Press Release June 2, 2020

Residents in DDS facilities test positive for COVID-19 at a higher rate than general population

Residents with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in group homes have tested positive for COVID-19 at a higher rate than the general population in Massachusetts since the end of April, according to an analysis by COFAR.

The numbers appear to underscore the importance of testing all staff and maintaining safe conditions in the homes, particularly as the administration begins to loosen lockdown restrictions in coming weeks.

COFAR analyzed cumulative testing data provided by both the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and the Department of Public Health (DPH). DDS tracks testing data for residents and staff in its residential facilities, and DPH tracks and publishes testing data for the general population on a daily basis.

COFAR found that on a cumulative basis, the COVID-19 positive rate of DDS residents was 18.4% between April 23 and May 26, while the positive rate in the general population was 12.5% during that same period. That’s a 47% higher positive rate for DDS residents.

The number of deaths in DDS group homes has been lower on a percentage basis than in nursing homes, but that death toll is continuing to rise. As of May 28, there have been 87 deaths in the DDS system, up from 78 deaths ten days earlier.

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.