States Struggle to Keep People with Disabilities out of Nursing Homes

Child in nursing home

In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled that people with disabilities have a right to stay in their communities and should not be segregated into nursing homes and other facilities.  This ruling, known as the Olmstead decision, was in response to a Georgia state appeal to enforce the institutionalization of people with disabilities, particularly those with mental illness.

Delivering the opinion of the court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said under Title II of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, “states are required to place persons with mental disabilities in community settings rather than in institutions when the State’s treatment professionals have determined that community placement is appropriate, the transfer from institutional care to a less restrictive setting is not opposed by the affected individual, and the placement can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the State and the needs of others with mental disabilities.”

Fortunately, the ruling also protects people with physical disabilities.

Unfortunately, some states are struggling to uphold the ruling and people who could otherwise live independently in their communities are finding themselves relegated to nursing homes and other institutionalized facilities.

“No one should be in a nursing home for even one day. That’s the law,” said Jerry Costley, executive director of the Disabled Rights Action Committee in Utah, a state that currently has almost 2,000 citizens trapped in institutions on a waiting list for community services funding.

The DRAC is encouraging citizens with traumatic brain injuries and other physical disabilities to participate in a Department of Justice Probe into the Division of Services for People of Disabilities.  The DSPD has struggled since 2008 to get past a recession stall in providing the necessary community services and waiver funding.

Other states are doing a much better job of getting citizens with developmental and physical disabilities the services they need to remain active independent members of their communities.  Ohio’s Department of Developmental Disabilities supports more than 75,000 adults and children with disabilities through it’s services.  The DODD in Ohio is working closely with the governor’s office to provide workable plans to honor the Olmstead ruling.

Housing, accessible transportation, and adaptive equipment are just a few of the key components to keeping people with severe disabilities in their communities and out of institutions and nursing homes.  How do you think you’re community does in ensuring that people with disabilities get the services they need?

M.C. Mobility Systems works closely with the Department of Developmental Disabilities and other state departments aimed at providing people with disabilities adaptive equipment, wheelchair vans, and disabled housing modifications for people in wheelchairs.  Contact us today if you need help finding these services in your community.