Sunday, December 04, 2005

Personal Care Homes - The Future?

Today's newspaper headlined "The Fraying Safety Net: Retarded spill into loosely monitored care". The story was about how many metally challenged, or as the article constantly referred to them as retarded, are being pushed onto family members out of group homes. It went on to speak about how the family members are being burdened by the state not helping with any costs. With all the new changes in Medical assistance many people who had been receiving help will now be forced to pay for much of their medical needs or be faced with no care at all. That in and of itself is a big issue for those of us with children or any family member with a disability. It seems that many of the people in charge of the decisions up on capital hill have never been personlly touched by a person with a disability. Unless you have lived it, you just don't understand. Now imagine adding on what I am about to tell you about.
The thing that really bothered me about this article the most was the fact that many of the personal care homes where people with varying degrees of mental disabilities are being housed with convicted sexual offenders. Yes you heard me right. Sexual offendors are being housed in the same building, and some in the same room, as those who are challenged. The article went on to mention how many of the "retarded" were fine with these arrangments (never mind the fact that they may not understand what is going on). To add insult to injury there was a case of one woman who was mentally disabled living with a convicted sexual offender, AS A COUPLE. Perhaps this needs to be looked into. It sounds a little off to me, don't you think? It bothered me because people in power, The Advocacy and Protection officer from the states Office of Mental Retardation, meant to help watch over people with disabilities, were quted to be concerned with the saftey and protection of the residents. Well, if they were concerned they should not have mixed a high risk group with such offenders! The article continued to tell of numersous abuse, neglect and deaths in various personal care homes in and around the area. The system, while set up to help, really allows many individuals to fall trough the cracks and get lost if they don't have someone with a vested interest in that persons well being.
I guess the upshot for me was how important it is for all of us to have a will to clearly spell out what we want and don't want. I certainly am concerned about personal care homes and group homes too, I hope we never have to put our child out in the world in such a vulnerable manner. I also have to agree with my husband, BStrong, who earlier in a post had mentioned us looking to buy a house with a carriage house out back. That way Peanut can have the independance she needs and yet we can keep a close eye on her too. Truthfully, I really can't plan for the future, as no matter where any child or adult with a disability goes, they are more vulnerable. I also may be worrying uneccessrily as Peanut could very well grow up and get married and surprise us by all she can do...only time will tell, but I sure wish my crystal ball would work as it would surely decrease my stress levels....In the meantime, my heart goes out to all those people who are sutck in such horrible situations.


Lori said...

My husband spent many years providing specialized wheelchairs to clients in group homes. He saw firsthand some of the abuse you spoke of. (Of course, when he saw something reportable, he did make the call.)
That was the beginning of our discussions on what to do with Evan when he got older. We have a will that specifies who his guardians are to be if we both die. (I cannot emphasize how important this is!) And since he'll graduate from high school in 1 1/2 years, we have come to the conclusion that he will need to stay with us, as t here are no group homes in our area we deem to be trustworthy. At least we know he'll be safe!
Thanks for the post!

Julana said...

Oh, my. The plight of those with disabilities in this country is so sad. I am ashamed to confess that we still do not have a will made. We MUST get that done. Soon.

The situation in Ohio is partially so bad because our nursing home lobby is so strong. Families get minimal funding to keep an individual at home with community supports. When they feel forced to put their loved one in the nursing home, the nursing home gets four or five times the amount. The nursing homes have a death grip on choice. People cannot even move from one home to another, because the money is actually tied to the bed, not the person.

Kim Ayres said...

Do newspapers still use "retard" as a description for people? Do they use "Nigger" too?


Belovedlife said...

Lori and Julana - I am glad that you have been on the ball and are aware of the situations...there are some places that are not so, but few and far between.

Kim- It is unfortunate that such terminology is still used today. What is even sadder is that there is an office of mental retardation in our state of PA. Lovely isn't it! It really gets me upset.