Ever since Gov. Gregoire proposed in her budget to close all of the residential habilitation centers, (RHCs), I have been asking: "What would be gained?"
"Revenue savings?" Hardly! Even though the closure study missed many of the costs associated with "community" services for people with developmental disabilities, it did admit that RHC closures would cost the state money!
Liberation for RHC residents? From what? From their homes and friends? From excellent care, services and activities? How about from safe environments and programs assured by Federal audits ?
RHC residents are not prisoners. Their parents and guardians probably had to struggle to have them admitted. Despite the general rule that people receiving short term admissions (the only ones permitted), will be returned to "community" placements, some guardians are so happy with RHC care and services that they petition for long term residence.
"Better services for current RHC residents?" No.
For 3 reasons:
1) Most still living in RHCs are those requiring the most intensive services, more so than most "community" providers can offer. When DSHS last attempted to close Fircrest, it opened it's doors to "community" vendors who were encouraged to "window shop" for potential clients. Repeatedly and often, "community" vendors were reported to have said, "Keep Fircrest open: our facility cannot take care of these people."
2) RHC s comply with Federal Standards and are required to pass stringent audits; the quality assurance by the state for it's privatized, "community" clients is weaker.
3) Emergency departments, jail or mental hospitals are poor alternatives for people with developmental disabilities whose medical, psychiatric or behavioral conditions escalate beyond their "community" placements' capacity to accommodate them. RHCs provide the safety net and venues for their stabilization, in most cases for return to the "community".
So....what am I missing?