Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

February 19, 2013

Community care for disabled a shared responsibility

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — Transition from Oklahoma’s resource centers for the disabled to community care has created quite a bit of unfamiliarity for those who have only known the state option.

However, as those like Garvin County Community Living Center CEO Cathy Cash know from years working with one example of a Pauls Valley alternative, the process can actually be better catered to those looking to be more involved in the client’s lives.

This is because of how things are split up as far as community care is concerned versus having a majority of the services at one location.

“I understand why they are scared and I would be too,” said Cash, noting how many of the parents still living who care for clients at places like the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center have had their loved ones in the same place since they were children.

“It makes it hard to explain to these elderly parents.”

Cash said that providing services for clients isn’t going to be as straight forward as finding one provider for all of the services and the case ends up often being multiple providers providing one service each.

Out of all the clients the living center serves, half of them live in their homes and the rest have housing and other services through other agencies and then come to work through their vocational program.

In fact, Cash said much of the services that agencies employ like medical care are a lot like if a non-disabled person needed a doctor or therapy in that they’d either go to an office in town or for the severely disabled, be with someone who offers home visits.

Cash even compared community care like it is now to what many remember SORC was like before state funding gradually cut services and limited the population they were able to serve. Back in that time period it was their definition of a community and Cash said what one can get in the community can even be better if parents are diligent and make sure the agencies they are with are fulfilling their duties.

Joining Cash in explaining how transition to community care continues to improve in a discussion with the Democrat was Gayla Roberts, Area III program manager with DHS’s Developmental Disability Services Division, noting how many of these older parents are most concerned of what will happen to their loved ones after they are gone.

She noted how these needs are still met even then through the states guardianship program with years of success, some examples including former SORC clients still functioning a couple of decades after their transition at the living center, often with comparable results.

In the end, transition will come down to at least a three to four month period on average for clients where information is gathered on where clients can best prosper and all services are set up with however many agencies are needed, said Roberts. This includes trial visits to see how different homes and services play out and meetings before clients even officially move in.

“We’ve done this for many years and are successful at it,” said Roberts, who encourages parents or guardians always to ask questions until they are satisfied they know everything is provided be it from providers or DHS transition officials.