Urgent letter writing to our legislators to save our RHCs!

I am writing asking for your support at this very critical time to save our RHCs.  There has been much flawed data and reports shared by DSHS and some prominent “advocacy” agencies who are guided by not only ideology gone awry but also much misinformation.

As a stakeholder, parent and advocate for our citizens with disabilities, I have been privileged and obligated to review the quality assurance reports and data in addition to cost of care.  In this letter I will outline several of the major problems with quality assurance within DDD in response to following through with assessments, years behind in publishing needed reports and falsifying information within those reports to misguide the reader into a very inaccurate picture of what is actually occurring in our DDD system.

Quality Assurance for Residents who have moved from an RHC

The only assessment that has been published with regards to the health and safety of the “movers” (residents who have moved from one RHC to another or from an RHC to a community placement) is based on very flawed methodology according to the assessment.  I’m referring to the report “Assuring a Quality of System, Health, Safety and Habilitation” – January 2011, published by DSHS/DDD” and the “Comparison Study of Movers from 2007 to March 2009” in the following sections


a. 34% of the people who have moved are not even included on this – their answers were considered invalid due to the client not able to respond himself.  There is no other assessment to capture the health and safety of this large percentage

b. The section of the survey inquiring about behavior, medications, staff support, paid services was not answered by any family/guardian/advocate.  These questions were responded to by 90% staff at home, 2% case manager, 8% other – yet DSHS reports that “Family reports resident seems happier.”.

The following reports of satisfaction are false numbers based on the percentage of valid answers on the survey

  • 90% get the services they need
  • 98% are satisfied with the services and supports they are receiving
  • 89% said they would know what to do if they needed to change their services 100% said they are getting all the medications that a doctor/health care provider said they need
  • 95% said they know what to do if someone is hurting or abusing them

What is especially disturbing is that these statistics are reported as if the whole population of “movers” answered.  In reality, these responses are only from 66% of the residents who have moved – again, the most vulnerable (the 34% that have been ignored) are not even figured into this report.

Washington State last used the Consumer Outcomes survey in the years 2005-2006  – it is unclear if the norms for the “Movers” report come from this survey (that data does not match either Washington state or Total Combined states from this survey.) I have asked where the norms for the “Movers” survey came from and the only response is “The Consumer Survey” but since Washington does not have current data from this survey and the data does not match from the years that Washington participated, it is very questionable.

  1. My questions to Janet Adams,  Don Clintsman, Linda Rolfe regarding this specific issue have gone unanswered.
  2. In reading through the DSHS documents and reports, there are many links that they say have reports attached.  Most of these are broken – I reported this to Lisa Weber who is the National Core Indicators coordinator. Basically, the reports that are very far behind in being completed are not available online even though DSHS reports they are.
  3. DSHS also reports that Washington state participates in these annual surveys – this is false information.  Here is the correct information from Lisa Weber:

Due to resource limitations, WA State collects this information on a two year data collection cycle; most other states collect this data annually.

Roads to Community Living Grant

With the Roads to Community Living Grant, there are Federal mandated quality assurance survey completed by an independent entity before the person leaves the RHC, at one and two years after moving.  The Developmental Disabilities Council is the entity in charge of managing this assessment.  To date, no reports have been analyzed or published even though this grant has been in existence for over 2 years!

Expanded Community Services Proviso

I inquired about the quarterly reports for this proviso.  The law states that DSHS will report within 45 days following each fiscal quarter, which services were provided.  The last report available is for the 6th quarter (which ended December 2008) of the last budget.  No report was ever issued for the 7th and 8th quarters.

Brenda Davis, Administrative Assistant for DSHS/Government Relations stated answered my inquiry with this answer:

“Due to the budget and FTE reductions, the number of reports the department could produce during that time were suspended.”

What all this information (or lack of actually) tells me is that quality assurance, particularly that which is mandated by law to survey our most vulnerable citizens, is one of the first oversight issues that is dropped.

This is extremely concerning and frightening to me as a parent and advocate.  There are no accurate assessments or surveys that indicate our citizens are healthy and safe yet DSHS is wanting to push ahead with these inhumane moves, forcing our citizens into more of the unknown.

One would think given the expose that has been written on elder abuse in group homes and a recent article in The New York Times regarding abuse of people with developmental disabilities in group homes in that state, Washington would be quite a bit more cautious and humane with decisions that forge ahead into uncharted waters.  Waters that will surely hurt many – not only dollars will be lost but human lives will be lost.

I do hope that we can stop this movement – at least until the data is collected and accurate with regards to health and safety.  I do have accurate data that indicates the cost-effectiveness of our states RHCs and assessments with regards to the high needs and high acuities of our residents in the RHCs.  I will put the cost information in another email.

Youtube link to Thomas at the Shoreline Parade 2010


Thank you for your support,


Cheryl Felak, RN, BSN

Disability Advocate – Parent

Because We Care – Beyond Inclusion

Support a Continuum of Care

Seattle, WA


Important legislators to write to in addition to your own Senator and Representatives


edward.murray@leg.wa.gov Ed Murray- Chair Senate Ways and Means


Chopp.Frank@leg.wa.gov Frank Chopp- Speaker of the House


hunter.ross@leg.wa.gov Ross Hunter- Chair House Chair of Ways & Means


alexander.gary@leg.wa.gov Gary Alexander- Ranking minority member of House Ways & Means


zarelli.joe@leg.wa.gov Joe Zarelli -Ranking minority leader of Senate House Ways & Means.


brown.lisa@leg.wa.gov Lisa Brown-Senate Majority Leader


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