Hopefully soon, Washington State will have a Developmental Disabilities Ombudsman.
This past year legislation was passed (thank you Senator O’Ban, the legislative champion for SB 6564, providing protections for the most vulnerable people from abuse and neglect) which will provide funds to develop The Office of Developmental Disabilities Ombudsman.
There has been a great need for this type of oversight for all people with developmental disabilities but especially for those who live in an intermediate care facility (ICF). While the Long-Term Care Ombudsman can help in situations for those who live in a skilled nursing facility, group home, assisted living or other long-term care facility, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman is not available to assist the residents in the ICF.
These residents have been without an adjudicator if concerns regarding their care or other issue are not addressed appropriately. This is especially true for those residents in a state operated ICF. Without an independent authority to help mediate differences between the person and the state, these residents may not have had an objective investigation of their concerns.
Allegations of neglect and harm have been ignored or swept under the carpet by the state agency when conducting investigations of state facilities. The DD Ombudsman will help prevent some of this injustice to our most vulnerable citizens.
I contacted the Department of Commerce last week to inquire into the development of the Office of the DD Ombudsman given that the bill was passed last legislative session.
Below is the response that I received from a spokesperson for the Disability Workgroup:
“A stakeholder meeting was held September 29th and written comments were accepted through October 15th.
I am currently drafting the solicitation to be released later in November. Evaluations of the bid responses will be in January 2017 and an announcement of the winning proposal probably in February 2017.
That organization will need to create the office, hire staff, train volunteers, etc. I anticipate them starting their ombuds duties sometime in the summer of 2017.
I hope this helps. Thanks for asking.”