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.
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.