Home > Uncategorized > DDS client, who had been denied all contact with his mother, suffers third head injury in group home

DDS client, who had been denied all contact with his mother, suffers third head injury in group home

Nick Alemesis, who has a developmental disability, was sent to a hospital on Friday from his Dracut group home with the third head injury he has suffered in the residence since March, his mother Cindy said.

The latest injury occurred just before Cindy was due to visit Nick at the end of a 14-day ban imposed on her contact with him.

Incompass, the corporate provider that runs the group home, had charged that Cindy’s previous phone contact and visits with Nick were causing him to act aggressively and injure himself.

COFAR last week raised concerns about the ban, contending that neither Incompass nor the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) had made a sufficient case for restricting family contact with Nick.

We noted that this case appears similar to at least two others in which providers and DDS blamed family members for inciting aggressive behavior in DDS clients, and subsequently imposed punitive bans on family contact with those persons.

The 14-day ban on all family and social contact with Nick had been at least temporarily lifted at the end of last week. But Cindy was unable to visit Nick in the residence on Saturday, as had been agreed, because Nick had been taken to Lowell General Hospital. She said she was leaving this morning to visit Nick in the hospital.

DDS is, meanwhile, continuing an effort in probate court to remove Cindy as her son’s co-guardian for reasons that have never been made clear. In 2018, Cindy saved Nick’s life after staff in the group home had failed to take him to a scheduled ultrasound appointment, which would have shown his brain shunt was leaking spinal fluid.

In a text message to Cindy, dated Saturday, the Incompass assistant program manager wrote that Nick had been sent to the emergency room at Lowell General for self-injurious behavior and threatening to kill himself. Cindy maintains that Nick has frequently said he would kill himself if he was forced to remain in the group home. She said Nick is afraid to be in the residence.

Cindy is one of two co-guardians of Nick. The other co-guardian, Donna Nolan, is paid by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to serve in that role. Nolan is not related to Nick.

Nolan, along with Jean Phelps, the CEO of Incompass, signed off on a provider document on August 17 that imposed the 14-day ban on all family and social contact with Nick.

COFAR has joined Cindy in urging DDS not to send Nick back to the Dracut group home. Cindy said she is concerned Nick has been abused in the residence.

We suggested last week that Nick be placed at the Hogan Regional Center where we think staff are better trained to care for clients who exhibit aggressive behaviors.

Even if Nick’s injuries have been self-inflicted in the group home, it appears to be clear that Cindy’s contact with Nick is not the primary cause of his aggressive behaviors.

Neither DDS Commissioner Jane Ryder nor Jean Phelps, the Incompass CEO, have responded to an August 25 email from COFAR raising concerns about the ban on contact.

Cindy said Nick was previously injured in the group home on March 16, and was injured again two to three weeks ago. Cindy reported that March 16 head injury to the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) because the injury had not been reported by the staff.

DDS, which conducted a limited Administrative Review of the March incident, concluded that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to show that Nick’s injury was caused by staff of the group home, and that the injury had most likely been self-inflicted.

  1. Gloria
    September 6, 2022 at 10:11 am

    Do not give up trying to help your son, you have the right people who will help. They helped me several years ago with my daughter and she is in a good Group Home and has made friends there. She still gets frustrated and sometimes self-injurious but doing better. She is also very smart and has a great memory. Will pray for you both.

    Like

    • Gloria
      September 6, 2022 at 1:59 pm

      After reading my post, when I said “you have the right people who will help you, I was referring to COFAR and those that are part of COFAR

      Like

    • Gloria
      September 6, 2022 at 2:07 pm

      I am referring to COFAR when I wrote “you have the right people who will help”

      Like

  2. Ann S
    September 6, 2022 at 10:23 am

    Horrible story. The pain this family is going through being denied visits is hard to fathom. Families should have 100% rights and involvement in all decision making. This is outrageous. Even if the visits triggered aggression, that is the nature of autism. The treatment team needs to look at meds and behavior mod techniques, not removing the family from their child’s life. He is likely acting out because he is upset that they are leaving. Thank you for reporting about this and following up on its outcomes.

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  3. Karen Ann Faiola
    September 6, 2022 at 2:40 pm

    Perhaps Nick is being hurt by another person who actually lives there. In any event, it appears that DDS just does what they want and they aren’t held accountable. I recently discovered that agencies that are set up to protect the disabled don’t do anything if it involves DDS.

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  4. September 6, 2022 at 3:34 pm

    It’s long past time for Nick to be removed from this provider home and for DDS to support Nick’s mother in retaining her guardianship. It’s hard to justify any logical reason for DDS doing anything else at this point. Nick needs his mother to be his guardian – because she loves him and is the only one paying attention to his welfare. Nick needs a safe place to live and a guardian who is truly focused on him!

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