Is Washington State “decades” behind the times?

This has been an interesting week for TV Investigations into issues of care for our citizens with Intellectual Disabilities.

One deserves to be heard and is a real investigation into real and current issues of abuse and death of an innocent man who happened to live with an intellectual disability.  Well, the other report, is not really an investigation – at least not yet – but looking into what happened in the institutions over 40 years ago with video of the horrible conditions in bygone years.

Kudos to Tracy Vedder from KOMO News for her investigation into the death of Jessy  Hamilton and the total mistreatment of him while under the care of the court system.  Jessy’s death is a tragedy and could have been prevented if the judge, lawyer, Cetralia Police Department and the Developmental Disabilities Administration were capable of doing their jobs.

lhttp://www.komonews.com/news/investigations/AutismDeath.html

On another station, Susannah Frame of King 5 News has started her investigation series titled “The Last of the Institutions” with this video.

http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/investigations/2015/11/03/washington-state-developmentally-disabled-residential-habilitation-center/75065984/

Unfortunately, the information that Ms. Frame has shared is decades behind and not factual.  She has gathered her information from biased reports and has chosen to use video which does not depict our state’s therapeutic communities as they are today.  She has chosen to show one campus from a back gate separating the campus from a neighboring park – the only fence she could find on the campus.  When questioned about this blatant misrepresentation of what the campus looked like she wrote “it was the only public space they could find”.  Ms. Frame ought to know better – the campus itself is public property – no gates or fences – she could very well have chosen a setting to show what the campus actually looked like.

Washington STate DSHS did make a clarification of this shot on a comment on the King 5 Website:

DSHS Clarification of Fircrest Video by Susannah Frame

Ms. Frame states that there will be more coming in which she will delve into the various issues more thoroughly.  My hope is that she has facts – not just wishful thinking.

I will be following the “investigation” closely and adding comments here and on King 5 Facebook and website.  I will provide facts and resources.

The issue is not “community” vs “institution” but about how are state can provide quality care to those who need it bases on their support needs and their choice.

We are way ahead of other states but we do need to have better quality of care, better oversight in the community, better pay for caregivers and better training and support.  Continuing to keep the “community” vs “institution” issue as a focus will only detract from what we really need to look at and investigate.  This is irresponsible reporting.

Catch 22 – The Arc “issue”

I recently came across an article written by Irene Tanzman on LinkedIn entitled “Advocacy Organization Catch 22” published June 22, 2015.  I would encourage reading this and in addition taking a look at some of the other insightful articles that she has published.  I felt a breath of fresh air when I first read this yesterday.

There are many concerns regarding “The Arc Issue” as I will call it.  In addition to the facts that Ms. Tanzman has addressed it is important to realize that in order for a chapter to call itself “The Arc” that chapter needs to be aligned with the agenda and policies of the national organization.   Every local and state Arc sign an affiliation agreement with Arc US that the chapter will support the policies of Arc US.  if for some reason a chapter does not support a particular position they are to remain silent and not comment.   So, regardless of what is happening in your region or state, your local Arc can only speak on policies that are dictated from the national organization.

The national policy of The Arc US (taken many years ago in the late 70’s and early 80’s) is that “community” is best and ALL people can be served in the “community.”  There are many problems with this policy:

  1. It is outdated
  2. It is not in alignment with the 1999 US Supreme Court Decision Olmstead v. L.C.
  3. It is not person-centered
  4. It does not indicate why they think this is best, or how it will be achieved.

What are some of the solutions?

Happy ADA Anniversary – DDC Interview tomorrow!

ON this eve of my interview with the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council I am thinking of all the people who are not able to have their voices heard.  My hope is that the DDC does uphold the 1999 US Supreme Court Decision Olmstead v. L.C. and that they do honor person centered planning.

My hope is that they understand that “inclusion” is defined by the person and what is optimal for that person.  This has been a very difficult concept for many to understand.  Also, we need to take into consideration all the caregivers and support people and what “inclusion” means for them too.  We are all in this together and we need to work together for what is best for the whole.  Not everyone is going to get their way with everything but that does not mean that there are not success stories.

Updates after the interview –

Please support respite and crisis care

Clients & Families can’t wait another year for help. Most of us have been in the position of having to wait for services….let’s try to cut the wait time for others.

Now is the time to write the members of the House Committee on Early Learning & Human Services.  They are having an executive session on Thursday March 26, 2015.

It is very important that the YVS  (E2SSB 5243)bill be sent moved on. If it does not pass out of committee (Executive Session) it is delayed another year.

This bill will help reverse some of the damage and lost respite care from 2011 when the legislature decided to close Frances Haddon Morgan Center.

Bill information:  http://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2015&bill=5243

Please send comments of support for the bill E2SSB 5243 to the following House Committee Members:

PLEASE~If you have not as yet contacted Early Learning & Human Services Committee in the House regarding E2SSB 5243, please do so now.

You can call their office, or the Legislative Hotline at 800.562.6000 or email them.

Ruth Kagi, Chair                                                          ruth.kagi@leg.wa.gov                         District 32        (360) 786-7910

Brady Walkinshaw, Vice Chair                                    brady.walkinshaw@leg.wa.gov            District 43        (360) 786-7826

Maureen Walsh, Ranking Minority Member                maureen.walsh@leg.wa.gov               District 16        (360) 786-7836

Elizabeth Scott, Asst Ranking Minority Member         elizabeth.scott@leg.wa.gov                District 39        (360) 786-7816

Tom Dent,                                                                   tom.dent@leg.wa.gov                         District 13        (360) 786-7932

Brad Hawkins,                                                             brad.hawkins@leg.wa.gov                  District 12        (360) 786-7832

Christine Kilduff,                                                          christine.kilduff@leg.wa.gov               District 28        (360) 786-7958

Bob McCaslin,                                                             bob.mccaslin@leg.wa.gov                  District 4          (360) 786-7820

Lillian Ortiz-Self,                                                          lillian.ortiz-self@leg.wa.gov                 District 21        (360) 786-7972

David Sawyer,                                                             david.sawyer@leg.wa.gov                  District 29        (360) 786-7906

Tana Senn,                                                                 tana.senn@leg.wa.gov                       District 41        (360) 786-7894

Arc of Washington State – Question their data and resources

The Arc Washington State recently sent out an alert “Crisis Stabilization Needed in Local Communities.”  While this is indeed needed, the information provided by The Arc Washington is not only incorrect with facts but much is actually fiction.

As a respected advocacy agency which many legislators and community members look to for guidance publishing alerts such as this actually hurt the people The Arc is supposed to be supporting.  Where is the integrity and transparency in their reports?

The Arc states that “On average, only 1-3 beds a month are currently used for any respite.”  The Data obtained from the Department of Social and Health Services Executive Management Information System (EMIS)  dates June 2010 through June 2014 clearly show that the Arc is very incorrect.  Below is a graph of the data obtained from the EMIS.  The average has actually been 32 respite clients per month at Yakima Valley School.

Community Respite in RHCs

The Arc states “The cost for placement in Yakima Valley Nursing Facility is $587 A DAY, much more than a community setting.”  Again, data obtained from the EMIS and from the Office of Chief of Policy and Programs, DSHS Quality Programs and Stakeholders Office Chief, and the Crisis Services Program Manager,   the cost of community crisis respite is $1,166 dollars A DAY as opposed to the average $441 at Yakima Valley School of which only $216.00 is the cost to our state when the Federal Medical Assistance Program (FMAP) is taken into account. (EMIS 2012-2014)

Respite at YVSWhen provided with the actual data, one can see that we need to pass E2SSB 5243 rather than reject it.

This bill does not address anything having to do with respite that people receive in their homes and communities and will not take anything away from them.  It will only provide much needed services and help prevent crisis and family breakdown.

Yes, we all want respite in our communities but it is not happening for various reasons.  Respite can be used for a variety of community outings and opportunities but out-of-home respite is also needed.  I can tell you that if my son had been allowed to have any out-of-home respite at all while living at home on a waiver, it may have saved our family and may have prevented him from being moved into the RHC.  I believe that out-of-home respite is an essential component of the whole respite program and will add to the sustainability of community programs.

Resources:

Data received from the Department of Social and Health Services, Executive Management Information System  June 2010 – June 2014, with correspondence from Mark Eliason, DSHS Office Chief of Policy and Programs; Janet Adams, DSHS Quality Programs and Stakeholders Office Chief; Carol Kirk, DSHS RHC Program Manager; Monica Reeves, Monica Reeves, Crisis Services Program Manager.

DDA Policy regarding ICF/ID Admissions –http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/adsa/ddd/policies/policy3.04.pdf

Report to the Legislature – December 5, 2011  http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/adsa/ddd/Fiscal%20Status%20Report%20Consolidation%20of%20RHCs.pdf

The Arc wants to eliminate respite care

There is so much that does not make sense but one of the top things with advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is that The Arc of Washington is against a bill which will continue to provide much needed respite care for people in our communities.

This graph illustrates the number of community clients who receive care at our state’s Residential Habilitation Centers (RHCs).  SB 5243 aims to maintain Yakima Valley School for residents and respite clients.  The Arc of Washington opposes this bill.  Yakima Valley School serves an average of 32 community clients per month for respite  – without this resource our community members will have much less access to the already minimal respite care available.

Community Respite in RHCs

The Arc of Washington supported the closure of Frances Haddon Morgan Center (FHMC) in 2011.  Frances Haddon Morgan Center had a well respected and much used respite program.  Since the closure of FHMC in 2011, it is clear that the need for respite in other RHCs increased.

Please support SB 5243 and help reverse some of the damage done by the bill in 2011 which caused at least one death and led many other people into crisis.   Advocates should be looking at care, protection, choice and progress – not the opposite.  In my experience, The Arc of Washington is not acting as an advocate.

 

Data Retrieved from Developmental Disabilities Administration

Executive Management Information System

June 2010 – June 2014

 

The count for respite clients for each month is the unduplicated count of clients who accessed respite for the month. 

 2015 Developmental Disabilities Bills of Interest – published by The Arc of Washington State

Face the facts

Knowing that more budget cuts are coming down the line it is really time for our legislators and advocates to face the facts.  We’ve listened to the rhetoric long enough and many have come to believe what they have heard –  – but the truth has been misinterpreted too long.

When looking at costs for those with intense support needs we need to look at the costs for that population – not the average of the whole.  These costs are dramatically different.  We can all figure out very easily that when people share costs, the individual costs decrease – this is very simple to understand.  Yet, when we are talking about sharing costs for those with developmental disabilities, this simple fact is totally ignored.

I do not hear any advocates saying that someone is “too disabled” to live in the community and I also do not hear the cost of those with intense support needs who choose to live in a community setting.  So-called advocates do not want this talked about but a few of them have slipped out what their sons and daughters have cost our state to allow them the choice of community homes. Everyone should have the choice but also let’s be honest with what these choices cost – not only to the state but the individual themselves, their families and the local cities and communities.

1.  One young man was able to live in the community with the help of 19 hours of nursing care a day for 17 years.  His situation is talked about frequently to illustrate that those with high medical support needs can live in the community but the fact of his state funded 1:1 nursing care is never mentioned.

2.  One young woman lived in a group home for a couple of years until it closed.  She has lived in the intermediate care facility for about 5 years now and is getting ready to move out to a community home of her own.  Our state has spent over $150,000 sound-proofing and remodeling this home that she will live in by herself – and two staff people 24 hours a day.  She will have a male and a female staff person each of the 3 shifts 24 hours a day every day of the year.  Her staffing costs alone will be over $265,000 a year.  This does not include any other costs for her care in the community.

I understand these are two extreme examples but they are real examples of the level of care that those who live in the intermediate care facility could require if they chose to live in a community setting.  When we are talking about downsizing the ICFs we need to look realistically at the costs and they will be astronomical if we even consider safe and appropriate care as a human right.

These are the types of costs that we need to look at when hard choices are made regarding state funds for where those funds will be applied.  I will argue that denying those who choose the ICF/ID as their home not only denies that person but costs everyone in our state.  The costs are not only dollar amounts but costs of quality of life – quality of life for the person, their family and our communities.

It’s time to face the facts and get real about the situation.  Let’s stop the pretending – the pretending is certainly not beneficial to those we are trying to help.