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Policy Change May Send More Disabled People to State Hospitals

Posted February 4, 2008

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— Bill Hancock and his son, Wayne, have been practically inseparable since the day he was born.

"He's 80 percent brain dead from birth," Hancock said."The blood vessel from his heart to his lung didn't open up like it was supposed to."

As a result, Wayne is prone to violent seizures and requires 24-hour care. Deemed qualified by the state, Hancock cares for his son at their Bailey home, and the state pays him to do it.

"It would take my life away from me to tell me I can't care for him," Hancock said.

Hancock said he fears that is likely to happen soon due to a new state policy called Implementation 35.

"To not be able to see my son everyday, I'd die. It would kill me," he said.

Effective Feb. 22, the state will limit the number of hours parents, like Hancock, are paid to care for a disabled loved one.

Hancock is currently paid for 105 hours a week. Under the new policy, he will be paid for 50 hours. Provider agencies will pay someone who lives outside the home to cover the remaining hours. The idea is to give family members a break so they do not burn out.

"We think that it's very appropriate to have another provider come in and relieve the family member," said Michael Moseley, director of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services.

Hancock said Wayne has not yet been assigned a nurse. With the shortage of nurses statewide, Hancock is concerned he might not get one.

The state is at the beginning of a nursing shortage that will continue to grow over the next 14 years, according to the North Carolina Center for Nursing.

With his pay cut by more than half, Hancock said, he can no longer care for Wayne at home. Hancock may have to put him in a state hospital.

"I'm being forced to hand him over to the state," he said.

"Well, that doesn't make much sense to me," said Sen. Larry Shaw, D-Cumberland. "I think we're doing the wrong things for all the wrong reasons."

Shaw opposed Implementation 35. He said he is considering whether to introduce a bill during the next legislative session to stop Implementation 35.

"It doesn't sound like the humane thing to do," he said.

The session starts in three months, however, and the policy takes effect in less than three weeks.

Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, chairs the Legislative Oversight Committee for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. She is also concerned about the availability of nurses to care for the disabled in rural areas.

"We have parts of the state where we just don't have providers," she said. "They just aren't there."

Insko said she believes decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis.

"I'm confident that if families will work with the system, then, I think, certainly the system will work with the families to make sure those arrangements are made," Moseley said.

For Hancock, he prefers to care for his son himself. After 25 years of doing so, he is not ready to be separated.

"I can't give it up," he said. "I can't let nobody else take my baby."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • b-man Feb 5, 2008

    Before anyone jumps on my typing sorry for the extra get in my last post.

  • b-man Feb 5, 2008

    Welfare moms and dads get money for raising their children! Have more,get a get a bigger check. Try to do the right thing and get the money taken away. I just dont understand why the state would even consider doing such a horrible thing to such a great dad.

  • cyauch Feb 5, 2008

    I have never seen a more compassionate and committed man and father. Shame on anyone who has said anything negative about what he is doing. I have a brother with cerebral palsy, so I have grown up seeing first hand just how much work is involved with taking care of someone with disabilities! This man is unselfishly sacrificing a lot of personal freedom that the majority of us take for granted. I could never fathom my brother being put in a state run facility, no matter what. I decided long ago that when my mom gets to the point where she is unable to care for him any longer, he will move in with me and I will be his caregiver. Not a bunch of strange faces in and out with clipboards all day. I am not bad-mouthing nurses, they are very hard working at their jobs, but it is a "job". If someone has the will and the means to keep their child at home and care for them in a loving environment rather than a hospital like setting, then by god, let them. To the Dad: Please keep fighting!!!

  • gandalf1 Feb 5, 2008

    “I work at a mental institution and I see the problems with patient care everyday. They are neglected and abused.” Iamforjustice

    And you have done exactly what to combat these problems? If you are so concerned for the patients then why haven’t you done anything to change the neglect and abuse? Perhaps you are the one who is neglecting and abusing them and that is why you have done nothing to rectify that situation.

  • dukebbfan Feb 5, 2008

    Iquana- Even if they cut the hours that they pay the father then they will still have to pay a nurse,if they can find one, to come in and take care of Wayne and nurses are not cheap and it seems that it would be cheaper to keep paying the father than a nurse or the government to put him in a home where he will not get the love and attention that he needs. It says that his son has 80% brain damage so if his son was being abused at a home or by someone he would never be able to tell anyone and we all know that this does happen. This happens to be a father who loves his son and wants to take care of him instead of putting him somewhere else where alot of handicapp people end up. I would much rather the goverment pay him than to pay adults who keep having kids and they sit on there hind end at home and dont even try to work . If they need to find more money for this type of situation then take it away from the no good adults who keep having kids so they can get the welfare checks.

  • North Wake Dad Feb 5, 2008

    "... The last I checked, my parents did not get a 'salary' or other special handouts just for raising me. No one else I know gets paid to raise their children."

    There is a vast difference between parenting and providing skilled or semi-skilled nursing care. Remember, the dad had to meet the state's basic caregiving qualifications (all this is viewable on the state's website) in order to qualify for this money in the first place.

  • ncforensics Feb 5, 2008

    I live in SE NC and my brother-in-law who is 40 yrs old is in a very similar mental and physical condition as Wayne. His mother cares for him and he does have a nursing assistant that is scheduled for 35 hours per week. He could not get approved for any care until she got sick and had to have surgery. The government pays a private provider $15 per hour to send a nursing assistant who is paid about $10 per hour to care for him. If I remember correctly from an earlier article about this case, he was only paid $6 or $7 per hour. Doesn't it make since to pay the father half of what they would pay an outside agency? The father will give superior care for half the cost.

    It is extremely difficult to find reliable help even in a large area like we live in. They can't keep someone here reliably for 35 daytime hours. How will they find enough help for all of the extra hours. There are very few home providers who are willing to work with total care patients.

  • -Enter Screen Name- Feb 5, 2008

    To others beating down on Iquana...I do, at least in part, see where s(he) is coming from, though they may have not been the most tactful.

    I think the question being posed is why is anyone being paid to do (i.e., being a parent) what most others aren't getting paid to do? The last I checked, my parents did not get a 'salary' or other special handouts just for raising me. No one else I know gets paid to raise their children.

    And even if you do subscribe to the idea of a welfare state, why should someone get paid over and above a normal 40 hours work week? Sure, raising a child is a 24/7 job. However, even those with non-disabled children don't get a salary for the hours the child is not in school. Even non-disabled children get sick in the middle of the night. How do I submit timecards to the state for payment for those hours?

  • iamforjustice Feb 5, 2008

    The one thing that you all miss the point is that the father really does not sleep. You can't have an all night deep sleep because you have to listen out for the child. That in itself shows that you are still working while lying down. You are never fully rested. The man needs some help. There is nothing wrong with the state helping out someone that needs help. It is cheaper to keep the child there than a mental institution. I applaud the father and you should all too. I work at a mental institution and I see the problems with patient care everyday. They are neglected and abused. Again, I applaud the father. Where is the mother?

  • Iquana Feb 5, 2008

    But where did you get 400 a month from? The report said 105 a week? Either way you are right it is less than 15 hours a day, but that really isnt the point is it. If your attorney billed you 105 hours for a weeks work you would flinch.