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.

Fact or Fiction Part 2

cost center

“Average” Daily Rates in Washington State for residents with Developmental

Disabilities who live in 4 types of Supportive Residential Care

Regarding the cost of care, it is clear that the comprehensive cost of the care of those with the highest support needs who choose the RHC is the most cost effective care.  As revealed in the report “Assessment Findings for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Served in Residential Habilitation Centers and Community Settings” (2011) residents in RHCs had significantly higher support needs than community residents.  The RHC residents were also significantly more likely to meet both extensive behavior and extensive medical support needs than residents in community residential programs.  “Our current findings suggest very clear difference in medical support needs, with those in RHCs being more likely to have high medical support needs than those in community residential programs.” (Barbara A. Lucenko, PhD and Lijann He, PhD, 2011)

 

This report also examined the DDD Acuity Scales and found that the residents in the RHCs also  had significantly higher support needs in interpersonal support, protective supervision and Activities of Daily Living (personal care, dressing, bathing, eating) in addition to medical and behavioral support needs. 

 

 

Looking at the daily cost of care in each cost center, it is also clear that there is much cost shifting in some areas which make it appear that the cost of care is less expensive.  This is the information that is often not shared when comparing costs.  It is also critical to look at the support needs of the residents in each setting, realizing that those in the RHC have significantly higher support needs and inherently higher costs related to the higher support need.

 

One other area that is misrepresented is that the “community” ICF/IDs offer the very same services as the state run supported communities of the RHCs.  It is clear by auditing their costs that this is not the case.  Knowing the high support need of the average RHC resident, it is very clear that this average RHC resident could not be safely and cost-effectively cared for in the “Community” ICF/ID since the comprehensive services are only available in the RHC. 

Please see this link below for a description of the cost centers and more information on the data 

 Average Daily Cost of Care

Bibliography

Barbara A. Lucenko, PhD and Lijann He, PhD. (2011, February). Assessment Findings for Person with Developmental Disabilities Served in Residential Habilitation Centers and Community Settings. Retrieved from http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/ms/rda/research/5/36.pdf

In Washington State the term Residential Habilitation Center (RHC) is inclusive of the ICF/ID and the specialized Nursing Facility.  The costs in these reports are only for the ICF/ID part of the RHC.

 

Scattered, dispersed housing = Community?

A letter from the National Council on Disability (NCD) was published urging the US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to swiftly comply with the US Supreme Court Decision of Olmstead.  This is great – except the interpretation of Olmstead is incorrect and the NCD assumes that independent choice is the apparent optimal  goal for people with intellectual disabilities (ID).

I cannot disagree more with the Federally funded National Council on Disability, which states they represent and advocate for our loved ones. My response letter is available  here.  (May 21 letter to HUD)  Community is not a place but relationships.  NCD does not consider relationships and what those relationships mean to many in supportive communities.

We need to define choice and what that means to various people.  Those with severe intellectual disabilities with or without co-occurring psychiatric disorders are by the very definition of their condition, not able to make informed choices.  If independent choice is the apparent goal, would an independent choice of someone with severe ID and psychiatric disorder by wise and safe?  I would tend to think not.

When thinking about choice and housing it is critical to understand what type of choice is desirable – independent or supported.  One should not presume that independent choice is always the most desirable outcome.  “A well-supported choice leading to selection of a wise alternative may be preferable to a more independent but ill-informed choice that results in problems.” (R.J. Stancliffe, 2011)

With this distinction about the definition of choice and what may be safe for each individual, we then can examine Olmstead and the arguments of many regarding community housing for those with ID.

The other very concerning issue other than that of “choice” is what about the caregiver.  Does the NCD not understand that many of these people who they so want to make independent choices often need 24 hour live in and AWAKE care?  If all these people choose to have their own house, who will be there to care for them?  Does the NCD not realize that we are already in a crisis trying to find qualified caregivers for those who may live in supported communities or group homes – how will we be able to safely staff isolated and dispersed homes?

Scattered and dispersed housing does not a community make!

NCD – Deinstitutionalization Delusions

Dear National Council on Disability,

As a healthcare professional and advocate for our most vulnerable citizens, I ask that the National Council on Disability rethink your position regarding deinstitutionalization.

The council is advocating for negligent care by pushing forward with deinstitutionalization.  Not only is this removing choice from these citizens (as guaranteed under the 1999 US Supreme Court Decision Olmstead) but also acting in violation of the US DD Act.

Supportive communities offer comprehensive care for our citizens with the highest support needs and most complex care.  These communities (which unenlightened or inimical people call institutions – I assume because they are unfamiliar with these communities or people who have their homes in these communities)  are homes to many of our loved ones.  Living in a community, sharing services and supports, is a very cost effective method to care for those who have a high cost of care.

Moving these people to dispersed homes, isolating them from family, friends, caregivers and healthcare providers in the name of “deinstitutionalization” makes a mockery of advocacy.  It is the exact opposite of what an advocate should do.

These dispersed homes often have unstable, inadequate staffing ratios and staff who are not trained well.  There is little coordination of care leaving the vulnerable person at higher risk for crisis care.  When care is finally given, generally these people have more advanced problems which require longer hospitalizations than if they had been managed with coordinated care which was accessible.  Promoting this type of “care” is promoting negligence.

When a person is totally dependent on another person (and often a paid provider) to provide all care a

nd assist in all activities, what happens when there is no provider who shows up to work? When an unfamiliar, untrained provider “fills in”? When the provider does not speak your language? What happens if a person wants to go outside or on a walk but there is not enough staff to go on an outing and also stay home to care for a housemate?  People become isolated and imprisoned.What happens is people do not see them anymore.  When our vulnerable citizens are not seen they are forgotten, the risk of abuse greatly increases.  When there is no one watching, no oversight, no one even knows they are there, people’s lives are destroyed.  This is what happens.

Is the deinstitutionalization movement aimed destroying these people’s lives one by one, hoping no one will notice?  If people who lived in a supportive community were dispersed, we wouldn’t have to see them or deal with them.  Is that what this is about?  It appears that way to me.

Supportive communities provide safe environments which are sustainable, employ a wide variety of profess

ionals who are specially trained and must meet annual standards of care.  There is oversight which is monitored and there are clear standards which must be met.  Why would one deny a person the right to safe, appropriate care?

Assuming dispersed homes are a better environment for many of these people is a false assumption

.  Take a tour of not only supportive communities but also dispersed homes, learn about the caregiving staff, learn about access and availability of healthcare, dental care, therapies, recreational and work opportunities before making a decision about what you think would be best for someone you do not know.  Listen to the people who know, love and care for these citizens.  They are the experts .  The experts are saying that we need supportive communities to best care for some of our citizens who are the most vulnerable.  Denying them this choice is not only inhumane but against our laws.

I know what I’m talking about.  My 18 year old son has thrived since being able to move to a supportive community at age 15.  He had been cycling in and out of the hospital with many complications due to a dual diagnosis of developmental disability and mania/psychosis.  Since moving to his community he has not been hospitalized once.  He has the supports he needs to be stable and he loves his home.

My son was honored as a member of the Shorecrest High School Homecoming Court this past Fall. (S

horeline Public School )   Far from being isolated he is well known in his community being very active in ma

ny recreational programs.  Living in a supportive community has enabled him to contribute, belong and participate in our community at large.

Thank you very much,

Cheryl Felak, RN, BSN

HOMECOMING 1

Because We Care – Beyond Inclusion

Attachment below  is just a “sample” list of actual citations from Licensed Adult Family Homes for p

eople with Developmental Disabilities in Washington State.  This list is FAR from complete and it is shameful the abuses and negligence which our citizens are subjected to.  It is very disturbing to know that this is probably only the tip of the iceberg and that many of these are repeat, uncorrected offenses with little or no punishment.

WA State Licensed Adult Homes for People with DD Citations 2011 adn 2012 Samples

 

Inclusion Delusion

Delusional thinking is taking over – what happened to logical thought processes and human dignity?  The National Council on Disability is  led by people who clearly do not understand the issues concerned with safely providing quality care to our most vulnerable citizens.  The policies the proscribe are not realistic and nor sustainable and will cause much harm to many.

 

Please read the most recent updates on this at The DD Newsblog.  The author there has written about this information very clearly and I recommend it for understanding of the situation.  My comments to the National Council will be forthcoming.