The intellectually challenged woman who had been part of our lives for the past two years exists in a complicated, yet porous social safety net. Living semi-independently, she has access to a support worker about four hours a week who helps with everything from shopping to doctor appointments to hygiene to money management to just talking with her on the phone when she’s lonely.
But this is a bed bug website, so you know where I am headed, right?
Yes, she got bed bugs.
Mohan noted how devastating bed bugs were to this woman:
It’s hard to give quality care for someone who has the mental development of a six-year-old in just four hours a week. When her apartment was overrun with bedbugs, all her belongings were thrown out without proper explanation to her. She had to start all over again, including relocating.
This bed bug case may have been mismanaged. In most instances, throwing everything out is not a good idea. It is not necessary, costs the resident a lot of money and heartache, and doesn’t actually solve the problem. It also can help spread the bed bugs to surrounding neighbors. Most PCOs we know don’t tell people to throw everything away, but instead treat mattresses and furniture, direct people to encase their mattress, and give instructions on how to wash and dry clothing, so most or all belongings can be saved.
To throw away a disabled person’s things without even explaining it to her is simply horrible.
Besides the need for thoughtful and proper bed bug treatment, this heartbreaking story also reminds us of the need for better emergency social services for people with bed bugs.
It is not just people with intellectual challenges, as this woman, who might need extra help with preparing for bed bug treatment. The elderly and physically challenged also need help with prep (decluttering, obtaining and fitting mattress encasements, washing and storing belongings, etc.).
Four hours a week of assistance might be reasonable for normal circumstances, but this woman needed a lot more help during her bed bug infestation. With proper assistance, this infestation would not probably have been so devastating.