There is a residential home for young women aged between 16 and 27 near ClubIn, offering various forms of supervised accommodation to varying degrees. In two fully supervised socio-therapeutic shared flats, social pedagogues are present 24/7 as contact people. In the three partially supervised small shared flats, qualified specialists are on site from Monday to Friday during the day from 10 am to 6 pm. Additionally, there is an unsupervised residence for trainees and students in the same building.

One club visitor, who wishes to remain anonymous, lives in one of the partially supervised facilities. We will refer to her as Lisa. Today, she explains to us what assisted living actually means and gives us an insight into her experiences.

Hello dear Lisa! We appreciate your time in talking to us today. Would you like to start by briefly introducing yourself? 

Yes, absolutley. I’m 19 years old and a FOS student – I’ve been living in supervised living since 2019.

How did you end up in the shared flat?

Things weren’t going well at home, there were often arguments. I was already in contact with youth welfare services via individual counselling appointments. During a consultation in a psychiatric clinic, it was discussed that I should move into supervised living. That wasn’t easy for me at first. In the beginning, I felt like my mum wanted to kick me out. But in the end it brought us closer together because we both had to work through our own issues first. I’m still in contact with my mum. We meet up regularly and talk on the phone from time to time.

So, despite some initial difficulties, you have now settled in well? What makes a partially supervised shared flat special?

We have some fixed rules, for example, alcohol is forbidden. I have to attend a weekly group evening and have cleaning duties. Additionally, I have meetings with my counselor and the house psychologist twice a week. During these meetings, we discuss current problems and bureaucratic issues, such as my Bafög application. There are also help-plan meetings.

Wait, what are help-plan meetings?

These are meetings with my counselor and my contact person at the youth welfare office. They discuss the goals I want to achieve during my time in assisted living and anything that has changed since the last meeting. One goal could be to become more independent, such as planning my own weekly structure or looking for a part-time job. However, deciding to eat more regularly or engage in more sports are also important steps towards independence. A help plan meeting takes place approximately every 6 months.

Wow, such intensive support from specialists probably comes at a price. How is a supervised shared flat financed?

It is funded by the youth welfare office, but additional contributions come in, such as child benefits and a payment from parents based on their salary. Consequently, I don’t have to pay rent and receive extra funds from the youth welfare office every month: a maintenance allowance of around 300 euros, which covers expenses for food, hygiene products, mobile phone bills, and other essential living needs. Additionally, I receive pocket money of 120 euros.

The youth welfare office also covers some extra expenses, including my monthly MVG travel card.

Do you share with people around you that you live in a supervised shared flat?

I talk about it with good, close friends, those I’m confident won’t judge me. I’m not ashamed of it, but it’s often misunderstood. When talking to others, I simply mention that I live in a shared flat without going into details about the involvement of the youth welfare office or the therapeutic context.

With how many people do you currently live, and how do you manage living together?

We are initially a flat share of four, but currently, there are only three of us as our lovely flatmate recently moved out. We often go shopping, eat, watch TV, do homework, and occasionally go on trips together.

On one hand, it can be the best time of your life, but dealing with our own problems makes living together a challenge. You often notice when a flatmate is having a tough week, which can quickly become stressful for everyone. Then there are the everyday challenges of shared living: sometimes dishes aren’t put away, and it might bother someone. Occasionally, someone forgets to buy toilet paper. Sometimes there’s too much hair in the drain, and so on.

Living together is certainly not always easy. But what is your favorite memory of your time in the shared flat?

There are many… When we had Corona, my flatmate was supposed to have her Abiball, and I had a golf event from school. Since we were both saddened to miss these events, we decided to celebrate as best we could from home. We designed a school-leaving certificate for our flatmate and made a golf club out of a broom.

Apart from that, all the moments when we sang or danced together. Pretty much everything (smiles). There were so many great experiences in the flat share.

Overall, the flat share is a lovely home. We’ve become like a little family. I’ve become more independent and hardly have any social anxiety anymore.

It’s great that you feel comfortable in your shared flat and recognise that this form of living is good for you. Do you already know what you want to do after the flat share? Where would you like to live afterwards?

I would like to move into individually supervised living when I’m ready. The difference from partially supervised living is that you only have one meeting with the specialised staff per week in individually supervised living, not several. And you have more freedom.

Thank you very much for your openness and the insight into your everyday life. Is there anything else you would like to share before we say goodbye? 

I can’t complain, the youth welfare office helps a lot of people. If things don’t work out at home, don’t be afraid to seek help. I would recommend supervised living to anyone looking for a home where they can feel safe.

Thank you for the conversation, dear Lisa, and for these important closing words!

translated by Joeline O‘Reilly

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