These are the real folks- whose lives will be impacted by cuts to vital services. These are but a few of those who will be impacted.. but those who arrived to be photographed today include:
Individuals with developmental disabilities who receive "Supported Living" services in their own homes...
Some have but a FEW hours A WEEK, some have 24 hours per day of staff assistance.
There have been proposals to eliminate services for those who do not need "total assistance"- there have been proposals to cut all their hours by 2%, there have been proposals to "reduce" hours.. To "reduce the number of in-home hours authorized (scaled) based on the acuity level of care recipients. The largest hour reductions shall be to lower acuity patients and the smallest hour reductions shall be to higher acuity patients.... THE PROBLEM IS the folks who receive these services CANNOT SUSTAIN ANY FURTHER CUTS.... their hours have already been cut and cut... AND if you cut hours from the "lower acuity patients"... they will very quickly become "higher acuity patients". The folks who only require a few hours a week? It is those hours that keep them seeing their physicians, Mental health providers, completing the housing paperwork that keeps them from losing their shelter, helping with their budgeting, filling prescriptions, cleaning house, etc, etc..
Plain and simple -these folks have been assessed as needing assistance or supervision to obtain/maintain their BASIC needs- by cutting their services what BASIC need are we saying it is ok to go unmet ? What cost are we willing to pay ? What costs are we asking of them and why are we asking this of these folks, did they create our deficit?
Individuals with Mental illness
Many of the folks pictured have a diagnosed mental illness and require medication, case management, supportive services, and other psychiatric care. Without any one of these services - these individuals are at risk of harming themselves- and possibly harming others.
There have been proposals to "freeze" medication for Medicaid patients for 18 months... to reduce MH services by changing eligibility criteria, to close wards at state hospitals etc....
Again, how do these proposals make sense? Individuals who are on psychiatric medications cannot simply "stop" taking them. Can a diabetic just stop their insulin, a transplant recipient stop taking their anti-rejection meds? (Consequently the original proposal to "freeze medications would have frozen ALL medication not just MH meds)...
How can we propose to close units at the state hospitals and say we will use savings to create community placements when one of the other proposals (under DSHS long term care) was to Eliminate in home care hours for those who do not need total physical assistance? This would include ALL but one of the Chronically mentally ill indivuals I work with - who need supervision and cuing in the community to ensure they take their medications, attend psychiatric appts, etc...
Again those who recieve these services have been assessed as requiring the services that are authorized...Without medication, or casemanagment, or in home services, etc etc... they will become unstable, utilize the ER, hospitals, 911 - some will commit crimes, others will die.
What are we thinking ?
Employees who work in Social Services in: DD Supported Living programs, Adult Family Homes, Home Care, and Community Mental Health Clinics.
Those who work in these services do so for the most part because they have a desire to help fellow human beings.
The wages that DD Supported living direct care staff make is typically between $10 -12 per hour. Their wages, benefits, etc. are based on a rate which is determined by the state (the benchmark) and must be passed on by providers to their employees. Among the recent proposals is one to decrease this rate , which would in turn mean a reduction to wage/benefit packages of employees. Our employees DESERVE better and CANNOT afford ANY cut to their wages/ benefits. Many already work 2 or more jobs to support their families; many qualify for state assistance themselves.
Home Care aides serving medicaid clients make a similar wage - MH casemanagers, do not make much more... even supervisors make what most would not consider to be a liveable wage.
I know I have not covered everything but will stop my rant for now… My original intent was to point out that those pictured include but a few of those in the Everett area ALONE who would be impacted by proposed cuts and include those with developmental disabilities, the elderly, mentally ill, and those who provide them services.
Here is their picture, more to come soon
For more info www.sosmovement.com