Newest program at Friends for Life helps vulnerable nursing home residents.

Funded by a contract with HOTR MHMR, the Life Skills Program began in early 2018.  Life skills trainers provide one on one training for individuals with intellectual disabilities living in nursing facilities.  Each client is thoroughly assessed and an individual training plan is developed to fit both cognitive and physical abilities and personal interest.  The goals of the training may include increasing tolerance for working one on one, independence with personal hygiene, improvement of social skills and communication, improvement of cognitive skills or any combination of the above.

Trainers use fun activities as much as possible to encourage participation in the training.  Many clients are having so much fun from the daily visits and activities that they don’t even realize that they are also learning or re-learning necessary life skills. While the training definitively benefits each of the clients in the program, even the lowest functioning clients, the daily one on one intensive interaction makes such a difference to these persons who can be easily overlooked in a busy nursing home environment.

The ultimate goal of the program is for the persons receiving training to become independent enough to transition back into the community safely.  Since the program started, three of our clients have moved into community environments:  one moved back home with family, another moved into a group home, and the third moved in with a family through an Adult Foster Care program.  However, even for those clients with medical needs too severe to live in the community, the training promotes more engagement and independence within the nursing facility setting that will continue to be their home.

No special certification is needed to be a life skills trainer.  Trainers currently working in the program come from a variety of backgrounds but there is one constant.  All have an innate desire to help others in need and a huge heart for this vulnerable population.  Pictured at a program Christmas party are:  back row, Vallory Williams, Lisa Stewart, Debbie Monaco, Donna Baugh, and Jennifer Streetman.  Front row, Mary Male, Debbie McClure, Crystal Garcia, and Brenda Scurry.  Not pictured are Carol Roden, Josilyn Terrell, Brooke Bearden, Lacey Belt, and Kim Mollett.  The program is continuing to grow as we receive new clients and new trainers are being hired as needed.

Donna Baugh is director of this newest program for Friends for Life.  Doris Johnson is our support staff person and Crystal Garcia is Life Skills Specialist and supervises the trainers.

For more information about this program, contact Donna at or 254-772-7600 ext 128 or Crystal at or 254-772-7600 ext 159.

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