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

DD Service System Task Farce

So far I have learned that the task farce is not interested in facts – they refuse to look at real data or question the same recycled and inaccurate data which has been used over and over again for years – the very same data which has escalated the care crisis for our citizens with developmental disabilities.  Below are some of my observations:

  • There is no concern for escalating costs for programs which are new and untested which will serve less than 6 clients a year.
  • There is no awareness that the cost for high support needs clients in the community is much higher than the cost for a similar person in the Residential Habilitation Center (RHC).  Yes, we all know that there are many which very high support needs who live successfully in the community – but their costs are also high.  Lance Morehouse, Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator for King County Parent Coalition stated during one Task Farce meeting that his son lived at home for 17 years with the help of 19 hours a day of licensed nursing care without blinking an eye with regards to stating how he cares about all those without any services.   Am I missing something here?  How can one proudly state that they used that many service dollars (certainly much more than the daily cost for a client in the RHC) and then complain that the clients in the RHC (who gladly share services) are taking more than their fair share – doesn’t make sense to me.
  • There is no awareness that sharing services saves money
  • There is no awareness that people have a choice as to what the least restrictive environment for them is
  • There is no adherence to Olmstead with regards to choice, least restrictive environment or cost to the state.
  • It is not a concern that there is a huge lack of oversight in community residential settings
  • Even though our state has space and capability to provide services on the RHC campuses for those in community settings, the fact that it may take some” work to figure out an accounting system” seems daunting – yet on the other hand DDD has worked on building a program from the ground up with many unseen problems with a seemingly  limitless budget to service just a handful of clients.  This program will be experimental.  Is this a less costly and less labor intensive project than figuring out an accounting system?
  • Senator Adam Kline pushed his bill through the legislature based on inaccurate data and prematurely closed off services to our youth – yet he states he cares?   How can that be?

 

I realize that those in the driving seat will do whatever they want with little regard for facts or human lives at stake.  I find these actions negligent and inhumane.  Do they even care about the harm they are doing?

In order to change the name from DD Task Farce to DD Task Force, this group will have to look at accurate data.  I wonder if that will happen?

As many of you know we are in the midst of our DD Service System Task Force (or should I say Farce?)

19 hours a day

Lance Morehouse, Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator from The Arc of King County Parent Coalition for Developmental Disabilities, stated the following on September 25, 2012  as a member of the Developmental Disabilities Service System Task Force in Washington State. 

 

Lance (From The Arc of King County):”The comment about people who are more complicated or more profound being served by the RHC, I’d just like to ask Don really quick,  I think the data that I’ve seen has shown that the majority of the people ,Lance, Jr. had 19 hours a day of nursing care in our home and he lived in, it wasn’t an RHC but a children s  home in Spokane for the first year and a  half after he passed away and my experience was he almost passed away before we were able to bring him home but he lived another 17 years in our home with the nursing care, but isn’t there data that shows some of the people with the most intensive health care needs are living at home with their families?

Don (From DSHS):  “That is accurate.”

 

My questions and comments are:

1.  No one has said that those with significant disabilities and high support needs cannot live in a community residential setting.  

2.  Did anyone hear what Lance said?  His son had 19 hours of licensed nursing care in their home for 17 years.  Has anyone wondered what our state paid for that care?  

3.  Lance is quick to point out that the care in the RHC is expensive and that there are many in the community with no services.  

4.  How can one talk about the personalized care in an individual’s home and stating that we need to have more people utilize this expensive care (when those same people are content to share services in the RHC at a lesser cost to our state) and then go on to talk about all those with no services and that the people in the RHC are taking more than “their fair share”  

5.  Are not these issues logically opposite?  

6.  What happened to the concept of sharing services for the better good of all?  This is exactly what those who choose to live in congregate care are doing.  They are saving money and resources by sharing with others.  Why is this so wrong?