Stop thisTrainwreck waiting to happen!

Please stop SSB 5459 – There is so much wrong with this bill that it will be hard to sum up in a concise and effective letter.  The critical issue is to stop this now and think about what the ramifications of such drastic changes will be if this bill is passed.

  1.  This bill is based on regurgitated false information from years past.  Senator Adam Kline continues to talk about “the 1970’s” with regards to our facilities today.  He is correct about the changes that needed to take place in 1970 but he’s far removed from the realities of the situation today and the recommendations from the experts of TODAY
  2. There are many in the community who are eligible and have requested admission to an RHC.  DDD has continually denied admission.  This is the only reason for a declining census in our RHCS.  There needs to be a survey sent out to all in the community who are eligible to inquire about their choice.  I believe you will find many who have chosen the RHC but their choice has been denied.  It is time that DDD actually supported and adhered to the Olmstead decision and respected people’s civil right to have a choice in where they want to live.  This is the very first thing that should be done before any or our RHCS are consolidated or closed.
  3. The reports that are generated by DDD are based on false information.  These need to be scrutinized.  I have researched the data and have found so many errors and flaws in the analysis of that data.  It is incredible that these reports are continued to be passed around as “fact” without anyone in the department questioning the concerns that I have raised.
  4. Rather than answering my letters regarding the fact that the “key points” are not supported by the data, DDD ignores the questions; Executives from The Arc accuse me of being “abusive” for questioning these reports.  As any person who has done research would know, it is expected to have people question your work.  When they question you, it is an opportunity to prove your point – not to call the questioner ABUSIVE.
  5. DDD reports that they have a Quality Assurance program which is up to date.  I will be sending  a synopsis of the issues I have had in researching the QA reports that should have been done, that DDD says they do, and the lack of knowledge about where they are, if they were even done and the multitude of players involved who do not communicate or know who has what report.  It’s a huge issue of “passing the buck” and nothing is getting done.  This NEEDS to be addressed before anything else can move on.  How can DDD say they have quality assurance when they don’t even have reports done, completed or available or even know who does them? DDD has not even complied with the requirements of The Roads to Community Living grant by completing the necessary surveys of the people who have participated.  The whole grant could be in danger without DDD following through with the requirements.
  6. People contacted regarding QA – still no data available – these people just keep sending emails around saying the next person has the data.  No one has it.  Players involved in this game:  (12 names which I won’t post here but sent to our House Ways and Means Committee members)  You would think that one of these people would be able to give a straight answer.  It’s time that DDD and the DDC are held accountable for their actions and lack thereof.
  7. DSHS is focusing their efforts on closing the RHCs.  The RHCS are about the only safe place for our citizens with DD.  The community homes which DDD so proudly talks about are a shambles – no safety or QA oversight, poorly trained staff with a high turnover, inadequate staffing levels and this is just the beginning.
  8. We hear about how wonderful the homes are in the community.  Just this past month I have been told by family members who have a grown brother and a 17 year old son in an Alpha Supported Living home and a SL Start home respectfully that they are not allowed to bring a visitor to the house.  What type of home is it in which as a sister or mother (or other family member) cannot even drop in to see their loved one or to bring a visitor to meet with them?  Why would they have these policies?  This is certainly not a home in which I would place my loved one. At the RHC, I can visit whenever I want, I don’t have to pre-arrange a visit, I can bring whoever I want to visit with my son.  There are no restrictions on my visitation with my own son.
  9. Rather than embarking on projects that are experimental and also on successful programs with people who are happy with those programs, it is time for DSHS and DDD to fix and bring up to standard the issues in the community.  This is where the energy and money needs to go.  These advocates talk about how they support those in the community yet their actions are contrary to that.  The problems with abuse, lack of oversight, lack of trained caregivers, and lack of services in the community will only be compounded by passing SSB 5459.

Please for the sake of not only our most vulnerable citizens who are safe and healthy in their current homes but also for all those in the community who will be hurt even more by the changes  that this bill support, DO NOT PASS SSB 5459.

Mama Bear is Showing Up!

Happy Mother’s Day –

Every one knows how ferocious a mama bear can be protecting her cubs and knows to get out of the way.  I’m feeling like that mama bear right now and getting madder and madder.  Someone is attempting to hurt my child – not just my child but the children of many of us and it’s time to step back or it won’t be pretty.

I’m tired of being nice and playing the game.  I’m tired of DDD case managers denying services to children and adults who are needing services and who are approved for those services yet DDD continues to deny them.  I’m tired of the  DDC acting as if they know what’s best for our most vulnerable citizens yet shunning and censoring information from the experts – parents and caregivers.  I’m tired of so-called “disability advocates” from The Arc chapters behaving as if they care about our most vulnerable citizens and I’m mostly tired of all people from those agencies deliberately causing harm to our citizens.

I can tell you that a DDD case manager wondered why I didn’t restrict fluids from my son so that he would not wet his bed.  This was not just a little wet, this was a monster wetting which necessitated laundering every bit of bedding every day due to being soaked.  This was not a case of simple bedwetting but a case of neurogenic bladder that only relaxed at night so that was the only time he could really empty his bladder – while he was asleep – the only time his body ever relaxed (that is if he did sleep.)

This is the same DDD Children’s manager who I overheard tell my son’s case worker “do not offer them anything.”  That was after a meeting I had with them while he was hospitalized his for the 5th time in Seattle Children’s Inpatient Psychiatric Unit, psychotic and manic.  We had looked at Fircrest for him, we and his healthcare team knew it would be the best place for him – particularly since we had been told that another hospitalization would not be approved.  Our son was 14 and the DDD Children’s manager said “DON’T OFFER THEM ANYTHING?”

What is wrong with this picture?  Whatever it is – it needs to change and I’m doing my best to make changes.  Just as Ed Holen and Sue Elliott from the DDC and The Arc say on their Olympia Insider videos on Youtube “Change is made by those who show up.”

I’m going to be showing up!

A Father Speaks

Who are the experts with regards to disability advocacy?  I believe the experts are the people who are involved with, love and care for our most vulnerable citizens.  These people are the families and caregivers.  The experts are not the ideologues that sit in offices thinking up ways in which they think our citizens should live.

Here is a letter from one of our experts – a father:

The Olmstead Decision

I realize that our legislators are very busy trying to sort out the facts and many are probably not sleeping very much right now.  I certainly would not want to be in any of their shoes – but they are also not in my shoes nor have many of them lived the life of being a parent of a child with developmental disabilities.  Until you have lived it, it is very, very hard to even imagine what life would be like.  It’s easy to take a glimpse here and there and make assumptions but that cannot be generalized to what the total responsibility of caring for a family member with very intense care needs involves.

Senator Adam Kline is one such person who does not comprehend the intensity of care needs or the issues involved in supporting a continuum of care for our citizens with developmental disabilities.  Senator Kline references studies published by DSHS as reliable sources for cost comparison.  If one were to look at the original source, one would see how flawed these DSHS reports are.  Of course, that takes time and energy and our legislators need to rely on agencies to provide this information.  What do we, as citizens, do when these agencies themselves are part of the problem?

Yes, Senator Kline is correct in saying that this is not all about cost but that we need to address the issue of quality of life and the least restrictive environment.  To me, that is actually the main issue and it is for this reason that I fight so hard to maintain our continuum of care for our most profoundly affected citizens with disabilities.  Yes, there are many of our citizens with developmental disabilities that do much better in residential neighborhood communities – in fact, that is probably the best alternative for most of our citizens.  But, for some, that alternative is as if placing them in isolation, unable to interact with the outside world, at the mercy of a mostly untrained and inexperienced care staff and with little oversight to make sure that our citizens are being treated humanely.  This is the violation of human rights – not what Senator Adam Kline is talking about.

No one is disputing the issue that Senator Kline writes about with regards to “individuals ought not to be institutionalized when their needs for habilitation can be met in a less restrictive alternative.”  What he is really missing though is that for many, our state operated residential centers (RHCs) are the least restrictive alternative.  So it sounds to me as if Senator Kline is encouraging people disobey the US Supreme Court in the Olmstead decision by supporting moving our residents out of their community which is the least restrictive for them into a more restrictive community.

The Olmstead Decision

The Court based its ruling in Olmstead on sections of the ADA and federal regulations that require states to administer their services, programs and activities “in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities.”

Under the Court’s ruling, certain principles have emerged:

  • unjustified institutionalization of people with disabilities is discrimination and violates the ADA;
  • states are required to provide community-based services for persons with disabilities otherwise entitled to institutional services when the state’s treatment professionals reasonably determine that community placement is appropriate; the person does not oppose such placement; and the placement can reasonably be accommodated, taking into account resources available to the state and the needs of others receiving state-supported disability services;
  • a person cannot be denied community services just to keep an institution at its full capacity; and,
  • there is no requirement under the ADA that community-based services be imposed on people with disabilities who do not desire it.
This is the part that Senator Kline needs to re-read.  He seems to be missing this information when citing the Olmstead Decision.
For more information and letters sent to our Washington State Legislators, they are in the links section.

My Son Cannot be Cured!

As a healthcare professional, parent, citizen and disability advocate, I still do not understand the position of DSHS, DDD and prominent “advocacy” groups such as The Arc Chapters, People First and others.  These groups seem to believe that if you keep spending money and services on people with disabilities, they will become normal, function as normal and be productive as normal.  For some people this may be true and for those people I am very supportive.

There is another side to the story though – there are many of our citizens with disabilities who will never be able to be on their own, have a job with a competitive wage, own a house, cook their own dinner, or drive a car.  And you know what – they probably don’t care and wouldn’t even consider those things as part of their life – and that’s OKAY!

My son is one of these citizens.  He’s not normal, will never be normal, has no desire to become normal (he doesn’t even know what that is anyhow) but this in no way diminishes his worth as a beloved human being.  He is absolutely perfect the way he is.

In addition to his incredible worth as a human being, my son is about the happiest person that you will ever meet – he finds joy in so many aspects of life and just thinking about what brings him joy, brings me and all who know him joy.

I believe that if someone wanted to spend the millions of dollars on him to try to train him for a “real job” or to try to make him feel like he’s part of the community; they are wasting everyone’s money and time.  Not only that, they would be irritating him since he is totally incapable of fitting into a “normal” type of life.  I’m tired of people telling me that “if only he had the right supports he could do normal things” – he’s perfectly content with what he can do and works at his pace learning new things that matter to him.  Why can’t society let him live his life rather than trying to make him fit a mold that is beyond his capacity to fit?

Also, as a health professional, parent, citizen and disability advocate, I would much rather see the public funds that are overspent on trying to get people to be normal, spent on more productive services – think of the good that could come to the whole society if these dollars were spent on education, health care, public services that benefit more people than just a few that will never be able to live up to the expectations of “normal?”

I do believe in disability advocacy but this movement has gone way too far in trying to overcompensate.  It’s time to swing back to sanity now and realize that there is a continuum of abilities and that we need to honor and cherish that.   We seem to accept everyone else for who they are, why can’t we accept those with profound disabilities for who they are too?


Quality of Life?

Many People ask about the Quality of Life of our citizens whose home is an RHC community.

The residents in the RHC community have a quality life – one that ensures their health and safety, social and recreational activities and community interaction.  These are qualities that would not be available to many of these residents in various other environments.

Above all, the human rights of our citizens are protected and celebrated on the RHC community.  This is something that can not be said about residences in many of the “community” residences that Susan Dreyfus, DSHS Secretary, and others want to exile our residents to.

Thank you!

Thank you, all, for your support and help in making this issue more visible.  Many are unaware of the harm that some advocates are proposing.  You would think that disability advocacy groups would be all over this problem  but in fact, they are a huge part of it.

We have much work to do this week in Olympia and will do our best to make ourselves present and heard.  We’re up against very strong groups who have dominated and bamboozled many over the years.  We are beginning to chip away at that and informing people of the reality of caring for our most vulnerable citizens in the most cost-effective, safe and humane way possible.