Delaware County home for the deaf in jeopardy

    A Delaware County residence faces a closing that could leave about 40 older, deaf people scrambling for a new place to live.

    The Pennsylvania Department of Welfare oversees the license for the Valley View home operated by the social services nonprofit group, Elwyn.

    Department spokeswoman Anne Bale said state officials are working with facility operators to make sure Valley View residents are well cared for–and can stay in their home, if possible.

    “We don’t have a timetable yet,” Bale said.

    There are several new alternatives on the table; under one proposal, Valley View would become a life services program and shed its status as a nursing home.

    “A nursing home, I always think of it as sort of a medical facility, where people have a high level of need,” Bale said. “A life services program is more something to help older adults remain independent.”

    A reimbursement offer from the state — earlier this summer — is $800,000 less than Elwyn’s operating budget, according to Elwyn spokeswoman Angela Jacobsen.

    Valley View’s board voted to close the residence in June.

    Jacobsen said the state’s original proposal considered Valley View’s mix of medically fragile and nursing home-eligible residents but did not adequately factor in the extra needs of a deaf population.

    Family members worry residents will be relocated to other care sites and lose their current level of easy communication, she said.

    “They fear that splitting the individuals up could lead to deterioration of their physical health and welling because the nursing home staff could perhaps be unable to understand and respond to the needs of the deaf population, in the same way that they have now at Elwyn,” Jacobsen said.

    Right now, all Valley View facility staff communicate using American Sign Language.

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