Senior citizen in a mask speaking to a healthcare professional

Get to Know Beacon

When looking into specialized living, many questions about how the process works tend to arise. But because each organization runs so differently, it can be challenging to find answers. 

To remedy that, we sat down with our compliance director, Donna Cornwell, and asked her to explain her role and the process for when individuals come to live at a Beacon home.

Donna Cornwell, Director of Consumer Safety at Beacon

What Does the Compliance Team Do?

“My role as part of the compliance team is director of consumer safety and services,” she explained. “Within that role, we take a lot of time to look at individuals when they come into our program to ensure we’re able to provide the best care for them. We also want to make sure that they’re safe and secure.

“Beacon is specialized, which means we have people that come to us with a whole host of needs. And because of that, every individual who comes to live with us has their own plan of care services directed by their Community Mental Health Providers

“Beacon works with providers throughout the state of Michigan. Individuals seeking care come to us with different histories and backgrounds, medically and behaviorally. We also have to look at the level of supervision and care each person may need.”

Woman talking to a person in a wheelchair. Both are looking out towards a blurred-out fence.

How Do Individuals Come to Join Beacon?

“At Beacon, we have a really good opportunity to take a look at people prior to coming in through a referral process. These referrals go out to our assessment teams, where a consensus must be made as to where the best place for this person is within Beacon. We look at where we can provide the care and services they need and want, and how we can give that with the best supervision and safety for that resident.”

For more information on how to submit a referral packet or to speak with our Referrals Team, check out the link here.

What Should Caregivers Know About the Welcome Process?

“Once a proper home is chosen for that individual, a Welcome to Beacon letter goes out to the homes that outlines exactly what the needs of that individual are.” Our referrals team, along with an integrated care team, work together to provide services based around the Individual’s need. Beacon’s person-centered care philosophy is the backbone of providing the highest level of quality care to your loved one.


“These individual plans of services are written by their case managers through their Mental Health Services. The Mental Health Services come in and provide training in our homes for individual care and for our behavioral programs.”

Mental Health Matters written in tiles on a gray countertop.

“Beacon staff is trained on how to best know each person coming in. What makes them feel safe and secure, and what they will need assistance with. Is that medication management and knowing they will get their meds as they should and on time? Is it helping with activities and daily living, helping with cooking and cleaning, and taking better care of themselves? 

“We have residents that go out to school, to day programs, and even to competitive employment. Beacon provides all levels of support along the way. We take a really hard look at what it’s going to take to do that in the safest way possible.”

Treatment and Ongoing Care

“There is an initial Regional huddle meeting where the teams meet, and everything about the person coming in is discussed. Then there is what we call a watch list. Everyone goes on to that list when they first come to Beacon. We want to ensure we follow everything outlined in that behavior plan and that we are following it the best way to the best of our abilities for that given individual. 

“Aside from these things, there are also treatment team meetings. At any given time, a Zoom or team meeting can be set up to communicate with guardians and community mental health providers in the area. We want to ensure everyone’s in the loop about what we have going on.”

COVID-19 and Other Emergencies

“It’s my responsibility to be the pivot person should the need arise, such as with Covid-19, which was a huge challenge. We have criteria to meet through the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) and the CDC on top of  Beacon’s policy and procedures. We have to ensure that we’re following and doing those consistently. 

Stethoscope laying on a teal background

“If for any reason there is an incident or an occurrence where we feel we need to increase the level of care or supervision, we do that automatically. That’s done through a series of emails, calls, or Zoom team meetings. We want to ensure that the right things are happening and happening quickly so that everyone knows what’s going on and that the resident is safe. 

“Resident care and safety are foremost for any resident living in our Beacon homes. It doesn’t matter what the individual or behavior plan may say; care and safety are our highest priority when they come in. It is their home, and we try to make it as home-like as we can.”

What Opportunities Does Beacon Provide to the Individuals in Their Care?

“We do a lot of community inclusion events when it’s allowed–Covid-19 has kind of shut that down for now. But because of that, we’ve done a lot of activities in the homes that have been a lot of fun. There has been more sharing between the homes as well. 

“We’ve gotten really creative with different activities, but we’ve also found that it’s been fun for the staff to interact with our residents at a different level by doing some kind of fun activity they enjoy or attending something out in the community that is enjoyable for everybody. 

A group of red-painted hands come together to form a heart

“Community inclusion is its own issue sometimes because individuals are usually supervised when they’re out in the community. Some require more than one staff person to be there. Others can sign themselves out and be gone for a certain amount before signing back in. They can go into the community and see and do whatever they want.

“However, that freedom all depends on what that individual’s plan of service says and what their behavior plan says. That’s how we gauge the level of care and supervision needed to ensure everyone’s safety.”

Final Thoughts with Donna Cornwell

“It’s been a bit challenging given that Beacon has been tracking covid for two years now. It has put some limits on us, but we’ve gotten really creative in what we do and how we care for our residences, and it’s been a lot of fun.”


We are so grateful for all the work people like Donna do for individuals who need a home. She ensures everyone who comes in feels comfortable and loved and is allowed to learn the skills they need.

For more information about Beacon Specialized Living and the services we provide, please contact Alexander Furman, executive director of marketing, at

Kaitlyn Pfiester

Kaitlyn specializes in B2B and B2C content creation focused on mental health, therapy, and the further destigmatization of mental illness. She can be found living with her husband in Yuma, AZ with their two guinea pigs, Hyde and Kelso.


  • As a teen, Kaitlyn Pfiester began her writing journey in the fiction world, immersing herself in J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Once adulthood hit, the world of mental health opened her eyes to a hurting world. Over time, (and months of continuing therapy) her passion shifted from baking Lembas bread and speaking elvish, to learning more about trauma and how it affects everyday life. Now she can be found living with her husband in Yuma AZ with their two guinea pigs, Hyde and Kelso.