By Daymond Steer
EFFINGHAM – Lakeview NeuroRehabilitation Center says it will create a "family advisory council" designed to enhance communication, strengthen relationships and encourage collaboration between the center and its residents' families.
Forming the council was one of the recommendations from an investigator who was reviewing the facility for the governor.
Lakeview is an 88-bed residential facility in Effingham that cares for individuals with physical, neurological, cognitive and behavioral impairments.
It has a main house and smaller units called cabins on its campus. It also operates a school that serves students with special needs in grades one through 12, from ages 8 to 21. The state sent a notice that the school should be shut down, but Lakeview is appealing.
Lakeview plans to begin recruiting council members and expects to hold a meeting early next month, according to a statement from MBS Value Partners, a Madison Avenue PR firm. The number of participants has not been determined. The council will include parents and guardians of students at Lakeview's school.
Executive Director Patricia Reed, who was named hired last month, said: "We are committed to significant change at Lakeview, and the Lakeview Family Advisory Council is an important step in that direction, giving our family members and guardians a prominent voice in our change process.
"The council will provide our new Lakeview leadership team with critical input from family members, allowing us to understand their needs, concerns and insights directly and in a timely manner," Reed said.
Members of the Lakeview Family Advisory Council ultimately will determine their own meeting format, content and frequency. Lakeview anticipates the council will gather remotely on a monthly basis and in person twice a year.
The council's responsibilities will include providing family input into center policy and new program and facilities development; promoting improved relationships between residents, families and Lakeview staff members; and actively helping to implement change.
At the end of last year, Gov. Maggie Hassan commissioned a series of reviews on Lakeview after the New Hampshire Disabilities Rights Center released a report about the 2012 death of a patient.
One of those reviews, by Kathryn du Pree of Crosswinds Consulting, dealt with Lakeview's capacity for change. She wrote that if Lakeview is to remain open, it should create a family advisory committee as well as examine patient and family satisfaction and act on the recommendations they provide.
In mid-April, Hassan decided all of du Pree's recommendations would be mandatory.
"The state will direct Lakeview to create an advisory group that includes residents and family or guardians of patients to ensure input from those who Lakeview serves," a statement from Hassan's office said last month.
According to du Pree's report, family and guardians had concerns relating to "health and safety, abuse and neglect, medical neglect and community experience."
One family told du Pree that Lakeview is a "spiderweb of issues."
A group of family and guardians told du Pree they felt that the direct care staff was "poorly trained." Some wondered if interns were doing the work of qualified behaviorists without enough supervision, the report said.
Families also complained about "extremely filthy conditions in bedrooms and bathrooms."
As for Lakeview's communication skills, the families felt they were "inconsistent or lacking."
Lakeview's case management skills are "extremely poor," according to some parents who du Pree interviewed. In one instance, a handicapped individual was given a prescription for a "special boot" but it took Lakeview 12 to 18 months to complete all the appointments necessary for the boot to be dispensed.
"The terrible result of this neglectful occurrence is that the person was ambulatory prior to the injury and now has very limited mobility," wrote du Pree.
There were some positive stories. For example, one family said their 18-year-old son has benefited from his 2 1/2 years at Lakeview.
"He attends school regularly, has become a reader and is offered online courses," stated the report. "They feel he is safe and wish they had discovered LNC earlier."
Another family with a son at Lakeview said their experience was "pretty good."
Parents felt that some Lakeview staff were "rude" or "dismissive," the report said. But it also contained high praise for certain staff members.
For instance, some parents said the director of residential services, Dave Armstrong, made himself available and followed thorough on promises to provide information. They also described "Nurse Kate" as "an exceptional caregiver."