We hear over and over that the Intermediate Care Facility for those with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/ID) is an entitlement – but what does this mean in real life?

One would think that if something is an entitlement that it would be there for you when you needed those services   Not so with the ICF/ID and in the state of Washington, the ICF/ID is not available to you if you are 21 or under.

Recently I had a conversation with an executive director of an adult family home which is licensed for adults with developmental disabilities.  In talking about the experience that our family  went through in order to have our son admitted to the ICF/ID for lifesaving care,  this person was horrified.

She had heard that the ICF/ID was an entitlement and was very confused by our story.  She had no idea of the struggles and crises that most families and individuals have survived in order to be lucky enough to utilize this “entitlement.”  She then stated that she needed to hear these stories because she had believed that the ICF/ID was an entitlement not realizing that it is really far from that in real life stories.

Listen to the stories of families who are the survivors.  Of the many, many families that I have had contact with and of the stories I have heard, not one has had the ICF/ID offered to them as an entitlement.

In fact, after a long meeting with my son’s case-manager and the Children’s manager for the Division of Developmental Disabilities to discuss discharge planning from one of his many prolonged hospitalizations, I overheard the DDD manager say “Don’t offer them anything!” as I left the meeting.

What they did offer was for us to call 911 for his next crisis since the Regional Service Network Administrator had indicated that he would not approve another admission for our son since “he was not improving with treatment.” Doesn’t that mean that he needs more help and maybe ought to be able to take advantage of his “entitlement?” DDD didn’t think so.

Obviously with respect to the ICF/ID, the definition of “entitlement” is different and does not mean a guarantee of access to benefits based on established rights. It seems to mean fight until you are almost dead, endure abuse, be jailed, or many other horrible scenarios before you may be “entitled” to access appropriate care in the ICF/ID.

People need to know the stories of our survivors.  Please share yours.