Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Watch (photograph), Listen (record), Report"

It’s time to reopen the can of worms around the vulnerability of people with profound developmental disabilities. Readers of this blog have probably noticed the story from a 2007 Oregonian article regarding the abuse and neglect of such folks as a link on the blog’s home page. If you haven’t clicked on it, may I suggest you do so.

What has me perplexed is the obvious absence of any interview done with the state’s Office of Investigations and Training staff. These are the people responsible for stepping in when abuse occurs, to investigate the facts. Was Michelle Roberts unaware of this as she wrote the piece? Did none of the other people she interviewed point her in that direction for information? If not, the question is; “why not”? Though the article became a good starting point for looking at what happens to these folks, it fails to ask the “hard” questions, and only deals with the surface of the problem.

There is a lot of corruption coupled with conflicts of interest in the developmental disabilities system here in Oregon. Until these underlying problems are addressed properly, it will continue to be the same old same old. Genuine reform cannot take place without thorough investigation.

Last year the “advocates” came up with an idea which they turned into a poster, which was to be placed in “all” settings where people with developmental disabilities are served in their community. The poster says “Watch, Listen, Report”, as a reminder that people working with profoundly disabled folks are mandatory reporters; required to report suspicious or blatant abuse. I found out back in December through a phone call to Eva Kutas (director of the Office of Investigations and Training) that there should be a camera in such places to photograph occurrences. There’s no rule about it, no mandate about it, it’s simply best practice. Is that strange, or what? I also believe it should be REQUIRED that a tape recorder be available as well. Then the poster could say; “Watch (photograph), Listen (record), Report”. This would keep folks MUCH safer.

More to come on this subject...

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