National SILVER Coalition Emergency Relocation Toolkit
APRIL is very proud to distribute the Emergency Relocation Toolkit produced by the National SILVER (Save Institutional Lives Via Emergency Relocations) Coalition. This is a culmination of lots of hard work and nearly two years of thoughtful, engaging discussions. APRIL was instrumental in this process. Elissa Ellis, Director of Operations, is one of the founding members who brought SILVER to life along with many other amazing advocates who have been meeting each Friday since shortly after the Pandemic began. This amazing group of people have presented this information at several venues such as: APRIL Webinars; APRIL Virtual Conference, NCD, etc. to a diverse audience in the IL Community as well as our partners at ACL, FEMA and other Federal, State and Local Stakeholders. Many of these resources and archived recordings are available on the APRIL Website Advocacy Tab under Nursing Home Transition.
The Emergency Relocation Toolkit provides a wealth of information and step by step guide on how Centers for Independent Living and other Community-Based Organizations can access emergency services funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the federally declared COVID disaster. The toolkit is provided by the National SILVER (Save Institutional Lives Via Emergency Relocations) Coalition.
As many of you may know, since the start of the pandemic, emergency responses supported relocations for the incarcerated and the homeless populations, but institutional biases that continue to impact the disability community have not offered these options for people under long-term care and in congregate settings. This toolkit has been in the making for more than two years, realized through the tireless contributions and volunteer efforts of diverse organizations and individuals including APRIL, grassroots activists, formerly institutionalized people, Centers for Independent Living directors, data specialists, a former FEMA officer, a filmmaker, and a legendary photographer, just to name a few!
Some things to keep in mind as you delve into this Toolkit:
First, the crisis is far from over. The COVID infection and death rates of institutionalized people remain appalling and avoidable, and mitigation successes in the greater community far exceed those in congregate care settings. Residents of nursing facilities are still falling victim to industrial-style care, in which the one-to-many staff to resident ratio virtually ensures inordinate spread of infection. Government subsidies to these facilities, promoting shelter-in-place efforts, have done more to pad their profits than to make them safe, hospitable environments. As long as there is a pandemic, emergency relocations should be an essential tool for CILs and other community-based organizations to safeguard the rights, dignity and well-being of our institutionalized siblings.
Second, the propagation and inevitable tragedies of institutional care will continue for as long as even one weak link exists along the chain to independent living. A review of how institutionalization thrives under such clearly devastating conditions reveals numerous systemic failings in community-based alternatives. We’ve known managed care organizations to practice low-balling community support hours, a tactic that dangerously delays transitions from high-risk institutions. We’ve seen residents frustrated with understaffed transition agencies whose assistance periodically evaporates during the months and years that people languish on waiting lists. Systems that connect home support workers with potential clients confound consumers with their complexity and opacity. Data specialists have pointed out that the Minimum Data Set and performance progress reports lack standardized, usable data to practicably assist residents along the road to self-determination. There is still much work to be done.
Finally, there are people behind the numbers. I think we all understand that the actual numbers of our siblings with disabilities who have been infected and/or lost their lives due to COVID are likely underestimated, at best. While the COVID crisis remains daunting for institutionalized people and those working to support their transitions to community settings, each success is a life-changing victory for one and a beacon of hope for many.