Fact or Fiction Part 2

cost center

“Average” Daily Rates in Washington State for residents with Developmental

Disabilities who live in 4 types of Supportive Residential Care

Regarding the cost of care, it is clear that the comprehensive cost of the care of those with the highest support needs who choose the RHC is the most cost effective care.  As revealed in the report “Assessment Findings for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Served in Residential Habilitation Centers and Community Settings” (2011) residents in RHCs had significantly higher support needs than community residents.  The RHC residents were also significantly more likely to meet both extensive behavior and extensive medical support needs than residents in community residential programs.  “Our current findings suggest very clear difference in medical support needs, with those in RHCs being more likely to have high medical support needs than those in community residential programs.” (Barbara A. Lucenko, PhD and Lijann He, PhD, 2011)


This report also examined the DDD Acuity Scales and found that the residents in the RHCs also  had significantly higher support needs in interpersonal support, protective supervision and Activities of Daily Living (personal care, dressing, bathing, eating) in addition to medical and behavioral support needs. 



Looking at the daily cost of care in each cost center, it is also clear that there is much cost shifting in some areas which make it appear that the cost of care is less expensive.  This is the information that is often not shared when comparing costs.  It is also critical to look at the support needs of the residents in each setting, realizing that those in the RHC have significantly higher support needs and inherently higher costs related to the higher support need.


One other area that is misrepresented is that the “community” ICF/IDs offer the very same services as the state run supported communities of the RHCs.  It is clear by auditing their costs that this is not the case.  Knowing the high support need of the average RHC resident, it is very clear that this average RHC resident could not be safely and cost-effectively cared for in the “Community” ICF/ID since the comprehensive services are only available in the RHC. 

Please see this link below for a description of the cost centers and more information on the data 

 Average Daily Cost of Care


Barbara A. Lucenko, PhD and Lijann He, PhD. (2011, February). Assessment Findings for Person with Developmental Disabilities Served in Residential Habilitation Centers and Community Settings. Retrieved from http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/ms/rda/research/5/36.pdf

In Washington State the term Residential Habilitation Center (RHC) is inclusive of the ICF/ID and the specialized Nursing Facility.  The costs in these reports are only for the ICF/ID part of the RHC.


To The Arc and other Community Advocates for people with Intellectual Disabilities

I am going to be presenting some very critical information.  I do not have a bias for community versus institutional settings for residents as many of you believe I do.  My bias is in the truth and reporting accurately what the reality of the situation is.  My bias is in upholding the US DD Act and upholding the 1999 US Supreme Court Decision of Olmstead.  I believe health and safety are paramount in the individual and their family/guardian’s choice in making the individual choice of what is best for that person.

Please read through the material, re-read Olmstead (or read it for the first time) and the US DD Act and then respond.  I will gladly answer all questions and I have documented all sources.  I welcome comments from people who have read the information or from those who would like more information.   Thank you.

This is why our community resources and our state run institutions are in such crisis – it’s because people are misguided and are using inaccurate and false information to base policies on.   In order for us to turn this crisis around, we need to start seeing things in a more realistic light.

The following quotes are taken from a “research” report authored by DSHS employees.  Read the quotes and then formulate an idea about the care levels for the residents in the 3 environments which were studied.  Then look at the authors’ conclusions and “Key Findings” and see if you agree with their assessments.

“Clients in RHCs had significantly higher support needs indicated for all SIS scales than clients in community residential programs and those supported in other community-based settings.”

“Clients in RHCs had significantly higher Behavioral Support and Medical Support need scores than clients in community residential programs and those receiving other community-based services.”

“Based on the interquartile ranges (25th-75th percentile, where half of each group’s scores lie), represented as a rectangle on each line in the chart below, and the medians (the midpoint of the distribution of scores, represented by the diamond shape inside each rectangle), support needs for RHC clients are typically higher on all scales, and clients residing in community-based settings have more diverse support needs for home living, health and safety, and social activity than clients in RHCs or community residential settings.”

“Clients in RHCs were more likely than those in community residential programs or clients receiving other community-based services to have high scores on all the DDD acuity scales presented below, except for seizure acuity. An extremely large percentage of clients living in RHCs have high acuity levels (and therefore elevated or urgent need) for protective supervision (95.3 percent) and interpersonal support (86.3 percent), and almost three fourths have high acuity levels for activities of daily living (73.6 percent).”

“Clients in RHCs were more likely than those in community residential or other community-based programs to have high acuity levels noted for behavior problems. Over one third have high behavioral acuity scores (40.6 percent). High behavioral acuity scores indicate that the most prominent problem behaviors for these clients are potentially dangerous or life threatening. Clients in RHCs were also more likely to have high medical and mobility acuity than those in the other two residence types, with over one third in RHCs having high medical acuity and one fourth of those in RHCs having high mobility acuity.”

“Clients residing in RHCs had significantly higher support needs than clients in community residential programs who, in turn, had higher needs than those residing in other community-based settings for activities in the following life areas: Home Living, Community Living, Lifelong Learning, Health and Safety, and Social Activities.”

“The more restrictive the setting, the greater the likelihood of having high medical support needs.”

“Our current findings suggest very clear differences in medical support needs, with those in RHCs being more likely to have high medical support needs than those in community residential programs, and those in community residential programs being more likely to have high medical support needs than those in other community-based settings. Specifically, clients served in RHC’s were more likely to have an exceptional medical support need than those in either of the community settings, and clients in community residential settings were more likely to have one than those in other community-based settings.”

“With updated data for long-term RHC residents, there is now a clear difference; with those in RHCs more likely to have a medical support needs score greater than five than those in community residential or other community-based settings.”

The quotes above are all taken from “Assessment Findings for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Served in Residential Habilitation Centers and Community Settings” by Barbara A. Lucenko, PhD and Lijian He, PhD.

“The purpose of this report is to examine the similarity of support needs among DDD clients living in the following three settings: 1) Residential Habilitation Centers (long-term residents of RHCs with recent full assessments of need), 2) community residential, and 3) DDD clients supported in other community-based settings.” (Lucenko, 2011) yet in the Key Findings the authors  DO NOT address the 3 areas but have arbitrarily combined the RHC and Community Residential into one group and Other Community into the second group.  By doing so, they have invalidated all the work of the study and have not addressed the purpose of the report.

This misleading report is what legislators were given to base their decisions on.  I urge anyone with any academic or research based background to look at this report and testify as to the validity of the authors conclusions.  This type of academic or research reporting would be thrown out of any “real” academic study so why does our legislature allow such shoddy work to guide policy?

Of the 7 areas assessed by DDD for Support needs (acuity), the average RHC resident scores HIGH in 3.61 of the areas, Community Residential in 2.05 and Other Community in 1.61.  This clearly indicates that the average RHC resident requires more support than the average Community Resident.

Residents with mutliple areas of HIGH Needs

What is an Intellectual Disability (ID)

This is a short video put out by The American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.  It helps to clarify what these terms mean.   I have tried to communicate for years – IQ cannot be the only determining factor in seeing how a person is able to function.  This multidimensional definition is much more in tune with reality.

The highlights of the information are:

There can be HUGE differences between someone with a developmental disability and one with an intellectual disability – a person with a DD does not necessarily have an ID. I would venture to say that every person who lives in the  Residential Habilitation Center (RHC)  has an ID of significant support needs.

Also with these new definitions they are looking more holistically and in a multidimensional view of human function.

These are:

1. Intellectual

2. Adaptive behavior

3. Health

4. Participation

5. Context (cultural aspect)

The definition of ID must include the individual’s assessed supports needs. The person’s level of function is directly related to the supports they receive. When you look at the potential with appropriate supports then you have a complete system.

The supports must be sustainable in order to maintain functioning of the system.

We have the appropriate support systems in place for our residents who live in the RHC – and it has taken a lot of work to get to this point, we have oversight, we have trained staff, we have community, we have health care – we want others to have these same critical supports and this is why we advocate so strongly for a continuum of care.

Removing these supports from those who need them to function is not in the best interest of ANYONE.

Interesting Comments From The Arc of Snohomish County

This goes back to my own (non-scientific but easy and useful) assessment of function and needed supports for RHC communities:

1.  Can the person independently cross the street

2.  Can the person independently go to a familiar grocery store, pick out one familiar item, stand in line and pay for the item?

3.  Can the person independently and appropriately manage their own personal care needs?

My guess would be that for people who need supports to do all 3 of the above tasks, their support needs are quite high.  It would be extremely difficult and expensive to safely care for this person in an independent living home.  For people who have this high of support needs and for those who choose to live in an RHC community, the RHC community is the safest, least restrictive  and most cost effective environment for them.  This is where they will consistently receive the needed supports from trained and knowledgable staff in order to function at their optimal level.

This is not everyone’s choice but for those who do choose this environment,

why are they being denied that human and civil right?