This morning in the NYTimes, I wake up to Danny Hakim's story about group homes in New York. I don't know whether to be angry or relieved about what his investigation turned up.
It's "the nightmare" most of us live with and the reason why we hold on to caring for Elisabeth because she is the most vulnerable here.
Instead of crimes like rape being committed against them in institutions tucked away from society, the crimes are being perpetrated right from under our noses, in our own neighborhoods. Maybe it's not where we put them for independent living that is the problem. Maybe it's with whom we put them in regard to "group homes" independent lifestyles.
The issue (unfortunately) will become another political debate about how unions and state funded programs are no longer reliable. The debate will be about how we are wasting our money on government programs instead of looking at ways we can make it safer.
Our voices are never heard and drowned out by politicians who want to wittle away at government funding for our children. The same people who will never be in need of assisted living housing even though we are a nano second from becoming disabled. The same people who will have the financial resources and support to put their loved one's in the best of care. (On the flip side, we figured out that it's cheaper to send Elisabeth on a cruise the rest of her life than it would be for her to live in even the cheapest assisted living home here in Cincinnati.)
Naturally, many people tend to think that privatizing care is the only solution when in reality we just traveled down that road not so long ago in Texas. Remember when we found all those residents living in filth because the housing went unregulated and unsupervised? In fact, privatizing care will only create more inequity in housing options for our family and friends.
Instead, we should be debating the "quality of care" regardless whether it's a private or state funded home. We need to make it easy to get rid of people we suspect are abusing or taking advantage of our family and friends. And we need to do away with this mentality of "out of sight, out of mind." Visiting them once a year? C'mon, we can do better than that! I don't care how busy you are. If we don't show how much we care about our family and friends, why would we expect others to care?
We need to put our money where our mouth is.
When it comes to clothing, toileting, showering our family and friends, there should always be at least one licensed medical professional present to supervise the attendants. Not that the LMP is less likely to do something as horrible as what we read in the article, but that there is at least one person present other than the attendant when tending to the private needs of the residents.
And we have to do a better job treating the attendants and assistants with respect. Maybe we need to be more discretionary in requiring more professional screening and training than what we allow right now. It's a difficult job caring for the adult population of special needs as many parents will tell you.
Maybe the bar isn't high enough in either private or government care. Maybe our expectation isn't high enough. Care for this population is only worth it's weight in gold....