#AdvocacyMatters: Advocacy Through Research

August 7, 2020 / #AdvocacyMatters

advocacy matters - Disability Rights Ohio

A deeper understanding of any problem creates better solutions. We’re proud to have just announced the results of a three-year study we completed with our partners at the Ohio Brain Injury Program on people with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) living in Ohio nursing facilities. Through our research and interviews with 38 patients with TBI across Ohio, we were able to identify serious issues surrounding the identification and treatment of these injuries.

Concerningly, we discovered discrepancies in the way facilities identify and report TBI. Many Ohio nursing facilities contacted by DRO reported that they did not have any residents with TBI, even though data reported to the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services suggests that there are many people with TBI living in Ohio nursing facilities. Most nursing facility direct care staff did not know the definition of TBI or how dementia or stroke were different from TBI. Many of the direct care staff were unable to identify residents with TBI in their facility.

Treatment methods were very limited for people with TBI. Most of the people we interviewed have multiple mental health diagnoses and are prescribed medications for the conditions. However, only two of the 38 people interviewed receive specialized services for TBI or therapy for mental health issues.

The most overwhelming takeaway was that almost everybody we interviewed expressed dissatisfaction with living in a nursing facility and wanted to move home or into the community. Yet most persons interviewed, their family members, and nursing facility staff report that Home and Community Based Services were never discussed as an option for moving into the community.

Armed with this research, we’re calling for better education and communication about Home and Community Based Services for individuals, their families, and nursing facility staff. We also believe that the prescription of multiple psychotropic drugs to individual with TBI in nursing facilities merits review. Perhaps most importantly, we’re advocating for a broader discussion and deeper understanding of what life is like for Ohioans with Traumatic Brain Injuries. These issues might not have been fully uncovered without this research, and that’s the point. Even when you have to dig for it, #AdvocacyMatters.

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