We Got You Covered!
We need your help to ensure that every Marylander with a developmental disability, the workforce who provides support to people with disabilities, and family members of people with disabilities have face masks.
The situation: In Maryland, there are more than 17,000 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who receive direct services and supports from disability organizations. Many of these services are provided in small congregate homes (also known as group homes). A group home is not like a nursing home. It is typically a single family house, apartment or condo in communities across the state. There are also over a thousand adults who self-direct their own services and receive those services in their own homes or the home of a relative. The workforce that provides care and support in these settings, are skilled and compassionate people. Due to historically low medicaid rates, these professionals earn $12.00 to $15 per hour on average. It is estimated that there are approximately 25,000 Direct Support Professionals working during this pandemic in Maryland right now.
Nationwide, there has been a severe shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The lack of available protection makes going to the grocery store and conducting other essential errands difficult for all of us, but the situation is much more critical for providers of developmental disabilities services and for people with disabilities who live in congregate settings (such as group homes).
The care that DSPs provide is intimate. Most DSPs are certified medical technicians. They provide personal care, and prepare meals, often helping people physically to eat. They possess behavioral support skills and employ respect and empathy to help people stay safe and calm.
In mid-March, Governor Hogan issued a directive to close adult day programs throughout the state. These closures have impacted many people with developmental disabilities. The change in routine has left people isolated, scared, and bored. There is little to no adherence to the 6-foot rule due to the space available in group homes and the level of understanding of the importance of social distancing. People are at serious risk of contracting/spreading COVID19.
Direct Support Professionals provide essential services and yet they can’t obtain PPE from our health department. Disability organizations have very limited access to items like masks, shields, gowns and even gloves due to prioritization of these supplies for hospitals and nursing homes.
There are volunteer grassroots efforts around the state who are making alternatives to personal protective equipment for hospitals, first-responders and nursing homes to include DIY face shields, masks and gowns. While these facilities absolutely need this protective gear, so does our community of people with I/DD, their Direct Support Professionals, and family caregivers.
To provide SOME protection to DSPs, members of the Developmental Disability Coalition are banding together on a mission to ensure that every person with I/DD, every Direct Support Professional, and every family member-caregiver who needs a cloth mask will have it.
Please join our team effort. Marylanders are resilient, supportive, and we care about one another. We can do this!
Sign up through the hot buttons to request face masks, donate face masks, or donate to our effort (all funds received through our "GoFundMe" link will go toward the purchase of masks and materials.)