More than 40,000 Ohioans with disabilities are waiting for a Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver in Ohio, according to recent estimates provided by the Ohio Colleges of Medicine’s Government Resource Center. The number often raises eyebrows among advocates and policymakers, but currently little is known about what services people actually are waiting for or need.
“It’s disheartening when you hear the number,” says Carolyn Knight, Executive Director of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (DD Council). “But it’s just a number, and it doesn’t really tell the whole story about who is on the list and what they are really waiting for.”
Knight says that is why the DD Council — in partnership with DODD, the Government Resource Center, and Kent State University — is funding a study to examine the current and future needs of people with disabilities who are on the waiting list for a HCBS waiver.
The study will include a telephone survey of 1000 individuals who have been randomly selected from the HCBS waiver waiting list. People with disabilities or their family members, caregivers, or guardians will be asked a series of questions about what they need to help them be more independent, or what they might need in the future.
Kent State University will be conducting the telephone interviews beginning in August. Each phone interview is expected to take about seven minutes to complete, and all personal information will be kept confidential. The surveys are expected to be finished sometime in November. Knight emphasized, “We want everyone to know that it is okay to participate in this survey. The survey is voluntary, and participation would not change a person’s position on the waiting list or the services they are waiting to receive.” She adds, “The responses will help us draw a better picture of what services people are waiting for, and will need to live independently.”
DODD Director John Martin added that he hopes the study will help to de-mystify the waiting list, stating, “Generally, everyone knows the waiting list for a waiver is large, and keeps growing,” said Martin. “That’s about the extent of most people’s knowledge of the issue. A study like this will really help everyone understand the nature of the waiting list, and take some of the guesswork out of what people on the list need.”
He added that the study could help the Department, and local County Boards of DD identify needs that can be addressed in the future. Once all surveys have been completed, the Government Resource Center will compile an analysis of the responses received, and estimate the current and future needs of all Ohioans with disabilities who are currently on the waiting list. Study findings will be made available in 2014. For more information: http://www.ddc.ohio.gov/
Excerpted from DODD Pipeline, July 31, 2013
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