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Home and Community-Based Services: A Gateway to Safety During COVID-19
News coverage is filled with stories about nursing homes and cruise ships, overflowing emergency rooms, and makeshift hospitals set up in public parks. So why are people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) being ignored? Many people with I/DD have underlying health conditions and are at higher risk, especially those living in institutions or in large, congregate settings where COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire.
At an institution in Denton, Texas, where 400 people with disabilities live, 54 have COVID-19 and 50 employees are infected.
At a state-run facility in Danvers, Massachusetts, 40% of residents are infected, plus 55 nurses who work at the facility.
In Illinois, two institutions are experiencing such extreme outbreaks that the National Guard is being called in to help with temperature checks.
You see, even in 2020, tens of thousands of people with I/DD live in institutions across 36 states. These settings are called many things, like intermediate care facilities (ICFs) for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, “state schools,” “state operated developmental centers” or “state hospitals.” And, thousands of people with I/DD live in nursing homes too.
Where is the outrage?
We know that in the face of the pandemic, people with disabilities are safest when they live in their communities. Home and community-based services (HCBS) funded by Medicaid—which include critical services like direct support professional services—help make this possible. The workforce in and outside of institutions must have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure the safety of individuals with disabilities and staff. But so far congressional relief packages have not yet met the needs of people with disabilities and the families and professionals who support them. As Congress deliberates what will be included in package 4, we must include grant funding for HCBS to keep people with disabilities out of dangerous congregate settings and safe in their homes and communities.
The Arc was founded by parents who wanted more for their children with I/DD than life in an institution, and for 70 years, we have fought for the right to live in the community—a fight that is more important now than ever before.
victory for People with disabilities:
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CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership
Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people. www.c-q-l.org
There are numerous ways that the human services field can access the latest and most relevant information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and specifically how to support people with disabilities during the crisis.
CQL has compiled a list of toolkits, resources, and information to provide some guidance on better understanding and being responsive to COVID-19. These will assist human service organizations and support staff during this ever-changing situation.
From the Center on Disability Rights
The Impact of the Coronavirus Underscores the Importance of passing the Disability Integration Act (S.117/HR.555)