Voices from Inside the Studio: Rights Wrap-Up
This month we wrapped up our official monthly discussion on rights with the right to review restrictions and procedures, as well as our system of grievances and appeals.
Expanding on our previous discussion of freedom from restraint and seclusion, we reminded our artists that Arts of Life will provide the least restrictive environment for everyone; what that means is, restrictions will be put in place only if they are absolutely necessary for the safety of the community, and these restrictions must be approved by the Human Rights Committee (HRC) and reviewed quarterly.
Studio artist Tim Stone has attended a number of HRC meetings on behalf of the Chicago studio. When asked what is discussed at those meetings, Tim was apprehensive: “It’s sort of confidential”; however, Tim did give insights into how these discussions take place. “We talk about it, then a bunch of people on the committee say yes. Or no. We’re discussing different rights.” Tim agrees that, at times, rights restrictions are necessary – “for safety” – if it can help relieve stress for the individual as well as the community around them.
We also reviewed our procedure for grievances and appeals. If an artist disagrees with a decision that is made by a staff member, or wants something changed, they have a few resources they can go to:
- Initial grievances and appeals can go to the Community Resources Manager
- If they are still unsatisfied, they can go to the Executive Director and we will set up a meeting within five days
- If that is still not enough, they can go to the Board of Directors
- If there are issues beyond our scope at Arts of Life, they can contact outside resources such as Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, Equipped for Equality, or the Illinois Department of Human Service – these numbers are posted inside the studio
So, what happens next?
Even though our monthly discussion on rights is ending, and all artists review the rights statement at their yearly review, how do we keep rights at the forefront of our minds? Educating ourselves and each other on our human rights is everybody’s responsibility. Together we’ll be coming up with a way to keep the conversation going – everyone agrees that it’s worth our while.
“I think it’s good,” says Frances Roberts about weekly rights review. “Or they’ll forget it.”
Susan Pasowicz adds, “I think it’s good that [we] talk about it, that way it helps other people, then they know where to go… We should try to help one another.”