TURNERS FALLS – Before the United Arc was asked to abandon its contracts, it was plagued by a lack of oversight in individual health management, staff training, and internal affairs, according to a State Department report obtained from Greenfield Recorder of Developmental Services Provider.
In July, the Department of Developmental Services ordered the handover of The United Arc’s flat-share agreements with a notice of September 20. ServiceNet takes over the contracts.
The United Arc Individual Home Supports program contract can also be withdrawn, but the Department of Developmental Services will conduct another review as of the deadline before deciding whether the organization can keep the contract. The handover order came after the Bureau of Quality Improvement’s report on July 8 said the organization only met 51% of the licensing indicators, missing five critical indicators.
United Arc’s board of directors also voted to remove Lynne Bielecki as Executive Director.
Bielecki could not be reached for comment.
Bruce Biagi, president of the board of directors of The United Arc, said in an email that the nonprofit was working to implement its “correction plan” to maintain its Individual Home Supports program, but did not answer any questions about the various defects by the condition.
“I don’t have much to say,” wrote Biagi in an email. “The results of this assessment will determine whether or not The United Arc can apply for a new license.”
The United Arc, founded in 1951 by Rita Marguerite Canedy and founded in 1960, serves customers in Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden and Worcester through offices in Greenfield, Turners Falls, Holyoke and Athol.
According to the organization’s website, Canedy had two sons with developmental disabilities and the only option at the time was to institutionalize them. Canedy wrote a letter to the Greenfield Recorder and found she wasn’t the only one in the situation, which led to the creation of The United Arc as a community-based support group.
The recorder filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) application with the State Department of Developmental Services to request performance evaluation from The United Arc.
The report found that The United Arc failed to manage the medical condition of individuals, maintain records, and document appropriate follow-up appointments, when those appointments were scheduled at all.
In one example, on May 4, a person was screened for a yeast infection and their family doctor prescribed medication. After the appointment, “there was no indication that the order was ever fulfilled or the drug was ever administered, and no follow-up was identified or taken,” the report said. This was one of several people whose follow-up appointments were not documented, if the appointments took place at all.
The report found that staff failed to develop management protocols for multiple people with conditions like type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, or other dietary restrictions.
A person diagnosed with a blackened condition had no protocols to “guide staff in treating this medical condition, including emergency response if necessary”. The person who also has sleep apnea had a broken CPAP machine and there was “no written protocol for his latex allergy and emergency administration of an EpiPen”.
Another person confined to a wheelchair did not have an accessible hob, sink, and countertops for basic routines and activities, according to the report.
Several people were overdue for physical or dental exams, with several having none within 15 months.
While the homes of individuals The United Arc served were found to be “in good condition”, it was found that the organization’s staff were not trained to care for and care for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The staff is also not “trained on signs and symptoms of illness”.
“Seven people were not trained in staff, including support staff,” the report said, “in relation to the unique support needs of individuals, including training in autism, fragile X syndrome, celiac disease and spina bifida. among other things.”
Staff were not trained in the “unique support needs” of edited medical conditions for multiple people, the report said. They have also been found to provide inadequate support in assisting individuals in “areas of intimacy, sexuality and companionship”.
In addition, the organization “did not track the status of the necessary training for staff and nursing staff”.
Also, according to the report, employees were not following the correct protocol for dealing with individuals with behavioral problems.
One form used to track a resident’s good behavior included a field to note whether she “acted like an adult between 6pm and 9pm,” which the report said “does not promote respect and dignity” . Another person’s backpack was regularly searched without his consent, and the searches were not described in a written map that was reviewed by the Human Rights Committee.
Questions of personnel qualification also went beyond the training. The report said that when hiring new staff, The United Arc “took no steps to ensure candidates met the minimum requirements for the position”.
The report also found that internal processes and forms were not properly handled within The United Arc.
The United Arc Human Rights Committee, which was a joint committee with LifePath Inc., has lacked “regular attendance of legal and medical representatives” for the past two years and has failed to meet its responsibility for reviewing complaints and investigations, it said the report.
The organization has failed to collect information on “the quality of services across service types and across areas of support to individuals”.
Several people did not have a signed rental agreement; some financial records did not include dealer receipts.
Long-term and strategic plans were also ignored, according to the report.
“United Arc’s three-year strategic plan closed on June 30, 2020 and the agency has shown no progress in meeting its strategic objectives,” the report said. “The progress was not documented and the overall performance and success of the strategic plan could not be determined.”
While the organization is giving up its shared apartment contracts, it will continue its family and youth services.
The public report, missing the specific details and incidents above, can be viewed on the Department of Developmental Services website at bit.ly/2XlnoQt.
Chris Larabee can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4081.