Closing Institutions

Many of our supportive communities are being destroyed.  People are being evicted from their homes and dispersed to isolated housing in the name of “inclusion.”  The reason this is happening is because people and agencies are being misguided with inaccurate information, both with regards to costs and with respect to the 1999 US Supreme Court Decision Olmstead.

It is for this reason that I am providing this information in my attempts to clarify what the costs are and what choice means to those of us who care for our loved ones who have  limited abilities to make their own safe choices.

When looking at costs, direct care costs are the most logical cost to compare since this is a cost that is needed in all types of supportive residential settings.  This is the basic cost and the one that is most often reported for the cost of care in community residential settings.  The costs reported for supportive communities (Intermediate Care Facilitates/Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/ID), Nursing Facility/Intellectual Disability (NF/ID) and Residential Habilitation Centers (RHC) ) are generally very comprehensive costs and by the very definition will be more expensive than the direct care costs reported for community settings.  Below are the lists of services that are included in the comprehensive costs for the supportive communities.

Looking at only direct care costs across many residential settings and support needs – there are two very clear facts that can be seen:

1.  The cost of care increases as the support needs for the person increases – those needing more support have a higher cost for direct care.

2.  The Economies of Scale come into play – in supportive communities, even when the support needs are high, the cost of direct care is lower per person, on average, than in isolated homes.

In Washington State, this became especially evident with the closing of Frances Haddon Morgan Center, one of our state’s RHCs.  In addition to looking at the Economies of Scale in action with the downsizing and closure of one of our RHCS, we were also able to obtain the average daily cost of care for community residents with the highest support needs. The chart below illustrates that as the size of community decreases, the average cost per resident for care increases.

economies of scale

2010 direct care costs

2011 direct care costs

2012 direct care costs

The cost difference between 49 residents and 9 residents for Frances Haddon Morgan Center is astounding.  Moving these residents from their homes proved disastrous for several of these residents, death to one, hospitalizations and crisis to others – all for what was assumed to be a cost saving measure.  This experiment failed on many levels.  It’s time to actually look at the real data, understand what the data represents and move forward.

cost centers 1 cost cetners 2

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.

 

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

 

Therapy Garden at Fircrest

 

 

Today was a wonderful day in the neighborhood.  I have been volunteering frequently in the community gardens at my son’s supported community.  As I spend more and more time on campus I see more and more how strong and supportive the community is.

Today I had 5 residents from 3 different houses helping fill the watering cans from the rain barrels that have been collecting rain water, planting peas, parsley, carrots, and watering the strawberry plants that we planted last week in the new strawberry field.  In addition to this we all sampled several varieties of the tasty greens that we are growing – the favorite is the Ruby Streaks Mustard Greens and the Tatsoi – an Asian green that is crisp and mild.

We then cleaned spruced up some gardens which have a huge dill plant and then weeded around the raspberry plants which are rejuvenating.  Next on the list was to water the blueberry grove which also has lots of onions and garlic growing around the perimeter.  It’s great that some of the residents have really taken on ownership of these gardens and the watering!

While I was there today I know that residents from two households were going to go to movies – different movies at different theaters and some others were going to go out for dinner.  Many were out walking and enjoying the weather and it always amazes me that everyone knows everyone else and they watch out for each other.

I also witnessed a support team call  – in this community there is always the opportunity at any moment for a crisis to erupt given the high intensity and support needs of most of the residents here.  When a support team call goes out there is extra staff that respond from various houses to the house in need to add extra support to manage whatever crisis has or is occurring.   When there is this type of support in a community it alleviates the need to call 911 for police to respond because the staff are familiar with the residents and are trained to manage the types of behaviors which typically cause a crisis.

It is shameful that many people, included those who call themselves advocates for people with developmental disabilities, push to close these supportive communities.  One reason they do this is because they are clueless as to the benefits of a supportive community for those who need this level of care.  They call these communities “institutions” because they have not visited recently and have a pre-conceived ideas in their head that if these residents were dispersed, away from their friends and supports, they would be much better off!  They use incomplete information to say that the supportive communities are too expensive.

It’s such a shame that those who push to close these supportive communities refuse to visit and refuse to look at complete and accurate data regarding the cost, supports and services – comprehensive and cost effective and SAFE!

I do know that I enjoy spending time at my son’s community.  It truly is a “neighborhood” where everyone knows your name!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let Your Voice Be Heard

The National Council on Disability (NCD) is an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities.
NCD’s quarterly meetings are open to the public. People and organizations that represent the interests of people with disabilities are encouraged to attend these meetings, in person or by phone. The next NCD meeting is April 22 – 23, 2013 in Washington, D.C. The focus of this meeting will be NCD’s future “Policy Roadmap.” Families living in the D.C. area are encouraged to attend in person or you can join the meeting by phone (download the agenda, with location and phone details, here).

 

Next Phone & In-Person Public Comment Opportunities

April 22 – 23, 2013 during the NCD Quarterly Meeting

NCD will host two open public comment periods at its upcoming quarterly meeting on April 22-23, and we’d love for you to share your insights with us about emerging issues or other concerns on which you believe NCD should focus its attention.

For the two open public comment periods, statements will be received on any topic on a first-come, first-serve basis by phone and in-person. The first 30-minute open session is Monday April 22, from 4:45 P.M. until 5:15 P.M. ET and the second open session is Tuesday April 23, from 11:45 A.M. until 12:00, noon ET.

On Tuesday, April 23, NCD will hold an additional public comment period from 9:30 – 10:00 A.M. ET, reserved for in-person comments only regarding recommendations for NCD’s engagement on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

If you are interested in giving public comment, you will be asked to provide your name and organizational affiliation, if applicable, and to limit your comments to three minutes so we can hear from as many people as possible (for this reason, it’s advisable to write out what you intend to say).

NCD’s quarterly meeting is open to the public, and interested parties may join in-person or by phone in a listening-only capacity (with the exception of the public comment periods) using the following call-in number: 1-888-727-7630; passcode 5450168. If asked, the call host’s name is Stacey Brown or Jeff Rosen.

You may also provide public comment at any time by sending your comments in writing to Lawrence Carter-Long, Public Affairs Specialist, at LCarterLong@ncd.gov, using the subject line of “Public Comment.”

 

NCD April 2013 Meeting Agenda

 

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