Innovative “Smart” Apartments for MS Patients Allow Disabled to Lead Normal Lives

“I will save her that is lame and gather her that was driven away; and I will make them to be a praise and a name whose shame hath been in all the earth.” Zephaniah 3:19 (The Israel Bible™)

Israel has inaugurated its first-ever revolutionary “smart” apartments for the disabled. These facilities, located in Colel Chabad‘s Grabski Rehabilitation Center in the northern city of Migdal Haemek, are providing sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a paralyzing disorder, with independent and private living spaces.

The apartments are outfitted with remote controls in order for residents to accomplish as many tasks as possible independently, including opening and closing shutters, windows, and doors, working on computers, decorating their own apartments, preparing their own meals, doing their own laundry, and more. An enormous amount of planning, effort and sensitivity went into designing the facilities in order to maximize the dignity and independence of residents.

Residents at the Grabski clinic develop computer skills. (Courtesy Colel Chabad)

“This was a joint project of Israel’s Ministry of Welfare and Colel Chabad,” explained Rabbi Sholom Duchman, International Director of Colel Chabad, Israel’s longest running charity for over 229 years, to Breaking Israel News. “We believe that this revolutionary concept will not only serve as a model for helping disabled people in Israel but also as an unique standard for facilities abroad.”

Before moving into the units, tenants undergo life-skills training which take into account their occupational limitations. Residents may choose their daily schedules and take part in activities both in and out of the center.

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Though the apartments have been designed to be as “user friendly” as possible, supportive staff is on site at all times. Initially, many residents refused to move into the apartments, fearful of being left to their own devices. However, now residents feel part of a community and are thoroughly enjoying their increased freedoms.

Previous to the opening of the “smart” apartments, people suffering from MS or other severe paralysis would, upon turning 21, return to their parental homes, often helpless or unable to lead productive lives. With these independent living apartments as a stepping stone for improving possibilities for disabled people, it is hoped that more people will integrate into normal society, enroll in university or engage in a suitable vocation.

At the Grabski clinic, MS patients can learn to make music. (Courtesy Colel Chabad)

Visiting the facility, representatives from the Ministry of Welfare were astonished at the amount of effort that was invested in the building. “[Occupants] prepare their own meals, clean up on their own, and do their own laundry, with the staff playing only a supporting role,” explained Grabski Center Director Koby Wiesel. “The communal apartment program has triggered a fundamental change in our entire approach to treatment. Until now we were primarily focused on treating degenerative weakness. Now we’re working to reinforce the patient’s’ lifestyle capabilities, thereby enabling them to fulfill their own dreams.”

Though Colel Chabad works year round helping those in need through a large range of programs and initiatives, the Grabski Rehabilitation Center is one of the organization’s many shining stars. The center is leader in creative therapies, treatment and care for those suffering from MS and other debilitating muscular diseases. It also houses Israel’s first interactive technology music therapy room for inpatients and boast an impressive gardening and art program.

An MS patient enjoys the Grabski facility’s art program. (Courtesy Colel Chabad)

To donate to the Grabski Rehabilitation Center, please visit here.