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HHS to Cite States for Failure to Help Disabled Individuals to Live in Their Community
According to a recent news article, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is expected to cite multiple states for failing to do enough to help disabled people live in neighborhoods and communities over institutions such as nursing homes. These citations will be “recommended actions,” letting states know necessary steps to comply with federal laws. States failing to comply will likely be taken to court.
According to the 1999 decision in Olmstead v. L.C., under the Americans with Disabilities Act, unjustified institutionalization of people with disabilities is a form of discrimination. Under this decision, states can maintain waiting lists for state-administerd services that would allow an individual to live in his or her community as long as the state has a plan telling people how long they will likely wait. A violation of Olmstead would be considered a wait of about one or two years. Six months, in a non-emergency situation, could be deemed acceptable.
However, some states do not have an Olmstead plan. In Kansas, for example, there is no plan, and many people with disabilities often spend one or two years on waiting lists. According to the article, states without Olmstead plans could have a difficult time defending their waiting lists in court.
In Kansas, Renee Wohlenhaus, a deputy chief in the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, said her office has been reviewing:
- State policies limiting spending by restricting access to community-based services until a person with a disability is near institutionalization;
- People with disabilities being admitted to nursing homes despite assessments showing they're capable of living in the community;
- State hospitals for the mentally ill discharging patients to homeless shelters.
Graduate Student Becomes Nursing Home Resident for 10 Days
A graduate student in social work from the University of Maine recently decided to spend 10 days in a nursing home to better understand what it would be like to be a resident. Kara Janes is healthy, but for 10 days, she was treated as woman confined to a wheelchair, unable to use her right side because of a stroke.
Janes believes her experience will build understanding for her future clients and add to her knowledge of the long-term care environment. On July 25, about half through her stay, Janes said in a news article that while the facility itself was clean and safe, she felt bored, lonely and depressed.
“I have this overwhelming sense of responsibility that I need to be the voice for the people who go through this day after day, month after month,” Janes said in a Bangor Daily News article. “You lose your independence. You can’t think for yourself. Everything is done for you.”
Janes believes this type of experience should be a part of every medical professional's training. She also thinks the experience of living in a nursing home will impact her professional practice in the future.
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Kansas Citizen Advocacy Group Provides Consumer Guide in Spanish and HTML Formats
As a part of the Quality Care, No Matter Where: Consumer Guides for Self Advocacy initiative, the Consumer Voice provided support to three citizen advocacy groups (CAGs) who created state-specific consumer guides. The guides are intended to educate older adults and persons with disabilities about options for long-term services and supports and empower them to self-advocate for quality care and services.
The Consumer Voice is pleased to announce that Kansas Advocates for Better Care (KABC), one of the CAGs funded under this initiative, has produced their “Go-To Guide” in Spanish and in HTML on the KABC website. KABC has also printed 1,000 copies of the guide to distribute across Kansas.
Wisconsin Ombudsman Long Term Care Program Celebrates 30 years of Advocacy!
Governor Scott Walker has declared the week of August 1st through the 7th Board on Aging and Long Term Care Recognition week. The Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care is an independent state agency that has served the citizens of the state for thirty years. During those years it has worked "as a committed and tireless advocacy organization within state government to serve the wider goal of a compassionate society. Click here to read the full article.
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About The Gazette
The Gazette is a weekly e-newsletter, published by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care and the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. If you do not wish to continue receiving this publication, please unsubscribe. Your contributions and comments are welcome and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright © 2011.
The Consumer Voice is the leading national voice representing consumers in issues related to long-term care, helping to ensure that consumers are empowered to advocate for themselves. We are a primary source of information and tools for consumers, families, caregivers, advocates and ombudsmen to help ensure quality care for the individual. The Consumer Voice's mission is to represent consumers at the national level for quality long-term care, services and supports.