The Albuquerque Opportunity Center (AOC) Respite Care Program is for men experiencing homelessness that do not have a safe place to ensure that they received follow-up care for their acute medical conditions. We have contracts with multiple Albuquerque area hospitals to provide this service to as many individuals as possible. Heading Home staff aims to make stays for guests as pleasant and comfortable as possible. We provide 24-hour shelter for these guests as well as transportation to and from medical appointments. We ensure guests have healthy meals throughout the day and that they are taking their medications. We also allow for Home Healthcare such as physical therapists, wound care nurses, occupational therapists, etc. to meet with guests on campus.

During their stay here at the AOC, the guests have access to case management. We begin working on documentation and income as soon as they arrive. They also have access to computers and a phone that they can use to make appointments or to follow up with the benefits they have applied to while in our care. The staff spends time teaching guests how to maintain their follow-up appointments, as well as how to navigate online services so that they can utilize these resources independently when they exit the program.

Before getting connected with the Respite Care Program Judson had been living on the streets for two years and had endured many broken ribs, a broken hip, a broken foot, and when he arrived on the AOC campus he had an infected leg wound that caused him to require a wheelchair. Upon his arrival at the AOC campus, respite care staff ensured he got proper care for his injuries and worked with him to create a plan for him to get into permanent supportive housing. Judson was ready to apply for housing but like many of our clients, he lacked proper documentation. Our Respite Care staff helped Judson navigate pandemic closures and eventually were able to get him an ID, and necessary proof of income documents. One month after entering the Respite Care program Judson was fully recovered and was able to move into his own studio apartment. We are very proud of him and grateful to have been a part of his journey home!

Judson’s story is just one example of the many guests our Respite Care Program has served since the start of the program in 2007. Our goal in the Respite Care program is to be certain that every guest leaves us better than when they arrived. We are lucky to be able to house some guests directly out of our program. If we are unable to meet that goal, many of our guests will transition to our AOC Emergency Shelter where they continue their plan toward housing.