DSP Annette Ross: “House Mother” to Circle Drive Group Home Residents

DSP Annette Ross at Circle Drive Group Home prepares an evening meal for residents.

It’s dinner time on a spring evening at Circle Drive Group Home in Cabarrus County. The ranch-style home is filled with the fragrant aroma of pork chops roasting with onions and gravy. String beans are cooking on the stove. A tossed salad and fruit cup will round out the evening meal.

Residents can be heard talking about their day, as some returned from jobs and others waited patiently for dinner.

Monarch Developmental Specialist Residential Annette Ross is bustling about the group home’s kitchen preparing dinner for the six residents who live at the residence diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome. Her cheery, maternal demeanor brings a light-hearted spirit to the residence.

“I have been cooking all my life. I really enjoy this part of my job,” she noted, checking pots on the stove while she chats.

With food the focus in many of today’s environments, navigating life with Prader-Willi syndrome might seem like an overwhelming obstacle. The Monarch staff at Circle Drive Group Home concentrate on supervision and structure and it has proven to help people supported thrive. A certified dietitian visits regularly to assist residents in carefully planning meals. The dietitian considers their tastes and preferences and helps them understand the healthy eating that aligns with their Prader-Willi diagnosis.

Prader-Willi syndrome is defined as a genetic multisystem disorder and in infants that can mean diminished muscle tone and difficulty feeding. In adolescents and adults, the diagnosis can cause excessive, insatiable appetite. Without attention and supervision, individuals can overeat which in turn can result in obesity and diabetes. The National Organization for Rare Disorders states that Prader-Willi syndrome occurs in one out of every 15,000 births with males and females affected equally occurring across all races and ethnicities.

Monarch’s Circle Drive group home and Lafayette Home in Albemarle are the only two multi-bed residences in North Carolina dedicated to caring for people diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome. Ross understands the dietary restrictions of living with Prader-Willi and takes great care when crafting meals. She diligently consults a large, three-ring binder kept in the kitchen in which the dietitian outlines daily caloric intake for each resident.

Outside of meal time, Ross tries to take the focus off food by coordinating hands-on activities such as sewing, crafting, gardening and artwork like jewelry making to keep the residents, who range in age from 30- to 70-years-old, busy. The staff and residents decorate the home according to holidays.

“We are here to let them know they are special in another kind of way because they live for food,” Ross explained, adding that each resident has a “Me Day” when they get to do whatever they want.

Posted on: Tuesday August 31, 2021