In a new report released March 19, Kentucky Protection and Advocacy released the results of interviews with 218 people with disabilities living in 20 of Kentucky’s more than 80 personal care homes, finding that the personal care homes are akin to institutions that segregate their residents from their surrounding communities.
“The placement of persons who have a mental illness or intellectual disability in a personal care home ‘perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life,'” the report stated. “The state of Kentucky perpetuates this assumption by not developing recovery-oriented services and housing alternatives to help individuals with mental illness to achieve greater independence.”
In 2009 and 2010, Kentucky P&A held information and training sessions for more than 850 people with disabilities living in the state’s personal care homes. Information was provided about guardianship issues and the individual’s rights, among other issues.
After receiving an influx of complaints from residents on everything from the poor conditions of the physical buildings, to threats of hospitalization for refusing to take medication, to alleged sexual abuse, the Kentucky P&A made unannounced visits to 20 of the personal care homes between May 2011 and August 2011.
Many of the residents expressed concern about safety conditions in the facility. About a quarter of them responded that they had been hurt inside the personal care homes, mostly by other residents. Privacy concerns were also a consistent complaint.
The surveys found that most of the residents “expressed isolation, loneliness, boredom, and hopelessness.” Public transportation was nonexistent for many of the residents, resulting in isolation at the facilities. More than a third of the residents responded that they never had visitors.
Fifty-nine percent said they wanted to leave the personal care homes and live in a more integrated environment.
“I am a lonely man. I spend my time sitting on a milk crate in the shade,” one resident told Kentucky P&A in the report.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision bars unjust isolation and requires states to provide services ensuring people with disabilities live in the most integrated settings according to their needs.
Kentucky Protection and Advocacy is part of the federally funded protection and advocacy system and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.