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2018: Quality of Life Survey Creates a Baseline for Future Measurement of Olmstead Plan Goals

State of Minnesota Olmstead Plan – Quality of Life Survey Baseline Report

"A comprehensive and longitudinal study of the quality of life of a sample of Minnesotans with disabilities"

In March 2018, a ground-breaking survey report gave quantifiable measurements to the quality of life of 2,005 people with disabilities in Minnesota. The respondents were of all different ages, had differing kinds of disabilities, and were all authorized to receive government-paid services in some potentially segregated settings.

Each person was interviewed in a way he or she chose, with or without assistive technology or personal care aides, as necessary, and asked about his or her perceptions and opinions about the many things that affect a person's quality of life.

The study is longitudinal, which means that it will be repeated over three years with a random sample of the same population of 2,005 respondents. This approach provides a reliable way to track and measure whether Minnesota is meeting the objectives of its Olmstead Plan.

  • Minnesota's Olmstead Plan documents the specific steps the state is taking to achieve its broad goal of providing services to people with disabilities in the most integrated and community-based setting possible.
  • The goal includes not just integration of people with disabilities in employment, housing, transportation, supports and services, but full inclusion in lifelong learning and education, healthcare and healthy living, and community engagement.

Big plans require a method of measurement that lets state policy makers know whether they are taking steps in the right direction, making positive movement over time, and that is why this repeatable Center for Outcome Analysis, or "COA" survey report is so important and worthy of so much time. Each one of the two thousand interviews took 45-minutes-to-an-hour to complete, and required most of 2017 to gather and report.

Follow-up surveys are scheduled to begin in late 2018 and will occur over the next three years. The differences in their scores as compared to those in this baseline report will provide invaluable information about whether and how increased community integration and self-determination are occurring for people with disabilities receiving services in selected settings.

Results of the survey provided baseline scores on broad topics such as decision-making, earnings, outings, integration, and relationships – just some of the many aspects that make up a person's quality of life.

  • Decision-making scored 66.2 out of 100, which indicates that people with disabilities experience dependence on others to make decisions. Participants reported having the least amount of decision-making power when it came to where they lived, who supported them (staff), and how they spent their money.
  • Quality of life baseline scores were 76.6 out of 100. Individuals reported their quality of life in 14 different areas, including relationships, health, ability to make choices, getting out and around, treatment by staff or attendants, privacy, etc.  Also relevant to this category is the use of assistive technology, with questions included about how or whether people use it to improve the quality of their lives.
  • The number of outings averaged 32 per month, which is lower than the general population's average of 46. Outings interactions were scored on a scale of 1-100, with Minnesota averaging 45.5.
    • This score shows that people with disabilities are not interacting much with other community members during their outings.
  • Integration was scored on a scale of 1-5, and tells us how much interaction participants have during their daily activities with people who do not have disabilities.
    • An integration score of 3 indicates a balance between segregated and integrated, with Minnesota scoring a 2.1.
  • Closeness of relationships is one area in which Minnesota participants are on par with the rest of the nation. Relatives were the most commonly reported close relationship type, but Minnesotan participants reported a higher number of close relationships with people who are not relatives than did those in other states (22% vs. 15% or less).
    • Only 0.4% of respondents could not name at least one close relationship.

All of the concepts ranked here are related to the underlying human concept of self-determination and freedom to make choices without being controlled by others. The importance of this Baseline Survey Report cannot be overstated, and yet its findings strongly suggest that Minnesota must take critical steps to reduce segregation, to improve access to community services for people with disabilities, and to comply with the Olmstead Plan.

For additional information and insight, see the article published in the STAR TRIBUNE, by Chris Serres, March 28, 2018.