The Arc of Connecticut Applauds Senator Murphy’s Quick Action on Abuse and Neglect of Individuals With I/DD, Urges Broad Investigation

Hartford, CT – The Hartford Courant’s series on deaths, abuse, and neglect of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) sheds light on the need for more oversight and resources for the state’s system. Incidents occurred throughout the sector, from the last remaining institution in Southbury, to state and private run homes, to family settings. On the heels of the paper’s reporting, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy has called for a federal investigation into deaths at federally financed facilities. The Arc supports an investigation, but one that looks at all settings of care because unfortunately, deaths due to abuse and neglect occur across the system, not just in private care settings.

“We applaud Senator Murphy’s swift call for an investigation into these incidents across our system of care for people with I/DD, and we look forward to working with him to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities in Connecticut. Any investigation has to go further than just looking at privately run settings – the data show that in Connecticut, these cases occurred in all settings that people with I/DD live in, from our institution to state run facilities to privately run homes to family settings. In order to make real progress in preventing deaths caused by abuse and neglect, we must have a broad conversation that looks at all of these settings, and takes a hard look at what we are investing in our fellow Connecticut residents.

“Budget cuts aren’t just about dollars, cents, and deficit projections – the lives of people are at stake. When we have a system that provides wages that don’t reflect the importance of the work carried out, and training that doesn’t prepare people for the situations they will face, we are putting lives at risk. There are many facets to this problem, and The Arc will continue to work with families, other organizations serving people with disabilities, Senator Murphy, and other stakeholders to end horrific mistreatment of people with I/DD,” said Leslie Simoes, Executive Director of The Arc of Connecticut.

The Arc is eager to take a leadership role in making the system better for everyone we support including placing the investigations in the hands of an independent entity with power to require meaningful remedial relief and making the results of investigations public so that there is transparency in what is going on and how government is responding. Another systemic change would include providing families with copies of abuse investigations and the remedial recommendations; this is a huge longstanding deficiency in the investigations conducted by Office of Protection and Advocacy and The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) that has gone unchanged for far too long.

Contact: Leslie Simoes, Executive Director, The Arc Connecticut, lsimoes@arcofct.org, (860) 246-6400 x101

The Arc Joins Million Hearts™ to Help Save Lives From Heart Attacks and Strokes

Heart attacks and strokes are the 1st and 4th leading causes of death in the United States each year. Everyday 2,200 people die from cardiovascular disease in America. In addition heart disease and stroke are also among the leading causes of disability in our country, with more than 3 million people reporting serious illness or a decrease in the quality of life afterwards.

Many people may not even be aware that they are at a high risk for a heart attack or stroke. The Arc has taken the pledge to help increase awareness of cardiovascular disease by partnering up with Million Hearts. Million Hearts was created in attempt to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are co-leading this initiative, which hopes to raise awareness by educating people on the associated risks of heart attacks and strokes, encouraging exercise, and maintaining a healthy diet to reduce cholesterol and sodium intake. By learning the “ABCs” of preventing heart disease and stroke (Aspirin Therapy, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation) we can empower individuals to make healthier choices to reduce these occurrences. Million Hearts is bringing together a variety of public and private sectors to help spread their educational campaign across the country and find innovative ways to use technology and information sharing to promote these efforts.

Individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability are at an even higher risk than the rest of the population for heart attacks and stroke. It is shown that individuals with I/DD are less likely to maintain routine check-ups, receive the medical attention or medicines they need to sustain their health or have enough health knowledge to be aware of their own health disparities to make healthier choices. The Arc’s HealthMeet project is helping to educate and promote healthy behaviors, by providing free health assessments, educational webinars, trainings, and activities to increase fitness in hopes to create a change in individual’s lifestyles leading to fewer instances of heart attacks and strokes. Log on to The Arc’s HealthMeet page on our website to learn more about the project and access health resources that can help you put your heart’s health into your own hands.

Helping Dreams Come True While Helping the Environment

By Caleb Wilson, Vocational Director, The Arc of Clarion and Venango Counties Inc.

A valuable lesson we have learned through our efforts of connecting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to community-based employment opportunities is that the idea of creating a business around someone’s interests and abilities is not commonplace. Some individuals have always dreamed of being their own boss and owning their own business. Keeping that in mind, The Arc of Clarion and Venango Counties started assisting individuals in creating their “Dream Job” of owning their own business.

The Arc and Walmart Foundation’s eXplore eRecycling Initiative has made it possible for us to assist a small group of individuals experiencing disabilities with starting a business that helps residents and community businesses/organizations recycle their old electronics in an environmentally sound way. From the development of the business plan and policies, The Arc eRecycling of Clarion and Venango Counties has truly been an effort led by these employees.

To comply with Pennsylvania’s Covered Device Act, we have held two free e-waste drop off days in both Clarion and Venango Counties. These events brought in over 4,000 pounds of old electronics that do not work or that people simply do not wish to own anymore.   Additionally, several local city offices have started referring their residents to The Arc eRecycling for their needs and this has given us the opportunity to recycle hundreds of computer monitors and televisions. With a motto of “We take anything with a plug” each day customers have the ability to drop off any electronic. In order to meet the interests of some employees, The Arc eRecycling of Clarion and Venango Counties started creating catalogs to resell old electronics that are still in working condition. This not only allows the business to help the environment but to help individuals find reasonable priced electronics.