2016-01-20 / Letters to the Editor

DHHS cuts hurting those in need

We have been informed by Waban Projects Inc., who provides residential services for our daughter Lindsay (age 37) that under the new (Dec. 8, 2015) DHHS Supporting Individual Success rate-setting initative rule, Lindsay’s staff support hours would be greatly reduced in July 2016.

Lindsay’s current 168.07 weekly hours of residential staff support would be reduced by 69 hours per week. Under the SIS system rule, Lindsay would receive 99 hours of residential staff support each week. This is a 41-percent reduction in authorized staffing and service hours.

While there is a process in the rule for applying for Qualified Extra Support Service Hours (QESS) that could provide additional support hours, unfortunately the staffing qualifications and requirements are so restrictive that neither Waban nor any other agency will be able to meet them.

In May 2015, Lindsay received a Category 5 level on the SIS scale. Adults in this level have significant behavioral challenges, regardless of their support need to complete daily activities or for medical conditions. Adults in this level need enhanced 24/7 supports due to their behavioral challenges.

In this level, an individual has behavioral support needs that are exceptional and require a great amount of assistance. They require full physical assistance of support staff to prevent harm to themselves or to others. Support needs in this domain include prevention of pica, wandering and tantrums, or other forms of self-harm. Given the behavioral challenges experienced by people in this level, employment supports need to be highly specialized.

Lindsay needs 1-on-1 staffing 24/7 to provide assistance in the following areas:

1) She requires experienced, advanced, safety-care-trained staff support at all times who can interpret her verbal and nonverbal behavior prior to escalation and support her through periods of anxiety and confusion, and prevent self-abuse.

2) To redirect inappropriate, unsafe behaviors when she’s feeling anxious and/or frustrated (wrist biting, head butting, hitting, yelling, destruction of property and throwing things).

3) To help her apply coping strategies to ensure safety for herself and staff.

4) To work with Lindsay on desensitiziation of specific triggers (babies, crowds, noise, large dogs, small children).

5) Monitor sleep patterns, insomnia and night-time behavior (up and awake a lot during the night and begins her day at 3:30 to 5:30 a.m.)

6) To administer medications and closely monitor changes in medication.

7) Total assistance with all aspects of hygiene (toiletry-wiping, bathing, shampooing, menses monitoring).

8) Total assistance with menu planning, grocery shopping and food preparation.

9) Needs assistance in navigating stairs and uneven surfaces to prevent falling.

10) She has to be continually watched so that she will not go outside unassisted and dart into traffic (previous history).

11) Total assistance in helping her feel more comfortable in community settings (restaurants, family outings, grocery shopping, recreational activities (bowling, dances etc.). She has a history of attacking strangers in public settings and is a liability concern.

Receiving 99 hours of residential staff support each week would mean a significant and drastic shortfall of needed hours to provide 24/7 support needs. She would no longer have the 24/7 staffing which we feel, her doctors feel (two psychiatrists, a general practitioner and a counselor) and Waban feels is necessary for her safety and well-being. This reduction in authorized hours even brings into question Waban’s ability to provide her with continued residency and to ensure her health, safety and quality of life.

Robert S. and
Luann B. Lawler
Cumberland Foreside

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