Véro & Louis Homes in Varennes: A Place for Autistic Adults to Call Home
The Véro & Louis Foundation’s story began in 2015. After learning the cause of autism from their friend, Guylaine Guay, Véronique Cloutier and Louis Morissette were made aware of a troubling reality: autistic adults did not have a place to live and flourish that’s designed for their needs. Housing resources are rare (with placement wait times of up to 13 years!) and don’t offer people with autism the structure and stimulation they need to achieve their full potential.
“What struck us most was the distress parents felt not knowing what will happen to their child when they are no longer around to take care of them.” – Véronique Cloutier
Due to this scarcity of resources or any better alternative, parents often have to keep their adult child with autism at home, which can have serious impacts such as needing to give up work, financial stress or social isolation, to name a few. The Véro & Louis Foundation was established as a response to this major societal concern with the mission to create permanent homes adapted to the needs of autistic adults aged 21 and over. It aims to provide families with the greatest reassurance they could receive: that their child will have a safe and caring home—for life!
The Véro & Louis Home in Varennes, an innovative model
Working in partnership with university research teams, clinical experts, and healthcare and social services professionals, the Véro & Louis Foundation has developed a unique concept that goes beyond just housing: the Véro & Louis Home in Varennes. Every part of the home, including the layout, lighting, soundproofing and choice of materials, is designed to meet the specific needs of individuals with autism.
In collaboration with the CISSS de la Montérégie-Est, the Véro & Louis Home in Varennes developed and implemented an educational and socio-professional activity centre within its walls. The educational program’s objectives, planned and led by special care counsellors, are to accompany its participants in reaching their full potential and developing their independence, skills and interests while promoting their social participation at home and in the community.
After only one year, the Véro & Louis Home is making a big difference! The 16 “roommates” have a strong feeling of belonging in their new home and have started to form bonds with each other. Some residents have made remarkable progress, especially in their communication skills and independence. For their parents, it’s a massive relief to know that their child is living in a home that is perfectly tailored to them, where they can stay for the rest of their life.
“What makes our home so unique is that special care counsellors are always on-site providing a daily educational program that aims to develop the residents’ potential. This is something that didn’t exist before.” -Louis Morissette
Driven by the success of the initial experience, we are now looking towards the future with the goal of opening two new Véro & Louis homes. For us, the next step is obvious: recreating this innovative model across Quebec! How? By sharing our expertise and working with local partners who will get involved and mobilize the community to make the Véro & Louis Home project a success.
By 2025, our campaign will allow us to build two new homes in the Centre-du-Québec and Laurentian regions – Based on the concept of the Véro & Louis Home in Varennes, the future homes will house 16 to 20 residents. Infrastructure is planned for the educational and socio-professional activity centre, which will welcome autistic adults still living with their families, in addition to the residents. We will also create a sustainability fund. This reserve fund is to respond to any unforeseen events and ensure the long-term success of the Véro & Louis Homes. Ongoing contributions will be made to the fund from the Foundation’s annual revenues. Finally, the Véro & Louis Homes are a genuine social innovation project, based on research that validates and optimizes the model on an ongoing basis. Our current and future research projects help ensure the relevance of our homes, quality standards and services and improve the quality of life of autistic adults and their families.
“We have a plan, we have the expertise and we have government support. What we need now is the participation of local citizens who are committed to creating an inclusive society that looks out for the well-being of people who are different. The Véro & Louis Foundation offers the opportunity to contribute to this great change in society and to give hope to thousands of families in Quebec.” – The Véro & Louis Foundation
Head of Research and Development
Véro & Louis Foundation, Montréal, Québec
To learn more:
The views expressed in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the NLM Family Foundation.