Centers of Excellence – change from the bottom up

We often hear about Centers of Excellence but what does this mean?

I think it should be fairly obvious but apparently it’s not.  For parents, family members, people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD), advocates, community members, healthcare providers, vocational and recreational support people, it generally means a community which interacts and supports those with IDD in all aspects of their life in a manner which provides the best quality of life for that person.  It is a collaborative effort from all angles.

This can be done but for some reason, even though we hear about needing centers of excellence, they are being broken down rather than built up by the very agencies which should be supporting them.

Here in Washington State the Developmental Disabilities Administration recently proposed a “feasibility study” at the cost of $601,000 to actually dismantle much needed Nursing Facility for those with IDD which also provides respite for many across the state, evicting the current residents from their home to create a “Center of Excellence” which has a totally different definition than one would expect. There are so many things wrong with this proposal which was most likely generated by a recent court decisions regarding people with mental health issues and the fact that federal reimbursement for care is better in the Developmental Disabilities Arena than in the Mental Health Arena.

This proposal needs to be stopped before it goes any further, wasting our valuable funds on things when those critical funds could be used for so much better, actually providing services and supports utilizing existing resources and building up what we have rather than tearing down, dismantling and rebuilding programs which would actually provide less than what we currently have.  This makes no sense.

Our state has a history of doing just that.  In 2012 Frances Haddon Morgan Center was closed, a Residential Habilitation Center  (RHC)which was home to over 50 residents and provided much needed respite care.  FHMC was also situated on the western side of the state providing an alternative which was closer to many people’s homes of origin.  This was a huge political mess with much misinformation provided and believed by those who made the decision but the decision was made which The Arc, the Developmental Disabilities Council and others celebrated as a victory.

At least one young man’s life was lost as a direct result of this closure and many others were displaced more than once from one home to another.  This alone is inexcusable.  The other issue is the misinformation regarding “cost savings” and the fact that many now are being denied services which could have been provided if FHMC was still operational.  FHMC is currently just a building, empty, sitting unused for many reason – it is a shame to walk through the campus and know what good use it could if only it would be allowed to be utilized.  Families and communities are hurting due to this decision.

What did happen was that there was no cost savings at all – in fact, just the opposite.  Rather than building several crisis care centers located strategically around the state, there has been one center for youth which has can serve up to 3 youth at a time.

The program which was built to “replace” FHMC has been open since December 2012.  To date they have served 12 children, only one of whom returned to their family home (which was one goal of this program). The current cost of this program is $1,165 per day.

This is the program for which FHMC was shut down for – how many people are now going without help, are suffering in crisis due to this huge error on the part of some so-called advocates?

We can’t let history repeat itself yet that is exactly what this “feasibility study” is doing.  It must be stopped before it goes any further.  Let’s look at what a “Center of Excellence” really is and build these up with the resources and available space we have – it’s all there already – it just needs to be utilized appropriately.

 

DDA CenterofExcellence

 

Pilot Program Promising

Comprehensive, coordinated and cost-effective care – this is not impossible!

Children’s Comprehensive Care Clinic is a pilot program in Texas which is showing promise.  In Washington, we could expand on this by utilizing the campus communities at the Residential Habilitation Centers to become “Comprehensive Care Clinics” for our citizens with developmental disabilities.  The report, Medical Care Task Force Jan 2002,  outlines a process to establish comprehensive, coordinated and cost-effective care.

When looking at cost of care for residents in the supportive communities or dispersed communities, some of the major costs that are not included in the dispersed community costs are medical, psychological, and therapeutic costs.  Removing these costs from the cost analysis does not mean they are free – it means they are not available or accessible or not provided.  Of the many, many studies that have been done this issue of not including medical costs is a problem.  What is interesting though is that the studies that have been conducted in the UK are more accurate – different funding and different agendas.  The UK studies have consistently found that dispersed community services are more expensive than institutional services.

Another interesting issue is “quality of care” and “quality of life”.  The Arc and other DD Advocates do not look at issues that are outside the personal outcome measures, such as choice and community involvement.  They are missing a huge part of “quality of care” issues by their narrow focus and do not realize that “quality of care” influences “quality of life”.

Quality of care (health and safety outcomes) can be measured objectively where as “quality of life” is more subjective.  We meed to include measurements of quality of care into our assessments and cost analysis.  Below are some examples of areas needing evaluation.

a..  access to comprehensive health care services (primary, psychiatric and dental care as well as ancillary services, including care coordination)
b.  rates and status of abuse/neglect reports and investigations (including victimization in the community)
c.  mortality review
d.  access and utilization of behavioral services and
e.  similar direct measures.

When people who require complex care from a variety of professional services receive all their care in a “medical home” model, such as the ICF/ID, dispersing these people  will make access to healthcare, therapies, nursing, recreation and more unavailable. It is well documented that people with ID have higher rates of chronic medical and psychiatric illness than the general population.   It is also well documented that people with ID have an increased incidence of medical illnesses and have need for comprehensive, coordinated medical services. (Kaye McGivney, 2008)  For the best care it is critical to maintain the same providers over time and to avoid disruption of services. (Kaye McGivney, 2008) No longer will services be accessible or able to be shared.    This means that either the cost of care will greatly increase or that the person will not receive care.

Research also shows that those with DD, when admitted to the hospital, stay longer than those without a developmental disability.  People with DD are also less likely to be discharged to their pre-hospitalization living arrangement due to the fact that the needed supports were not accessible.  This fact highlights the importance of having specialized residential centers (ICF/IDs) to help alleviate the cost of care, crisis care and hospitalizations.  Having such centers increases stability is cost effective and provides stability to the citizens.  (Haier Saied, 2003)

Developmental Disabilities are not only experienced by the person but by the family.  We need to look at not only individual quality of life but the families’ experience and quality of life too. (Colvin, 2006) It is critical to the health and safety of our most vulnerable citizens and  a responsibility of our communities and government to realize that we need supportive communities such as the ICF/ID to best care for some of our citizens in the most cost effective, stable, reliable and safe method.

To do otherwise, is negligent.

Works Cited

Colvin, A. D. (2006). Variables Influencing Family Members’ Decisions Regarding Continued Placement of Family Members with Mental Disabilties in One State Operated Institution.

Haider Saeed, H. O.-J. (2003). Length of Stay for Psychiatric Inpatient Services: A Comparison of Admissions of People with and without Developmental Disabilities. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 30(4), 406-417.

Kaye McGinty, R. W. (2008). Patient and Family Advocacy: Working with Individuals with Comorbid Mental Illness and Developmental Disabilities and their Families. Psychiatric Quarterly, 193-203.