Providers continue caring for people with intellectual disabilities despite pandemic
Across the country, workers who provide essential services for people with intellectual disabilities continue to do so during the pandemic.
West Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — Across the country, workers who provide essential services for people with intellectual disabilities continue to do so during the pandemic. But they’re not being included in financial distributions or receiving any help to get Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This can put both providers and recipients at risk.
United Cerebral Palsy of South Carolina provides housing for people with developmental disabilities.
“We provide support to adults with severe lifelong disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, autism, down syndrome, etcetera,” said Brad Beasley, Executive Director of UCP.“We have 20 four-bedroom homes, and we have 20 one-bedroom apartments. And we serve about 100 people with disabilities. Staff we have about 170.”
Right now, those living in the homes and apartments aren’t able to leave.
“They’re at higher risk because they live in a group setting. You’ve got four, unrelated adults living in one home, although each have their own bedrooms. It just being in that congregate setting is an increased risk factor for them,” said Beasley.
Staff is also at risk, because they provide close care 24/7.
“Their job duties that they do, they have to have close contact and touch the folks because they are toileting the folks, they’re helping them eat, dress, bathe,” said Beasley.
They are talking to residents about what’s going on, even though many can’t fully grasp the concept.
“We do inform the folks, basically daily, about what’s going on in society, what’s the disease, how to prevent it, and things like that,” said Beasley.
UCP hasn’t gotten any help from small business loans or the CARES Act.
“The CARES Act, we need to be included in that but we didn’t. Because our staff is just like any other nursing home staff that provide that direct, close contact, touching in order to meet the person’s needs,” said Beasley.
But Beasley said they’ll continue providing the essential services, as we all learn to navigate this new normal.
“It’s much worse than the floods, and tornadoes and any kind of hurricane we’ve had. This is a monstrosity, this is crazy,” he said.
In-person family visitation is no longer allowed, but they have incorporated virtual visits so loved ones can talk to and see their loved ones.