Catch 22 – The Arc “issue”

I recently came across an article written by Irene Tanzman on LinkedIn entitled “Advocacy Organization Catch 22” published June 22, 2015.  I would encourage reading this and in addition taking a look at some of the other insightful articles that she has published.  I felt a breath of fresh air when I first read this yesterday.

There are many concerns regarding “The Arc Issue” as I will call it.  In addition to the facts that Ms. Tanzman has addressed it is important to realize that in order for a chapter to call itself “The Arc” that chapter needs to be aligned with the agenda and policies of the national organization.   Every local and state Arc sign an affiliation agreement with Arc US that the chapter will support the policies of Arc US.  if for some reason a chapter does not support a particular position they are to remain silent and not comment.   So, regardless of what is happening in your region or state, your local Arc can only speak on policies that are dictated from the national organization.

The national policy of The Arc US (taken many years ago in the late 70’s and early 80’s) is that “community” is best and ALL people can be served in the “community.”  There are many problems with this policy:

  1. It is outdated
  2. It is not in alignment with the 1999 US Supreme Court Decision Olmstead v. L.C.
  3. It is not person-centered
  4. It does not indicate why they think this is best, or how it will be achieved.

What are some of the solutions?

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

Manic Psychosis tape

We hear so much about people with developmental disabilities.  Many advocates take family members to Olympia to meet our legislators.  There are many of us who have family members who are not able to go to Olympia to advocate for themselves.  I have been asked, if Fircrest is so great, why don’t we see residents down in Olympia?  This question was asked of me by one of the executive directors of a chapter of The Arc in our state.  Obviously she is unaware of the issues which most of our family members whose home is in an ICF/DD face everyday in their lives.

For an example, I am publishing this audio of my son.  What you will hear was very typical for every day in our house and would go on for hours and days.  Maybe after listening to this, that particular Arc executive will understand why ICF/DD residents are not able to advocate for themselves.

This is my reality.  Sound quality not the best (sorry) and audio starts at 1 minute

Please Listen to Us!

I am attaching some very interesting documents.  What I would love to know is if the Department of Social and Health Services and The Department of Developmental Disabilities are listening to the people they are serving.

To me, from looking at the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) DDD Assessment Report dated January 31, 2009, it clearly outlines the numbers of people and the programs and services requested.

JLARC Final Report 013109 DDD assessment

This is what I find very interesting and confusing:

Program Requests:

ICF/MR – 20

Roads to Community Living – 1

Service Requests:

RHC or ICF/DD services – 40

Roads to Community Living – 1

Looking at what was requested by the people, it is clear that the people are requesting the ICF/DD services much more than the Roads to Community Living Services.  Why then, is the Department downsizing the ICF/DD’s and putting thousands of dollars into the RCL program?  Why is the State of Washington spending over $250,000 on a “Family Mentoring Project” for the Roads to Community Living when it is clear that the people involved are not even asking for this? Is this being a responsible steward of our public funds? Is this being cost effective?

It is time to listen to those who really receive the services and programs – not those who masquarade as their advocates.  The people have clearly spoken and they are asking for the services in the ICF/DD’s.

Please Listen to Them!

Number of Programs which DDD Clients Access:

Number of progrmas which DDD clients access

Other DSHS Services Received by DDD Clients:

Services Received by DD Clients in FY 2008

Formation of Washington State Task Force to Look at DDD Services

Attached below is my letter to Don Clintsman, Assistant Director, Division of Developmental Disabilities.  He had responded to a letter which I had written to MaryAnne Lindeblad, Assistant Secretary, Aging and Disabilities Service Administration, inquiring about the formation of the Task Force and the importance for a balanced perspective of the participants.

Dear Mr. Clintsman,

 

Thank you for responding to my letter to Ms. Lindebland.  It is hopeful to hear that the The Department of Social and Health Services and the Department of Developmental Disabilities finally understand the concept of and have adopted the term “continuum of care.”

 

We, as grassroots disability advocates have always stressed the importance of the continuum of care, realizing that each person needs to be looked at individually and their needs met according to their assessed support needs.  The only way to accomplish this goal and also accomplish it within a reasonable budget is to continue to offer the full continuum of care to all – regardless of their age group.

 

Once one realizes the critical importance of this continuum, I’m hoping that the budget figures and reports will more accurately be reported to reflect the true cost of care – especially for our most vulnerable citizens and those with high acuity levels in several areas. 

 

It has never been disputed that citizens with high acuity can be accommodated in neighborhood communities and it’s wonderful that this arrangement can work for many.  It is neither realistic nor safe to consider this the best option or even a viable option for many of our citizens who currently reside in the state operated residential communities or those who have requested admittance but have been denied access to these communities. 

 

Given the many constraints of resources – not only dollars – but people and housing, it only makes economic sense to utilize the concept of “scale of economies.”  This concept utilizes the fact that being able to serve more people with the same type of support needs and sharing some of those services within a community actually saves dollars.  Within these communities, the residents also receive their comprehensive health care – minimizing many transportation costs, emergency back up costs, and extra personnel costs used to transport residents to other appointments just to highlight a few examples of costs which are often forgotten.   The residents have much better preventative care and follow-up care, are not traumatized by being “taxied” around town for various appointments such as lab draws, xrays, dental exams, eyeglass fittings, etc. 

 

I will highlight one example of a woman in her mid 30’s.  She lives in a supported living arrangement, has cancer and many other health related problems.  She came through the department in which I work to have her port-a-cath changed due to mismanagement and infection.  This is very unusual to need a port-a-cath replaced, particularly if the first one has only been in a short while.   This woman presented in surgery, unaccompanied by a guardian, unable to comprehend all that was going on.  She had missed many of her scheduled doctor’s appointments related to not only her cancer treatment but preventative and follow-up care for other health issues.  It is stories such as this that I see as totally preventable when a person lives in a residential community with comprehensive care.  What budget does the cost of her care due to mismanagement of her health problems get attributed to?  This doesn’t even take into the account the effects of pain and suffering to this woman. 

 

I know from  looking at many sources which DDD and DSHS provide regarding costs of care, services requested and provided and even the cost of care for the 30 highest cost DDD residents  that you provided to me, the figures that have been used for cost comparison are extremely inaccurate with missing costs, cost shifting and data input errors.    Data that was used for these cost comparison reports was taken from reports with many inaccuracies – therefore, the data pulled is essentially useless if getting an accurate assessment of the cost was the goal.   

 

 

In addition to the issues of safety for our residents, we must also look at safety and training for the caregivers.  I will be looking into the L&I cost of “on the job injuries” to caregivers and charting from which type of facility the highest percentages originate from. 

 

Again, hearing that The Department has now adopted and supports a continuum of care, maybe we can really move forward with innovative systems which are cost effective to safely support our most vulnerable citizens. 

 

I will be following up this letter with data which supports the need for a continuum of care.  In addition to having accurate data, it is critical for some very prominent advocacy groups to realize that denying our citizens with the support needs which are available in the residential communities is not only denying these people their human and civil rights but will weaken the whole system by putting an undue financial burden on our state.  These actions which they advocate for will actually minimize the services to many who have less acute support needs.  The dollar can only be stretched so far without something giving.

 

 If one were to follow their example of “everyone needs to live in the community” I’m afraid that we will lose many of our beloved family members. 

 

Again, thank you for your follow-up letter and I will be communicating with the Task Force Members often once the committee has been decided.

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.

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!