Due to continued reliance on the reports from DDD and DSHS, I am now writing daily reports informing our senators of the flawed data and analysis in the information they are receiving. If anyone would like sources of the original documents and data, let me know – I have them.
As a healthcare professional, parent, citizen and disability advocate, I still do not understand the position of DSHS, DDD and prominent “advocacy” groups such as The Arc Chapters, People First and others. These groups seem to believe that if you keep spending money and services on people with disabilities, they will become normal, function as normal and be productive as normal. For some people this may be true and for those people I am very supportive.
There is another side to the story though – there are many of our citizens with disabilities who will never be able to be on their own, have a job with a competitive wage, own a house, cook their own dinner, or drive a car. And you know what – they probably don’t care and wouldn’t even consider those things as part of their life – and that’s OKAY!
My son is one of these citizens. He’s not normal, will never be normal, has no desire to become normal (he doesn’t even know what that is anyhow) but this in no way diminishes his worth as a beloved human being. He is absolutely perfect the way he is.
In addition to his incredible worth as a human being, my son is about the happiest person that you will ever meet – he finds joy in so many aspects of life and just thinking about what brings him joy, brings me and all who know him joy.
I believe that if someone wanted to spend the millions of dollars on him to try to train him for a “real job” or to try to make him feel like he’s part of the community; they are wasting everyone’s money and time. Not only that, they would be irritating him since he is totally incapable of fitting into a “normal” type of life. I’m tired of people telling me that “if only he had the right supports he could do normal things” – he’s perfectly content with what he can do and works at his pace learning new things that matter to him. Why can’t society let him live his life rather than trying to make him fit a mold that is beyond his capacity to fit?
Also, as a health professional, parent, citizen and disability advocate, I would much rather see the public funds that are overspent on trying to get people to be normal, spent on more productive services – think of the good that could come to the whole society if these dollars were spent on education, health care, public services that benefit more people than just a few that will never be able to live up to the expectations of “normal?”
I do believe in disability advocacy but this movement has gone way too far in trying to overcompensate. It’s time to swing back to sanity now and realize that there is a continuum of abilities and that we need to honor and cherish that. We seem to accept everyone else for who they are, why can’t we accept those with profound disabilities for who they are too?
Many People ask about the Quality of Life of our citizens whose home is an RHC community.
The residents in the RHC community have a quality life – one that ensures their health and safety, social and recreational activities and community interaction. These are qualities that would not be available to many of these residents in various other environments.
Above all, the human rights of our citizens are protected and celebrated on the RHC community. This is something that can not be said about residences in many of the “community” residences that Susan Dreyfus, DSHS Secretary, and others want to exile our residents to.
Under the Washington State Nurse Practice Act and Washington State Law, the residents who live in group homes and SOLAs will not be able to get their medications safely. The staffing model does not include a nurse’s aide. Also, there are only certain medications that can be legally delegated by a Registered Nurse.
In addition to Nurse Delegation, I am very concerned about oversight. How often does a Registered Nurse actually come in and lay eyes on the residents? This is a very critical component of quality of life, health and safety.
What is advocacy?
Maybe I’m being an idealist but what I see happening is not what I call advocacy. I see people being used and paraded in front of our legislators. These people, many who have a developmental disability are being given statements to read. I really wonder how many of these statements are actually self-directed.
I have been asked if RHCs are so great, why don’t we see people down in Olympia who say “We LOVE RHCs” – asked by a prominent advocate from The Arc of Island and Skagit Counties who regularly accompanies self-advocates in testimonies. Just the fact that she asks that question indicates to me that she is unaware of the significant complexities that many of the residents whose home is an RHC deal with.
I have thought of taking my son to Olympia too but I don’t want to use him as a puppet. It would be an eye opener for many though to experience him first hand and to have a frame of reference as to the vast continuum there is when talking about people with developmental disabilities.
I have written to Joy Caldwell, Executive Director of The Arc of Island and Skagit Counties, twice with the hope of having a discussion. She has not responded but she did post this on their Facebook page.
“So in the spirit of open dialogue, I would like to hear from anyone interested in posting their thoughts on the topic of Supported Employment, Community Access & Day programs in light of our WA House & Senate Budget proposals for people with Developmental Disabilities. What do you think…?”
Hi Joy, (April 15, 2011)
I wrote to you a few days ago asking for open discussion. I have not heard from you but did notice that on the Facebook page for The Arc of Island and Skagit County, you posted this ” So in the spirit of open dialogue, I would like to hear from anyone interested in posting their thoughts on the topic of Supported Employment, Community Access & Day programs in light of our WA House & Senate Budget proposals for people with Developmental Disabilities. What do you think…?”
I tried to comment but it appears that I’m blocked from commenting. How can one have an open discussion when people would want to engage in one are blocked and censored? This does not make sense.
Does she really want an open discussion? If so, why are people not allowed to comment?
Thank you, all, for your support and help in making this issue more visible. Many are unaware of the harm that some advocates are proposing. You would think that disability advocacy groups would be all over this problem but in fact, they are a huge part of it.
We have much work to do this week in Olympia and will do our best to make ourselves present and heard. We’re up against very strong groups who have dominated and bamboozled many over the years. We are beginning to chip away at that and informing people of the reality of caring for our most vulnerable citizens in the most cost-effective, safe and humane way possible.
Many of the assessments for our residents are based on acuity. Acuity means need. High acuity means that the person requires much assistance in order to accomplish the task. The areas that are measured in acuity are listed below with some examples for each measure.
Activities of Daily Living – dressing, eating, bathing, every day tasks that many of us take for granted.
Interpersonal Support – support needed to interact with community members, friends, family and other people in general
Medical – suctioning, dialysis, inhalation or oxygen therapy
Mobility – ambulating or moving about, positioning
Behavior – self-injury, injury to others, wandering, sexual aggression – Behavior acuity based on frequency, severity and assistance provided.
Protective Supervision – level of monitoring required during awake hours
Generally, the higher the acuity, the higher the cost of care. This care is necessary in order to keep our citizens safe and healthy – there are no substitutes for or shortcuts to adequate and appropriate personal care.