Sno-Cones at 3:30!

Wow – summer finally started in the Seattle area today.

I was at my son’s supportive community and they decided to pull out the sno-cone maker machine – talk about bees swarming to honey! This treat was much appreciated by all and the campus was buzzing with activity.

This is what true community is about – being able to participate and have fun with your neighbors!

Even with the lure of sno-cones, the residents who garden with me were excited to pick the first of our snap peas – they are like candy to some of us.  The tomatoes and corn were planted, too.  The gardens will be in full swing very soon!

Our blueberry bushes are amazingly abundant with berries – can’t wait until it’s time to pick them.  Look at this photo that was taken last week after a rainfall.  The bush can barely hold itself up due to the weight of the berries!

Blueberries

 

Imprisonment for people, death to some – It’s coming down to that –

Our state is in a crisis – that’s not news to anyone.  Some of the crisis is self-made from some “advocates” who have pushed inaccurate information to our legislators.  The false information and reports based on inaccurate data were utilized in decision making – decisions that are now coming back to bite us.

There are some solutions but people will have to acknowlegde some mistakes that were made.  Here is just one solution – retention of Direct Support Staff –

We need to think of Quality of Life for our citizens with developmental disabilties.  Having staff turnover rates up up to 44% is not only disturbing but dangerous and expensive.  Do you know that if we changed and tweeked the system just a little, we could save over $28,000,000 and improve the quality of life not only for residents but also for caregivers?

Do you know that moving some residents to small community homes will be imprisonment for them?  Without staff to care for them or staff to take them to appointments and community outings, they will be imprisoned in their homes – is this the type of life that you would wish on anyone?

One can clearly see there is a huge problem: Not even taking into account the effect on residents and the loss of knowledge and skills in relating to residents when staff leave, the lack of continuity in care (all which add to stress and increased behavior issues in residents), all the other issues with staff turnover that are seen in the business world are seen here too.

On average it is concluded that it costs about the annual salary of the person to replace that person – so given that, how much money could be saved in retention of staff (increased wages would help and would clearly offset the cost of staff turnover) which would then improve the quality of life.

Group Home Direct Care Staff make roughly $10.00/hour (some more, some less range is $8.55 – 13.62 in 2010) so that calculates out to about $20,000 for each person – so for 2010 in group homes that comes to $2,100,000 dollars on just staff turnover!!!!

Supported Living is $28,900,000

Now those are some ridiculous numbers – One of the keys to this problem is to look at staffing and how to retain the staff – This is what will not only save money but  improve the quality of life for EVERYONE!!!

Now is the time to think about new systems  – think outside the box (sorry for the cliche)

 The data for this chart was obtained from the DDD Residential Programs Staffing Wage & Turnover Study, years 2008, 2009 and 2010

Type of Program 2008 2009 2010
Group Home 48.1 44.3 39.2
Supported Living 44.7 37.8 35.8
SOLA 18.9 14.9 14.4

Local News | What did and didn’t pass in Legislature this year | Seattle Times Newspaper

When I read this article and see no mention of SSB 5459 in this – I realize that the bill that was so critical in my mind was of little significance to the state as a whole.  I have a hard time coming to grips with this and then wonder, if this bill was of such little significance, why didn’t legislators listen to the sensible and responsible facts that were brought to their attention and vote NO on SSB 5459?  There must be another reason that overrode responsibility, basic human and civil rights, personal choice on residence as guaranteed under the Federal Olmstead decision and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services guidelines.

If anyone could enlighten me as to what deals were made which caused this bill to pass I would love to know.  Maybe if I understood what was exchanged in order for a responsible, humane and sensible person to vote yes on this bill,  I could understand why innocent people were made scapegoats for such an “insignificant” bill.

Local News | What did and didn’t pass in Legislature this year | Seattle Times Newspaper.

What’s the Better Deal?

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.

Special Olympics – Shoreline Stadium

What a great day yesterday – not only did the sun come out but there was a huge turnout of athletes for the Special Olympics Track meet at Shoreline Stadium.

It was great to run into people from all stages of life and events from the past years.  Our kids are growing up, joining different teams and branching out in various programs.  This was one place where you can actually experience the full continuum of needs and abilities of people with developmental disabilities.  It’s also so inspiring to see people of all ages participating in these events.

I came away from the meet very inspired – the joy expressed by the athletes is contagious.  We’re

looking forward to the next meet on May 14.

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?