National Family Caregivers Month 2018: Celebrating a Year of Accomplishment

We hear repeatedly that without family caregivers, our long-term services system would be stretched to the breaking point. Family caregivers make it possible for so many of our nation’s citizens to remain independent, living in the settings of their choice.

Supporting families and family caregivers in their efforts to assist their friends and loved ones is at the very core of the mission of the Administration for Community Living. That gives us a tremendous opportunity to advance how we think about supporting families that include older adults who need assistance in their later years, people with disabilities at every stage of their lives, or both. We also have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of real people, through programs that provide support to families and caregivers.

Every November, we stop to recognize and thank family caregivers for all they do on behalf of their loved ones.  This year, I think we have even more reason to be thankful, to celebrate family caregivers, and to be optimistic for the future of family caregiver support.

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Businesses Increasingly Hiring People With Disabilities

CHICAGO — When Glynis Harvey and Mark Cagley opened Hidden Manna Cafe four years ago, the couple did not set out to hire people with disabilities.

But then a social service agency asked: Might the Matteson restaurant employ a woman with cerebral palsy? How about a man with mild blindness? A customer asked for an application for her sister, who has an intellectual disability.

Harvey and Cagley were good people to ask. They have twin sons, now 28, with autism, and so they understood how difficult it is for people with disabilities to find jobs. They also knew how hard they worked once given the chance.

Full story at Disability Scoop

Celebrating 50 Years of the Architectural Barriers Act

As chair of the U.S. Access Board, I had the privilege of participating in an event today celebrating the anniversary of the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968 and the fifty years of progress it helped spark.

Before the ABA was passed, accessibility standards were often inconsistent — and just as often ignored. The American National Standards Institute developed the first accessibility standards in 1961 with the help of Easter Seals and the research of the University of Illinois. Many states used these early standards to develop accessibility requirements in their building codes. However, other states adopted access requirements that ranged from lax to nearly nonexistent. This resulted in great discrepancies in accessible design requirements from state to state, and in some cases, from city to city.

This had real life impacts. It meant that a wheelchair user could easily go to the post office in one town but not in a nearby state or community. The same problem existed with respect to sidewalks, entrances, bathroom stalls, paths of travel, signage, and everything else that makes a building accessible.

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Summary of Responses from a Request for Information: People with Disabilities and Opioid Use Disorder

The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) at ACL issued a request for information about people with disabilities and opioid use disorder, which yielded comments from 50 respondents, including consumers, community and national organizations, research teams, and federal partners.

Key findings from this effort are helpful to NIDILRR as it considers developing new funding opportunities related to the opioid crisis. These responses provided information about what is known and what are the most pressing research questions for the disability and rehabilitation research fiends. A common thread among respondents was that there are many important unanswered research questions at the nexus of chronic pain, opioid misuse, and people with disabilities.

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Supporting nutrition, Supporting health and independence

We all know that good nutrition is the foundation of good health. Healthy eating can help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight, prevent the onset of chronic diseases, reduce inflammation, and speed recovery from injuries. On the other hand, poor nutrition is connected to a variety of health problems.

Earlier this month, I had lunch with Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, the U.S. Surgeon General. I shared some of the things ACL was working on during National Nutrition Month, and we talked about how important nutrition is for the people ACL serves.

VADM Adams gets it. “People who don’t have enough healthy food are more likely to be hospitalized, tend to experience longer hospital stays, and are more likely to be readmitted after discharge.  Good nutrition is important to everyone, but it is even more critical for those at risk for being food insecure, such as older adults and people with disabilities, many of whom already are already at increased risk of hospitalization.”

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Some Linn County health providers say Medicaid payment changes not sustainable long term

A change in a Medicaid waiver reimbursement system for the state’s special-needs population has left some health providers without enough funding to sustain their services.

Changes to the home- and community-based services waiver — which affects approximately 5,000 Iowans who have traumatic brain injuries, developmental or intellectual disabilities — moved the payment model from a fee-for-service model to a tiered rate system, effective Dec. 1, 2017.

While Iowa Department of Human Services officials say this change will create more stability to the reimbursement system, it leaves some such as Jean Sturtz, who care for those covered by the waiver, concerned for their loved ones’ future.

Full story at The Gazette

National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Removing Barriers and Low Expectations

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and all month we’ve been celebrating the many contributions of workers with disabilities and highlighting some of our work to remove the barriers that often prevent people with disabilities from working.

At ACL, we have a vibrant workforce that benefits from the diversity of experiences contributed by people from all backgrounds, including many people with disabilities. Unfortunately, we are far from typical, and it is a sad fact that people with disabilities are far less likely to be working than their peers. The latest data from the Employment Policy and Measurement Rehabilitation and Research Training Center indicates that 33 percent of working-age people with disabilities participate in the labor force, compared to 77 percent of their peers without disabilities.

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People with disabilities experience unrecognized health disparities, new research shows

People with disabilities have unmet medical needs and poorer overall health throughout their lives, and as a result should be recognized as a health disparity group so more attention can be directed to improving their quality of life, a team of policy researchers has found.ople with disabilities have unmet medical needs and poorer overall health throughout their lives, and as a result should be recognized as a health disparity group so more attention can be directed to improving their quality of life, a team of policy researchers has found.

“Many of the health concerns of people with disabilities, including diabetes, heart disease and obesity, are largely preventive and unrelated to the disability,” said Gloria Krahn of Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences. Krahn is lead author on a new paper advocating the recognition.

Full story of disability experience at Science Daily

Disability, deafness often go hand-in-hand

At least forty per cent of UK people with learning disabilities are suffering from hearing loss, but new research shows they are unlikely to be diagnosed.

The research hearing loss in people with learning disabilities, by Lynzee McShea, who is studying a professional doctorate at the University of Sunderland, focuses on the current issues people with learning disabilities (PWLD) are facing and why they are left undiagnosed in the long-term.

The report, published in the British Journal of Healthcare Assistants, says PWLD are more likely to have hearing loss than the general population but are less likely to have this diagnosed and managed with hearing aids. This is mainly because hearing loss diagnosis relies on self-referral, which is an initial barrier for PWLD, who may not have the awareness that they have a hearing loss, or the communication skills to alert others to this.

Full story of disability and deafness at Science Daily

Little progress made in reducing health disparities for people with disabilities

Psychological distress in people with disabilities is associated with increased prevalence of other chronic conditions and reduced access to health care and preventive care services, finds a new study in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People series established goals to reduce disparities among people with disabilities, but there has been very little progress toward reaching these goals, says lead author Catherine Okoro, Ph.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.

“It’s important to find out why there has been so little progress, since the prevention, detection, and treatment of secondary illnesses is critical for health maintenance, halting progression of disability, and helping people with disabilities to participate in life activities,” she says.

Full story of health disparities with disabilities at Science Daily