Our push for mandatory COVID-19 testing

(From our May 18, 2020 blog post)

While testing of staff for COVID-19 remains voluntary in group homes funded by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), state guidelines appear to require testing of staff in small facilities in which at least some individuals are symptomatic.

Meanwhile, a state senator, who filed a bill (S.2657) to make testing of staff mandatory in nursing homes, is reportedly supporting mandatory staff testing in the DDS system as well. A legislative aide to Senator Jamie Eldridge said Eldridge supports amending his bill to make testing mandatory for DDS group home staff.

Eldridge’s legislative aide said he notified the Legislature’s Public Health Committee of the senator’s support for that change. Eldridge’s bill is currently in the committee.

While DDS started a mobile program more than a month ago to offer tests to every resident and staff member in its residential system, DDS has stated that the tests are voluntary for staff. In addition, DDS has no current plans to undertake periodic re-testing of either residents or staff.

We have repeatedly raised the concern that staff are potentially the main source of introduction of the virus to group homes, in which residents have been locked down from nearly all visitation since mid-March.

Read more on our Coronavirus Information Page.

We are a statewide nonprofit organization established in 1983 that advocates on behalf persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities, and on behalf of their families and guardians. 

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The January 2020 COFAR Voice  

Our January 2020 issue of The COFAR Voice newsletter is now online, with stories about:

  • Our analysis last year of more than 14,000 abuse complaints in the DDS system, which shows that state-run residential facilities are safer than provider-run group homes,
  • The unusual decision by DDS to terminate the contract of a provider to operate two group homes in the wake of allegations of neglect and poor care in at least one of the residences,
  • Our meeting with a key state lawmaker in which we urged support for voluntary work activities in DDS day programs,
  • Our push for more transparency in the abuse investigation process in Massachusetts, and our finding that the process is frustratingly circuitous,

and much more.

You can find the new newsletter here and on our newsletters page.  

Our Advocacy Guide

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the complexities of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) system in Massachusetts, or if you simply want more information about matters relating to the care of your loved ones in the system, we hope our Advocacy Guide can help. In it, you will find both tips and advice on care and services, eligibility issues, Individual Support Plans, guardianship, and other issues.

COFAR constructed this guide as part of our mission of providing advocacy information and advice to families and guardians of those with intellectual and other developmental disabilities, wherever they may live.

As of March 2016, we have updated the Guide to reflect changes in DDS regulations, and have added new information on issues ranging from guardianship to getting SSI and Medicaid benefits.

You can access the updated Guide by  clicking here.  We welcome your feedback!            

COFAR is affiliated with The Wrentham Association, and nationally with VOR.