Ryan's Reach has recognized there is a big oversight for the TBI community. There is very little in the way of group home living for our TBI loved ones. What happens most often is the loved one is placed in a home for the elderly. They often are far from being elderly themselves and the needs of the elderly are significantly different. The placement usually doesn't turn out well and the survivor's family is often asked to make other arrangements. We have witnessed this dilemma for many years.
Ryan's Reach took on a mission. Our charity decided to open a home to provide care exclusively for brain injury survivors. After a long and arduous process, almost two years, we have opened a home – Ryan’s Reach R&R – “R&R” standing for “Residence & Respite.” We have 4 full-time residents. Having 6 beds, the remaining two beds are available giving family members a short time to "come up for air". Caregivers for TBI survivors often need a break, to take a vacation or sometimes take care of their own health, which often breaks down due to constant demands of caring for their loved one.
CHALLENGE: It is very costly to provide care on a full-time basis. Our home is occupied under a long-term lease. We have at least two caregivers on duty 24/7. The cost of insurance, especially workers compensation, is extremely high. Add to this the cost of food, supplies, transportation, etc. and one can easily see this is not a “money-making business.”
Few survivors, or families, have the financial means to pay for full time residential care, which starts at $7,000 per month. Most persons only have SSI/SSP financial assistance from Medicaid. This is usually only $1034 per month.
Recently we discovered that California’s Medi-Cal has a special program to provide financial assistance to persons on SSI/SSP, such that they might receive additional financial assistance toward room & board in assisted living environments. This is known as the “Assisted Living Waiver program (ALW).
Ryan's Reach can direct a family to the source of this waiver and assist when necessary to get their application in. Once they have applied, a state approved Care Coordinator will come out and evaluate the needs of the TBI survivor. Depending on their evaluated need, Medi-Cal may provide financial assistance from $35 up to $200 per day.
Ryan's Reach has now been recognized as a “Provider Home.” This means we are eligible to care for ALW qualified individuals. This will go a long way toward providing the funds needed to cover expenses – but it is definitely not enough. We will still depend largely on charitable donations to reach our goals.
BY VIRGINIA RAYNE
On November 14th, 2015, my 38 year old son Dan, who was living in Portland Oregon, suffered a severe traumatic brain injury after a fall while walking home from a Target store in the evening hours. He did not see an obstruction on the sidewalk, and fell 10 feet down an embankment onto the freeway exit below, where he hit his head on a curb. I did not know until the following morning when I listened to my phone messages that he was clinging to life at Oregon Health and Sciences University Hospital, and immediately booked a flight from California with my daughter and my fiancé, to be by his side.
During that anxious flight, I reminisced about my only son, who aptly would describe himself as a “complicated” guy. Learning disabilities at an early age led to depression as a teen; but to his many friends, with the exception of those closest to him, he was known only as a popular, happy-go-lucky guy. A true movie buff, I was excited when he entered LA Film School, majoring in editing, and thought this medium would be a perfect outlet for my “complicated” son to express himself in creative ways.
Dan spent 10 days in ICU and a total of 21 days in the hospital before being transferred to a skilled nursing facility in nearby Tigard, Oregon. He was left unable to walk, talk, or swallow. After three months he began to swallow once again, to our elation. Unfortunately, because of the trauma of his cranial reconstruction surgery in April, 2016, he regressed and could no longer swallow.
We faced enormous challenges when we were finally cleared to bring Dan “home” to California in May of 2016, attempting to secure the care he so desperately needed to be rehabilitated. Many months went by as we tried to maneuver a system that seemed to be full of road blocks at every turn. Through the State funded Assisted Living Waiver Program, for which we applied, we learned that Ryan’s Reach was opening a residential home strictly for those with brain injuries. Dan was already going to High Hopes for rehabilitation and I was aware of this charitable organization that helped so many by providing scholarships. Up to that point, we did not have many options, other than facilities for senior citizens, and even those did not want the burden of a younger man with many years of recovery ahead.
It was not until Dan was welcomed at Ryan’s Reach Residence and Respite home in Tustin on December 19th, 2016, that he started to make significant improvements. Merely two months later, he was off his feeding tube for nutrition and eating pureed food! The loving and caring environment has encouraged him in many other ways as well. Gone is his defeated attitude, which has been replaced with one of hopefulness and laughter. He is more engaged in his physical and speech therapy, is gaining strength and has spoken his first few words. We now look forward to a future of continued recovery and are thankful beyond measure. I can now envision a great future ahead of him. Perhaps an inspirational film?