Collaboration Between Regional Center and OCRA Protects Consumer From Hasty Group Home Transfer to Avoid Trauma


Tomas is 61 years old and has profound intellectual disability. He does not speak, but communicates through his behavior. Tomas does not have any family or friends involved in his life and does not have a conservator appointed by the court. Tomas had lived in a developmental center for more than 55 years, since he was five years old. His transfer to a less restrictive community group home setting was well-planned with considerable cross-training between the developmental center staff and the group home to ensure staff understood Tomas’s behavior and could provide appropriate services. Ultimately, his move to a group home in the community was successful and he lived there for more than four years. Tomas becomes self-injurious when there are changes to his routine and his environment. OCRA was called to participate in Tomas’s IPP meeting because of concerns about a plan to transfer him to a new group home. Since Tomas is not able to verbalize his decisions regarding his care, his service providers worried that moving to a new group home would not be in his best interest and would not be a change that he would want.

After interviewing several of Tomas’s service providers, OCRA determined that his rights might be in jeopardy and intervened. Working collaboratively with IPP team members, OCRA advocated that Tomas not to be transferred until a behaviorist developed a thorough transition exploration plan. The IPP team decided that the transition should be put on hold to allow for multiple visits to the proposed group home, close observation and gathering of behavior data, and analysis of the behavior data by the entire IPP team. The team would then decide if the transfer was in Tomas’s best interest. All staff who would work with Tomas needed to be very knowledgeable of what his behavior communicates about his feelings. A month of cross-training and visits to the proposed group home will take place before the IPP team will reconvene and decide if the transfer to a new group home is appropriate or not. Careful planning on the part of the IPP team has helped to prevent a hasty move for Tomas.