Imprisonment or Freedom – which would you choose?

At Shoreline Parade 2010

According to The Arc – Washington State, 100 people in the RHCs (Residential Habilitation Centers) are going to lose their services (http://arcwa.org/takeaction/washingtonstate/olympia_insider/the_2011_legislative_session_the_final_chapter/) –

Given this statement, who are the 100 who will be evicted from their homes in the RHC and where are they going to go? This action is actually against Medicaid law given the HCBS waiver program – if these people are evicted, they would most likely need a Core Waiver, on the Core waiver (people at immediate risk of institution), people have the option of not using the waiver and being admitted to the institution – so – this issues seems pointless in the whole scheme of the disaster already at hand.

Also, what many are missing is that the data that was used for decision making on SSB 5459 was inaccurate (no cost savings in closing institutions – it actually costs more to move these residents out of their home community – just look at the new budget proposals that are asking for more money for transition and crisis than SSB 5459 requested – there was not cost savings in the decisions of SSB 5459 as stated but it costs more – The Arc and others were banking on the expected “savings” that will never come. Advocating for SSB 5459 actually ended up costing our state more money and disrupting more people’s lives. I’m really sorry about all this but given how communication was published, people were led by inaccurate reports.

For many whose home is in the RHC, they have much more freedom and choice than they would any where else. Think about if you needed someone with you at all times in order to go out of your house, how imprisoned you’d feel. That is what will happen if RHC residents are forced out of their communities – they will be imprisoned in small homes scattered and far away from others.

On the RHC campus, people can roam and walk freely – they are free to make their own choices – they are active in their community – a much different picture than you hear about by those who lived there many, many years ago and really should never have been there in the first place.

My personal assessment tool for acuity of ability to function are:

1. Can the person safely and independently cross a street?

2. Can the person independently tend to their own personal care in the bathroom?

3. Can the person enter a familiar store, get one known item, stand in line, pay for and receive the change independently?

I honestly don’t think there is one RHC resident who could answer “yes” to all 3 of these questions and maybe a handful who could answer “yes” to 2 of them. That gives you an idea of the functional skill level of the majority of the RHC residents.

So when thinking about evicting people from their homes, think about the imprisonment that you will be sending them too – being totally dependent on another person for any interaction taking place outside of their 4 walls – We tend to think of that as prison yet for some reason some advocates think this is “integration” and “inclusion” Far from it.

Please support a continuum of care which best serves ALL PEOPLE with DD – and best serves them and their abilities and is cost effective, sustainable, safe and has quality control.

I can’t tell you how many times I have written to administrators, executives, Parent Coalition coordinators within The Arc system.  Not one has responded to any questions.  The only response that I have gotten lately is being “unfriended” in Facebook over and over again, being banned from commenting or posting on many of The Arc Chapter’s Facebook pages, being banned from The Arc of King County’s blog and unable to comment or post.

This is shameful on their part – how can people move forward with new ideas and energy when anyone who questions one agenda item is shunned?  This is called a monopoly and due to this monopoly, many are being hurt rather than having their advocates heard.

Please, I would love to have a conversation with anyone from an Arc chapter in our state.  I’d love to share and work together on issues that will support ALL people with disabilities.  Why are you all prohibiting this coordination?

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