Some say information lacking in sudden closing of group homes
BY CHRISTIN NANCE LAZERUS email@example.com October 11, 2013 11:16PM
Louise Anderson said she did not know her 27-year-old grandson was being transferred out of this group home in Crown Point until the day before he was moved to a facility in Indianapolis. | Christin Nance Lazerus/Post-Tribune
Updated: November 13, 2013 6:07AM
Louise Anderson was calling her 27-year-old grandson one Wednesday earlier this month when she found out he was being moved out of his Arc of Northwest Indiana group home in Crown Point the next day.
“No one had contacted us,” Anderson said. “The woman who answered the phone didn’t know where he was being moved, and we were finally told he was moving to Indianapolis shortly before 9 a.m. on Thursday.”
A total of 22 supervised living group homes operated by The Arc of Northwest Indiana — homes which served 90 disabled clients — were shut down by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration on Oct. 3, due to health and safety issues. From errors in dispensing medication to difficulty in preventing bed sores, many of the issues stemmed from maintaining an adequate nursing staff.
The FSSA made the decision in late September, so not much time was available to set up alternate living arrangements.
Since then, Anderson has been in contact with local service providers, including TradeWinds, but she wishes there had been more of an effort made to place residents locally.
“When I called, Brady asked, ‘Grandma, are you coming to get me?’ I told him ‘No, maybe next Friday.’ It’s long way to and from Indy, and I can’t go and get him to visit for a weekend so easily.”
FSSA spokesman Jim Gavin said the agency contacted all legal guardians and attempted to arrange for The Arc of Northwest Indiana residents to stay near families when possible, but they prioritized a client’s immediate health and safety over anything else.
“We did our best to keep people local,” Gavin said in an e-mailed statement. “In some cases we had to make hard decisions based on what was best for the consumer — who could stay in the Lake County area and be near their family versus those who would be better off staying with the housemates they’d become familiar with.”
The Arc of Northwest Indiana spokeswoman Sue Crisman said the organization has been in touch with several different providers to provide former clients’ families an idea of their options.
“We’re all working together on this considering the very short turnaround we had from when we were notified on Oct. 1,” she said. “It’s a sad time for all of us. Some of our staff are making plans to visit.”
Most residents were taken to facilities run by Easter Seals Arc of Northeast Indiana in Ft. Wayne.
In the few days between the announcement and the move, placements for residents could happen immediately, according to TradeWinds CEO Jon Gold, but now they are not considered an emergency, so families must contact a local Bureau of Developmental Disabilities office to process a request. Eight families have requested a placement at TradeWinds so far, Gold said.
“We reached out independently to the FSSA a few weeks ago, but nothing ever came of that,” Gold said. “It’s very traumatic for people to be transported away from where they are used to. We’re here to help people.”
Gavin said the Ft. Wayne facility is only meant to be a temporary solution.
“This week FSSA is scheduling appointments with legal guardians to determine what they would like to happen with their loved ones going forward,” Gavin said. “Every family (legal guardian) will be given choice.”