OLYMPIA — Eleven recognized and established advocacy groups for people with disabilities and those who receive community-based care have joined with the state Department of Social and Health Services to develop recommendations on how to further ensure the safety and well-being of people receiving various long-term care services.

    A new subcommittee of the Adult Abuse/Neglect Response Workgroup will analyze DSHS’ current system and develop recommendations about specific steps the Department can take to improve its response to abuse and neglect of clients receiving services in their own homes, supported living programs, adult family homes, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

    The subcommittee’s formation follows a recent report, “Too Little Too Late: Ending Tolerance of Abuse and Neglect,” prepared by Disability Rights Washington and Columbia Legal Services. The report includes recommendations to improve the ability of DSHS to respond to allegations of abuse or neglect with more focus on ensuring that victims are protected from further harm and that support systems are in place to help them recover from any abuse or neglect they have suffered.

    “This is a very strong coalition of advocates and the Department is anxious to begin working with the expertise each organization brings to the group,” said Jane Beyer, interim assistant secretary for the DSHS Aging and Disability Services Administration.

    “The report by Disability Rights Washington and Columbia Legal Services focuses on the state’s Supported Living Program – where people with disabilities are provided services in their own homes. We’ve asked this new subcommittee to recognize the needs of all vulnerable adults receiving long-term care services in community settings,” she said.  “They all should be assured they are free from abuse and neglect.”

    The subcommittee will consider the recommendations of Disability Rights Washington and Columbia Legal Services, and focus on the following areas for improvement:

    Timely reports and appropriate prioritization of abuse and neglect allegations and suspicions that:

Prioritize investigations of more serious allegations of abuse or neglect over less serious complaints about regulatory compliance.

More consistently educate clients’ support staff and other professionals regarding what to report and when to report it .

    Prompt investigations to find out what happened to each alleged victim, along with identifying provider practice issues that place or leave clients at risk of abuse or neglect.

    Effective corrections and deterrence of abuse or neglect and unsafe provider practices.

    The DSHS Aging and Disability Services Administration, Disability Rights Washington, Columbia Legal Services, Self Advocacy in Leadership, the Washington State Developmental Disability Council, the Arc of Washington, the Community Residential Services Association, People First of Washington, the Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, the Statewide Parent Coalitions for Developmental Disabilities and Self Advocates of Washington have agreed to support the subcommittee.

    Actual subcommittee members will be determined in the near future.


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