Misericordia, a network of services that provides a full continuum of care for over 600 people with mild to profound developmental disabilities in Chicago, hosted the “Together for Choice” conference from October 21 - 23, 2015.
Misericordia provides a range of services from a skilled nursing residence, group homes, and apartments on its 31-acre campus to small neighborhood homes in the surrounding community. It also provides employment opportunities for people with a variety of skill levels in its bakery and coffee shop and other on- campus businesses and off-campus community businesses. The quality of care and the dedication of its staff to the people they serve is obvious to anyone taking the time to tour its facilities and talk to the staff and residents.
It is precisely these kinds of programs that serve a full range of developmental disabilities in a variety of settings that are a likely target for de-funding under the Home and Community Based settings (HCBS) rule that was issued by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last year. While the rule encourages states to shun any association with “institutional” care in its funding of HCBS, the importance of maintaining a full continuum of care to people with severe and complex disabilities is exemplified by the success of Misericordia’s programs and its popularity with the families and individuals it serves.
The Coalition for Community Choice came together in Chicago to represent the many concerns of families over the implementation of the HCBS rule and the CCC's determination to assure that all people with developmental disabilities have available to them a full range of options to meet their needs and to allow them choice in how they live their lives.
A Chicago ABC7 newscast of the event, describes the “The Together for Choice” conference:
"It's giving us the opportunity to pull together many like minds, people that are providing excellent services whether it's a campus setting, a farm setting, individual homes in the community, whatever it is as long as it's for the people that we serve," said Geana Connelly, Misericordia administrator.
"You can be big and good or big and bad. You can be small and good or small and bad. It all depends on the people that are operating these services and staffing that is within those services," Sister Connelly said.
The people at the conference say they just want legislators to remember that the primary concern should be the quality of care, not the size of the facility.
The “Together for Choice” conference was covered by a Chicago ABC 7 newscast on October 25th, 2015. See the report by Hosea Sanders and video of the newscast here.