with co-founder Robert Cooper — since he was 15. But none of them are quite like this place.

He has most recently been living in a facility with plenty of children.

“Children tend to make a lot of noise, and Scott has a low tolerance for children,” McCoy said.

He has his own room there, but the opportunity to socialize and experience independence isn’t as great as it will be at Apple Blossom Village. Here, he has his own unit and his room will include a fridge, microwave, television and other items one would expect to see in an apartment.

“The goal is to provide them with some independence in a world where you’re told what to do,” McCoy said. “Scott will now have some control over his world.”

Having a place that is more homey will be a relief for mom and son alike. It already is.

“I’ve started sleeping again,” McCoy said.

While she trusts those who care for her son, McCoy stays awake at night, nevertheless worrying about how MacNeill is doing in a setting that can exacerbate his anxiety.

“When you can’t control your child’s well-being, it is probably one of the most terrible feelings to have — when you can’t be there to protect him,” she said.

But Apple Blossom Village, she is confident, “was designed for him.”

“There was nowhere for Scott until this,” McCoy said, explaining if she were to care for him at her home, she would lose most of the funding that is put toward MacNeill’s one-on-one care.

There are group homes and facilities for children and seniors, but those in between, like MacNeill, “are the forgotten ones,” McCoy said, “and I think that’s finally changed.”

MacNeill was in good spirits during Friday’s grand opening, and so was his family. His mother and sisters are planning a house-warming, of sorts.

“We’re coming up here and decorating the heck out of it,” McCoy said with a big smile. “We’re going to go to town on it.”

The new, spacious facility isn’t the family’s only reason to celebrate. The level of care will also improve. There is currently enough funding for MacNeill to receive just one hour per day of one-on-one support. When he moves into Apple Blossom Village in early August, “all of those things can be constantly worked on, providing him the skills he needs,” McCoy said.

“My hope for Scott at this facility is that he will be as anxiety-free as possible, as independent as possible.”

Kathlene Corbett, MacNeill’s support worker, is confident the move will be a positive one for MacNeill.

“His independence is going to go through the roof. He’s going to flourish,” she said.

That’s the plan, said Howard Bloom.

“Apple Blossom Village is a passion project set to transform the lives of its residents,” he said. “We are committed to providing client-centred support to anyone with complex needs as access to such support is increasingly challenging within the province.”

Apple Blossom Village stated in a press release the facility “will integrate collaborative, community-based, individualized care to people diagnosed with a variety of conditions including autism spectrum disorders, cognitive and developmental issues, dual diagnosis and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.”

Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is an experienced multimedia journalist and editor who covers Orillia and other parts of Simcoe County.
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