Not Just the Next Empty Bed

Recently we moved our son from the intermediate care facility to a home in the community under a supported living arrangement.  It was a difficult decision to make given all the research that I have done regarding care and oversight.  Many people wrote to me telling me of the terrible decision I was making and with horror stories of things that had gone wrong in the community.  I was well aware of many of these issues and still am aware of the lack of choice and quality of care that is offered in many settings.  I am aware of the cost issues and the cost-shifting that occurs making it appear that care in the community setting for those with complex care needs is less than the cost of care in the ICF/ID.

But, there were some circumstances that necessitated this move – a move that we thought we would not be making for a long time – namely that the ICF/ID was not able to provide the prescribed medical and nursing care that my son needed and his health was in danger.  There had been charges of medical/nursing neglect, many medication errors, and other issues related to personal and healthcare concerns.  The ICF/ID healthcare providers refused to follow the prescribed treatments of my son’s medical specialists and I was forbidden to teach nursing or personal care staff how to administer special medications or how to apply his splints correctly.  My hands were tied  due to the inability of the facility to acknowledge problems – not one specific problem but many.  I needed to visit several times a week in order to do his nursing care while at the same time being told that my visits were doing him a disservice.

But, my son had one option in this that most other people do not have – the option of CHOICE.

While on the wait list for the Roads to Community Living grant I was able to try to maintain my son’s health until we were able to choose a home that would work for him.  We had specific criteria – number one being that he needed to remain in our local community, the one in which he grew up and in which the ICF/ID was also in.

Of course, the supported living agency had to choose my son first before he could choose them and that took over a year and probably 8 rejections from local agencies.  When Alpha Supported Living Agency said they could support him, it then took time to hire and train staff and planning for which house would work best for him given the mix of the residents.

One of the major reasons that my son had this choice was due to the fact that he had continued to live in our local community and we involved natural supports to help with his care and community integration. He did not have to take the “next empty bed” as his choice for this move (that was how he got into the ICF/ID to begin with)

We are so thankful for this opportunity and my son’s health has greatly improved since his move and he has blossomed in many other areas too.

It is my assumption that many problems that arise from community residential services is that “the next empty bed” is the only choice available.  This is not a system which supports person-centered choice or real community.

There needs to be changes and more alternatives for true choice – from congregate, campus based care to individual homes – as long as the person is appropriately supported one can have a very meaningful life. Many times this takes much collaboration and team effort and adequate funding to support – but it can be done.

Please check out The Autism Housing Network for and ideas on how to increase choice and alternatives for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Disability Rights Washington has filed a lawsuit against Washington State Department of Social and Health Services and the Washington State Health Care Authority to help speed up transition and provide supports in the community.  My son is a member of this class-action lawsuit although I was not aware of it until it was made public this week.

Letter from DRW to DSHS and HCA

DSHS and HCA response letter

“The Last of the Institutions” Part 8 – Shawn’s Story

I have been following this series by Susannah Frame, Investigator from King 5 News in Seattle.  “The Last of the Institutions – Shawn’s Story:  From life in an institution to a home of his own” aired this past week.

Shawn Fanning – institution to community

Below is one of the comments that I wrote on King 5 comments regarding this story.  I will be following it closely and also writing about my own son’s transition from the same campus community to a home in our community.  Our son’s campus community (the same one that Shawn lived in) is in our community of origin and the same community in which my son has lived his entire life.  His new home is also in “our community” not “The Community” and this is a critical difference that is not often spoken about.  This was a requirement for us in any discussion regarding any move from the campus community.

Shawn is a great young man – I had the pleasure or enjoying his exuberance while volunteering in an art group at Fircrest. My son also lives at Fircrest and will be moving soon to a supported living home next month.

I fully support the RHC communities and am very disheartened by the bad press and inaccurate information that is being said about them. These communities are fully needed – some people may only need a short respite or crisis stay while others may need to live here for a longer time period. Whatever the time period everyone has the choice to leave and live elsewhere at any time. No one is there against their wishes or desires. No one is forced to live there – in fact, in order to be “admitted” families have been through some of the most horrific times of crisis that anyone could imagine. These families are survivors and have managed to advocate for their loved ones to have this care.

Our family will be forever grateful for the care of our son. He has loved living at Fircrest and when we told him that we had a new home for him we were afraid that he may not want to leave. Unlike the stories told, my son has choices – he has an iPad and is able to use it to communicate all sorts of needs and desires – he plans outings and parties and tells people what he wants to buy at the store and where he wants to go. He plans his showers around his daily schedule when he wants, he chooses and plans what he is going to eat, he goes to bed at his bedtime, he gets up early to go to work at his community job and he has a great life. Actually, as his mom, sometimes I think he has too many choices!

What would have happened to Shawn and his family if these resources of Residential Habilitation Centers were not there? I know what would have happened to my son and me.
I would have died and he very well would have too. He had spent several prolonged stays at Seattle Children’s due to mania/psychosis that was out of control. We were told that after his 6th admission he would not be able to be admitted again (this was because it was mental health care – he has a dual diagnosis of a rare neurogenic developmental disability and mental illness). We looked at staffed residential homes – none would have accepted him. We asked to have respite care at Fircrest and then an admission – they were both denied. When we asked what we were supposed to do when he had the next crisis DDA told us that we would have to call the police – that would mean that they would take him to jail. He was 14 at that time. That is not an option and never should have been considered but that is the only option we were given.

There is a lot more to the story after that about what happened but suffice it to say that eventually through various appeals he was finally able to move to Fircrest. I shudder to think of what could have happened if these communities were not there for our families.

Please stop calling these communities “institutions” and bad mouthing the services and the families that use these services. We are advocates for our loved ones and others who may not be able to speak up for themselves.

Preserve and build Respite and Crisis Stabilization

Time is running out – we need a YES Vote on SB 5243

 

save respite part 4 Please read and understand why a YES vote is critical to our families who need support. This bill helps to maintain and build respite and crisis stabilization services – how can an advocate be against this bill?

According to the Action Alert sent out by The Arc – Washington State they oppose this effort to preserve respite and crisis stabilization.  This bill is only aimed at preserving and building – not shutting down and limiting the few choices that our families have for respite and crisis stabilization.

It is time to question the motives of The Arc – Washington State and ask why they want to tear apart services.  Tearing down will only hurt those we are trying to help.

Please call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and ask your Senator to vote YES on SB 5243 – it is for the sake of our families!

Read the bill here and decide for yourself what is in the best interest of our families and community members in need of services.

(1)(a) The Yakima Valley School shall continue to operate as a residential habilitation

The Yakima Valley School must operate crisis stabilization beds and respite service beds as the capacity of the school allows and as the needs of the community require, subject to the availability of amounts appropriated for this specific purpose.
(b) As of the effective date of this section, no new long-term admissions are permitted.
(2) The department, within available funds:
(a) Shall establish state-operated living alternatives, within funds specifically provided in the omnibus appropriations act, to provide community residential services to residential habilitation center residents transitioning to the community under chapter 30, Laws of 2011 1st sp. sess. who prefer a state-operated living alternative. The department shall offer residential habilitation center employees opportunities to work in state-operated living alternatives as they are established;
(b) May use existing supported living program capacity in the community for former residential habilitation center residents who prefer and choose a supported living program;
(c) Shall establish up to eight state-staffed crisis stabilization beds and up to eight state-staffed respite beds based upon funding provided in the omnibus appropriations act and the geographic areas with the greatest need for those services;
(d) Shall establish regional or mobile specialty services evenly distributed throughout the state, such as dental care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and specialized nursing care, which can be made available to former residents of residential habilitation centers and, within available funds, other individuals with developmental disabilities residing in the community; and
(e) Shall continue to provide respite services in residential habilitation centers and continue to develop respite care in the community.”

This is how 2SSB 5243 currently reads. Please read and understand why a YES vote is critical to our families who need support. This bill helps to maintain and build respite and crisis stabilization services – how can an advocate be against this bill?
(1)(a) The Yakima Valley School shall continue to operate as a residential habilitation

The Yakima Valley School must operate crisis stabilization beds and respite service beds as the capacity of the school allows and as the needs of the community require, subject to the availability of amounts appropriated for this specific purpose.
(b) As of the effective date of this section, no new long-term admissions are permitted.
(2) The department, within available funds:
(a) Shall establish state-operated living alternatives, within funds specifically provided in the omnibus appropriations act, to provide community residential services to residential habilitation center residents transitioning to the community under chapter 30, Laws of 2011 1st sp. sess. who prefer a state-operated living alternative. The department shall offer residential habilitation center employees opportunities to work in state-operated living alternatives as they are established;
(b) May use existing supported living program capacity in the community for former residential habilitation center residents who prefer and choose a supported living program;
(c) Shall establish up to eight state-staffed crisis stabilization beds and up to eight state-staffed respite beds based upon funding provided in the omnibus appropriations act and the geographic areas with the greatest need for those services;
(d) Shall establish regional or mobile specialty services evenly distributed throughout the state, such as dental care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and specialized nursing care, which can be made available to former residents of residential habilitation centers and, within available funds, other individuals with developmental disabilities residing in the community; and
(e) Shall continue to provide respite services in residential habilitation centers and continue to develop respite care in the community.”

This is how 2SSB 5243 currently reads. Please read and understand why a YES vote is critical to our families who need support. This bill helps to maintain and build respite and crisis stabilization services – how can an advocate be against this bill?
(1)(a) The Yakima Valley School shall continue to operate as a residential habilitation

The Yakima Valley School must operate crisis stabilization beds and respite service beds as the capacity of the school allows and as the needs of the community require, subject to the availability of amounts appropriated for this specific purpose.
(b) As of the effective date of this section, no new long-term admissions are permitted.
(2) The department, within available funds:
(a) Shall establish state-operated living alternatives, within funds specifically provided in the omnibus appropriations act, to provide community residential services to residential habilitation center residents transitioning to the community under chapter 30, Laws of 2011 1st sp. sess. who prefer a state-operated living alternative. The department shall offer residential habilitation center employees opportunities to work in state-operated living alternatives as they are established;
(b) May use existing supported living program capacity in the community for former residential habilitation center residents who prefer and choose a supported living program;
(c) Shall establish up to eight state-staffed crisis stabilization beds and up to eight state-staffed respite beds based upon funding provided in the omnibus appropriations act and the geographic areas with the greatest need for those services;
(d) Shall establish regional or mobile specialty services evenly distributed throughout the state, such as dental care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and specialized nursing care, which can be made available to former residents of residential habilitation centers and, within available funds, other individuals with developmental disabilities residing in the community; and
(e) Shall continue to provide respite services in residential habilitation centers and continue to develop respite care in the community.”

We need to provide choices – not restrictions

Please view the video which highlights the need for choices and options in our efforts to provide services and appropriate care and homes for those who live with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  This is one example of many that need to be options allowed and promoted.

 

 

The last of the Institutions – Part 5

Unfortunately, once again, Susannah Frame has mislead people in this “investigation” series on King 5 in Seattle.  There is much to clarify in this recent segment which aired December 8, 2015.

Myth 1

“Only a handful of states operate more institutions for people with developmental disabilities than Washington. And in Washington, more people live in these segregated settings than most of the rest of the country”

Fact of the matter:ICF ID Table 2013

The above table is only the STATE Operated ICF/ID’s

26 states have fewer State operated ICF/ID s for a total of 25 facilities which are home to 11, 294 people (Average per facility – 451 people)

24 state have more State operated ICF/IDs  for a total of  828 facilities which are home to 42,553 people (Average per facility – 51 people) –

Hardly what I would call a handful of state (or facilities for that matter!)

 ICF ID Chart by state 2013

Myth 2

“Since the 1970s when the deinstitutionalization trend started, 16 states have closed all of their institutions that once housed the developmentally disabled, including Oregon, Alaska, and Hawaii. And 21 states, including Idaho, have fewer than 100 residents total living in these types of public facilities”

Nursing Facility and over 16 residents 2013

CMS cost reported by states 2013

The above table is taken from the CMS-64 report.  Again, Susannah Frame is incorrect with her “facts”.  There are only 8 states that have not reported funds for a STATE OPERATED ICF/ID.

It is interesting to note of those states with no costs for a state operated ICF/ID,  6 of those reports costs for private ICF/IDs.  Some of these are quite pricey to the states that have them.

Interesting that only 12 states do not have a large State operated Facility and only 7 states have less than 100 people in these state operated ICF/IDs and Nursing Facilities.

More to come about the private facilities in each state and the funding for both the ICF/IDs and the Home and Community Based Waivers (HCBS).

I believe Ms. Frame and King 5 have some additional investigative work to do.  This is a very sloppy example of research which they are promoting.

Myth 3

According to Mr. Bagenstos, supposedly a “top Department of Justice attorney in the Civil Rights Division” Washington state “remains kind of stubbornly, an outlier”

Look at the tables above and see for yourself.  By the definition that I understand, Washington is CERTAINLY NOT an “outlier.” 

That’s all for today – more myths to be examined from this episode withing the next few days.

Data Retrieved from the following resources:

Medicaid Expenditures for Long-Term. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid-chip-program-information/by-topics/long-term-services-and-supports/downloads/ltss-expenditures-fy2013.pdf

(2013). Residential Services for Persons with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities: Status and Trends through Fiscal Year 2011 (2013). National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS), Human Services Research Institute (HSRI), Association of Professional Developmental Disabilities Administrators (APPDA). University of Minnesota.

United States Census Bureau – Population Estimates – National Totals 2014. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/popest/data/national/totals/2014/index.html

Univesity of Colorado Department of Psychiatry. (2015). The State of the States in Developmental Disabilities. Retrieved from http://www.stateofthestates.org/index.php/intellectualdevelopmental-disabilities/state-profiles

 

The Olmstead Decisions is Misinterpreted

 

 

It’s not Scientific Research – part 2

The Policy Report that Susanna Frame refers to as “scientific research” is not scientific research but a literature review looking at one aspect of life. The Policy Brief she shares is not a scientific research and the authors note that for those with severe intellectual disabilities with complex support needs there has been a huge gap in the research.

Promoting choice and person centered supports comes with an added responsibility to ensure that individuals and families are given the opportunity to have accurate information about the many complexities involved with their care.

While the deinstitutionalization movement started with great intentions – this movement has gotten out of hand without a grip on the reality of the situation.

Wolf Wolfensberger (1934-2011) was instrumental in the formulation of the concept of personal value and meaningful integration and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.

“Wolfensberger (2003) has indicated that the advent of the ideologies of radical individualism coupled with radical self-determination and the derivative constructs of ‘choice’, self-advocacy and empowerment has resulted in many people with ID being turned loose without any, or without sufficient, supports, guidance, tutelage or outright controls.  Wolfensberger singles out for particular criticism the kind of assertiveness training promoted by People First and other collective advocacy groups. “(Jackson, 2011)

There are several groups that are supported by public funds that partake in this radical advocacy movement.  They refuse to collaborate with others who are more holistic, take a strident tone and alienate those who may question their tactics or ideology.   The Arc, SAW (Self-Advocates Washington), SAIL (Self Advocates in Leadership), Parent to Parent, Washington State Parent Coalitions for Developmental Disabilities are several of these organizations which have become wedded to this radical agenda of black/white choices.

These groups are working with for-profit vendors to polarize advocates to “community” or “institutionalization” to the complete exclusion of true choice and alternatives.  The politicization of the research agenda which is dictated by external bodies is doing our citizens a great disservice.

This so-called “investigation” by Susannah Frame from King 5 plays right into this agenda.  It has been clear from the start of the biases and lack of research and facts.  The complexities of the issues have not been addressed nor has there been any information given as to why advocates may not agree with the “choice” that they are told is the “right” choice.   Many question the credibility and ethics of the authors of the reports and the so-called “scientific” research.

While it seems that community cost is less by the limited data that is provided, it is not really about cost – nor is it really about choice – it is about something else – it’s about an ideology that is going to lead to disaster if no one is allowed to question it.

Paradoxically, instead of being genuinely enabling, empowering and liberalizing, ideology is being deployed to support policies which benefit the for-profit vendors.  This is big business and many community vendors are making a large profit from the care of vulnerable people.

Scott Livengood, CEO of Alpha Supported Living, would be able to tell you that his company cannot accommodate many residents with the high support needs of Yusuf – the young man portrayed in the recent segment.

Alpha Supported Living does a great job of supporting Yusef and others but some of these agencies are not so well staffed or managed well.   Records indicate that Yusef’s daily personal care comes to about $370.00 a day – yes that is less expensive than the daily care rate at the RHC but what is missing from this information is the cost of all the other aspects of care – food, shelter, health care, transportation – just to highlight a few costs that can add up rather quickly.

Any Supported Living Provider will say that they cannot afford to care for people with this level of care with the low rate of reimbursement that they receive from our state.  The funding for this care comes from the Home and Community Based Service Waiver (HCBS) and each state has a different program for funding.

While it has been stated that Washington is decades behind – the facts show otherwise.  There are 12 states that do not have any large State-Operated ICFs but that does not mean that they do no not have private ICFs or nursing homes or utilize those services from an ICF in another state.  In order to move people from the ICF to a dispersed community setting, it would be critical to know what the resources are in the community and if there is funding available to provide the specialized services and to sustain them.

The chart below has data taken from The State of the States (the same resource that Susannah Frame used for her information).  One can see that every state has some residents in an ICF/ID or nursing home.  It is also important to note the HCBS per capita spending for those who live in dispersed community settings.  The states with fewer people in larger facilities spend much more per capita on the HCBS waivers.

Washington, with a HCBS cost of $87.00 is below the national average of $129.00.  Those states with no large state-operated facilities spend an average of $175.00 per capita on HCBS waivers.  This care also comes with a cost. It needs to be noted that the HCBS costs do not include cost of living expenses such as rent, food, medical care which are all included in the ICF/ID costs.

If this was all about cost we would not be having these discussions.

Data taken from “The State of the States in Developmental Disabilities” Fiscal Year 2013 and Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Home and Community Based Spending FY 2013

Graph sorted by percent of ID residents in /ID and Nursing Facilities

HCBS spending per capita and ID residents 2013

 

Graph sorted by State spending on HCBS waivers FY 2013

HCBS spending with ID Residents

 

King 5 “Last of the Institutions” Part 4

 

Resources used:

 

Ailey, Sarah H., et al. “Factors related to complications among adult patients with intellectual disabilities hospitalized at an academic medical center.” Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities 53, no. 2 (April 2015): 114-119.

Arnold, Samuel R. C., Vivienne C. Riches, and Roger J. Stancliffe. 2014. “I-CAN: The Classification and Prediction of Support Needs.” Journal Of Applied Research In Intellectual Disabilities 27, no. 2: 97.

Bershadsky, Julie, Sarah Taub, Joshua Engler, Charles R. Moseley, K. Charlie Lakin, Roger J. Stancliffe, Sheryl Larson, Renata Ticha, Caitlin Bailey, and Valerie Bradley. 2012. “Place of Residence and Preventive Health Care for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services Recipients in 20 States.” Public Health Reports 127, no. 5: 475-485

Bigby, Christine. “Known well by no-one: Trends in the informal social networks of middle-aged and older people with intellectual disability five years after moving to the community.” Journal Of Intellectual & Developmental Disability 33, no. 2 (June 2008): 148-157.

Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, 2015. Medicaid Expenditures for Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) in FY 2013: Home and Community-Based Services were a Majority of LTSS Spending June 30, 2015, s.l.: Centers for Medicaid and Medicare.

Cooper, Sally-Ann, et al. “Multiple physical and mental health comorbidity in adults with intellectual disabilities: population-based cross-sectional analysis.” BMC Family Practice 16, no. 1 (August 2015): 1.

Erickson S, LeRoy B. Health literacy and medication administration performance by caregivers of adults with developmental disabilities. Journal Of The American Pharmacists Association: Japha [serial online]. March 2015;55(2):169

Felce, David. “Costs, Quality And Staffing In Services For People With Severe Learning Disabilities.” Journal Of Mental Health 3.4 (1994): 495-506.

Friedman, Carli, Amie Lulinski, and Mary C. Rizzolo. “Mental/behavioral health services: Medicaid home and community-based services 1915(c) waiver allocation for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities 53, no. 4 (August 2015): 257-270.

Hamden, AnnNewton, RichardMcCauley-Elsom, KayCross, Wendy. “Is Deinstitutionalization Working In Our Community?.” International Journal Of Mental Health Nursing 20.4 (2011): 274-283.

Hamelin, Jeffery P., et al. “Meta-Analysis Of Deinstitutionalisation Adaptive Behaviour Outcomes: Research And Clinical Implications.” Journal Of Intellectual And Developmental Disability 36.1 (2011): 61-72.

Hewitt, Amy. “Presidential Address, 2014—Embracing complexity: Community inclusion, participation, and citizenship.” Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities 52, no. 6 (December 2014): 475-495.

Jackson, R. “Invited review: Challenges of residential and community care: ‘the times they are a‐changin’.” Journal Of Intellectual Disability Research 55, no. 9 (September 2011): 933-944.

Kelly, Susan, and Yani Su. “Psychotropic and anticonvulsant medication: Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who transitioned to the community from an institution.” Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities 53, no. 4 (August 2015): 289-300.

Lakin K, Prouty R, Polister B, Coucouvanis K. Data Briefs: Change in Residential Placements for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the USA in the Last Two Decades. Journal Of Intellectual And Developmental Disability [serial online]. June 1, 2003;28(2):205-10.

Larson S, Lakin C, Hill S. Behavioral Outcomes of Moving From Institutional to Community Living for People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: U.S. Studies From 1977 to 2010. Research & Practice For Persons With Severe Disabilities [serial online]. Winter2012 2012;37(4):235-246.

Luckasson, Ruth, and Robert L. Schalock. “Standards to guide the use of clinical judgment in the field of intellectual disability.” Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities 53, no. 3 (June 2015): 240-251.PsycINFO, EBSCOhost (accessed November 28, 2015).

Mansell, Jim, and Julie Beadle-Brown. “Deinstitutionalisation and community living: Position statement of the Comparative Policy and Practice Special Interest Research Group of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities.” Journal Of Intellectual Disability Research 54, no. 2 (February 2010): 104-112

Martinez-Leal, R., et al. “The Impact Of Living Arrangements And Deinstitutionalisation In The Health Status Of Persons With Intellectual Disability In Europe.” Journal Of Intellectual Disability Research 55.9 (2011): 858-872

Nøttestad, Jim Aa., and O. M. Linaker. “Psychotropic Drug Use Among People With Intellectual Disability Before And After Deinstitutionalization.” Journal Of Intellectual Disability Research 47.6 (2003): 464-471.  2015.

Snell, Martha E., et al. “Characteristics and needs of people with intellectual disability who have higher IQs.” Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities 47, no. 3 (June 2009): 220-233.

Stancliffe, Roger J, Eric Emerson, and K Charlie Lakin. “Community living and people with intellectual disability: Introduction to Part I.” Journal Of Intellectual & Developmental Disability 25, no. 4 (December 2000): 1-4.

Stancliffe, Roger J, and Sian Keane. “Outcomes And Costs Of Community Living: A Matched Comparison Of Group Homes And Semi-Independent Living.” Journal Of Intellectual & Developmental Disability25.4 (2000): 281-305.

Swenson S, Lakin C. A wicked problem: Can governments be fair to families living with disabilities?. Family Relations: An Interdisciplinary Journal Of Applied Family Studies [serial online]. February 2014;63(1):185-191

Ticha R, Hewitt A, Nord D, Larson S. System and Individual Outcomes and Their Predictors in Services and Support for People With IDD. Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities [serial on the Internet]. (2013), [cited November 27, 2015]; 51(5): 298-315.

Is Washington State “decades” behind the times?

This has been an interesting week for TV Investigations into issues of care for our citizens with Intellectual Disabilities.

One deserves to be heard and is a real investigation into real and current issues of abuse and death of an innocent man who happened to live with an intellectual disability.  Well, the other report, is not really an investigation – at least not yet – but looking into what happened in the institutions over 40 years ago with video of the horrible conditions in bygone years.

Kudos to Tracy Vedder from KOMO News for her investigation into the death of Jessy  Hamilton and the total mistreatment of him while under the care of the court system.  Jessy’s death is a tragedy and could have been prevented if the judge, lawyer, Cetralia Police Department and the Developmental Disabilities Administration were capable of doing their jobs.

lhttp://www.komonews.com/news/investigations/AutismDeath.html

On another station, Susannah Frame of King 5 News has started her investigation series titled “The Last of the Institutions” with this video.

http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/investigations/2015/11/03/washington-state-developmentally-disabled-residential-habilitation-center/75065984/

Unfortunately, the information that Ms. Frame has shared is decades behind and not factual.  She has gathered her information from biased reports and has chosen to use video which does not depict our state’s therapeutic communities as they are today.  She has chosen to show one campus from a back gate separating the campus from a neighboring park – the only fence she could find on the campus.  When questioned about this blatant misrepresentation of what the campus looked like she wrote “it was the only public space they could find”.  Ms. Frame ought to know better – the campus itself is public property – no gates or fences – she could very well have chosen a setting to show what the campus actually looked like.

Washington STate DSHS did make a clarification of this shot on a comment on the King 5 Website:

DSHS Clarification of Fircrest Video by Susannah Frame

Ms. Frame states that there will be more coming in which she will delve into the various issues more thoroughly.  My hope is that she has facts – not just wishful thinking.

I will be following the “investigation” closely and adding comments here and on King 5 Facebook and website.  I will provide facts and resources.

The issue is not “community” vs “institution” but about how are state can provide quality care to those who need it bases on their support needs and their choice.

We are way ahead of other states but we do need to have better quality of care, better oversight in the community, better pay for caregivers and better training and support.  Continuing to keep the “community” vs “institution” issue as a focus will only detract from what we really need to look at and investigate.  This is irresponsible reporting.

Malika is lost!

Malika

 

Today when I picked up my son at his house to take him to the doctor, he was very excited to tell me about things he had learned.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t understand what it means or how scary the situation is – to him it’s exciting news because someone he knows was on TV.

Malika lived in my son’s supportive community – “Malika moved”  “Malika on TV”  “Malika lost”  was the news that he told me.

Malika has now been found:

A 17-year-old mentally disabled girl who ran away from a Bonney Lake-area group home Sunday was found safe this morning, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.

Auburn police found Maliika Andrus at a Starbucks coffee shop after a witness reported seeing her. She was taken to a local hospital for evaluation and will be returned to the group home later today.

Staff last saw the teen early Sunday morning at the facility in the 18400 block of South Tapps Drive East. Deputies believe she tampered with the alarm on the window of her room so she could escape

Washington State passed a harmful law in 2011 which prohibits “youth” 21 and under from admission to the supportive community of our state’s Residential Habilitation Centers (RHCs).  They may be allowed short term admission in crisis situations if no other alternatives are available.  The only alternative is the new 3-bed crisis stabilization unit – that is hardly sufficient to safely care for our youth.   Malika was most likely admitted on a short term stay and that had expired.  Our state had to evict her from the safe community to a group home.  Alarms are not nearly as safe as alert human eyes and presence.
This law puts all our youth with disabilities and their families at risk.  We need to overturn this law to help prevent harm to our loved ones.

 

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

 

Sylvia’s comments and thoughts shared

Sylvia Fuerstenburg, Executive Director of The Arc of King County, has again written an essay regarding the advocacy of The Arc for people against the right to live in supportive communities.   I just cannot wrap my brain around how an advocacy group, which receives thousands of dollars of public funds each year, is allowed to openly discriminate against a segment of the population which they are PAID to advocate for.  They clearly do not understand the situations of those who have homes in supportive communities and do not seem to realize that moving many of these people from their chosen communities and homes will only increase the crisis to the community as a whole.

Below is my letter to Ms. Fuerstenburg and Mr. Lance Morehouse, the Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator for King County Parent Coalition:  Please send your comments also.  I do not think that my comment will be published given past history of The Arc blocking critical information for families regarding supportive communities. but I keep trying to get through.

Dear Sylvia and Lance,

I would appreciate the opportunity to make a comment regarding your letter in the December Newsletter.  I do hope that my comments will be available for all to read and discuss.

I wholly support the mission of The Arc to advocate for people to live in the community of their choosing.  “The Arc believes that all people, regardless of the severity of their disability, can live successfully in the community with individualized and appropriate supports.”  I think that all advocates believe this – the problem is finding funding and maintaining a stable, qualified support staff as caregivers for those who need supports.

Do you listen to the people in the community talk about the difficulty they have in finding even someone to provide a couple of hours of respite?  Do you read about the very high staffing turnover of caregivers in community homes (up to 45% in some areas).  Do you listen to families of people living in family homes about how many caregivers they interview and hire each year to help with caregiving in the home?   Do you hear the parents who cannot work or who have lost their job because they have used too much “sick” time because they cannot get another caregiver?  Do you hear the families who are bankrupt or struggling financially because they cannot get help caring for their child?  Do you hear the families who use the ER or have to have their child admitted to the hospital for crisis care – the only “respite” those families receive?

It does not appear that The Arc hears these voices – if you did, it would be negligent to increase capacity of this residential population, particularly of those who need high supports, which would then over-tax an already under-funded and under-staffed community residential service system.

I have never heard that one is “too disabled to live in the community” from a person who advocates for a continuum of care, including living in a supportive community.  You’re right, no one is “too disabled” but there are people who do require a team of support people to keep them safe and healthy.  Sure, with unlimited funds, everyone could live in a residential neighborhood – but that is not the reality.  Our funds are limited.

As Lance said in the October 23, 2012 DD Task Force meeting, his son was able to live at home for 17 years with the help of 19 hours a day of licensed nursing care.   I’m very happy that their family had this opportunity but this is not a cost effective system to manage a large number of people who may need this level of nursing and caretaking support.  If all those in the supportive communities chose to live in a neighborhood residential home and required this high level of support to survive, would our state be able to financially handle that?  I know it wouldn’t.  So why then, does The Arc advocate for this type of residential service (which is clearly more expensive than a supportive community) and then say that those in the supportive community are taking more than their share?

It should really be the opposite – our state should be thanking those who choose to share services, and thanking those who choose to live in a supportive community home for many reasons.  These communities have a track record of having a more stable workforce and the fact that many services can be shared among residents is much more cost effective system for those with high support needs.

These supportive communities are far from segregated – in fact, most of the residents who have homes in these communities are out shopping, going to school, participating in parks events, go to church, attend neighborhood and city functions and more.  You just may not be aware of them because they have the support that they need to be out and about – unlike people locked away in their “community residential” home because a caregiver did not show up for work or the staff is untrained in behavior management and therefore unable to take the resident out of the house, or some other reason.

Living in a supportive community allows one more freedom.  Many of our citizens of all ages and types voluntarily choose to live in some sort of supportive community for various reasons.  Why are our citizens with ID/D being denied this right to choose which community is best for them?  Isn’t this discrimination against them due to their disability?  Isn’t the Arc against that type of discrimination?  Apparently not since The Arc advocates, and uses public funds, to do just that – discriminate against our most vulnerable.

It’s time for a change – let people have the choice – true choice – give them the information, allow them to decide what is best for them.

Thank you,

Cheryl Felak, RN, BSN

Photo and link from

December 2012 Newsletter

 http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/437417/c96b185e8e/1461566135/cdb5bffe12/

The Arc o f King County receives publlic funds from King County and Washington State to share information and advocate for individuals with DD

The Arc o f King County receives public funds from King County and Washington State to share information and advocate for individuals with DD