People with disabilities are generally happy about leaving institutions for community settings, but their new surroundings are not problem-free, an advocacy group report indicates.
The report out Thursday from the National Disability Rights Network looked at people with disabilities transitioning from large institutions to community-based settings in Alabama and North Carolina whose experiences were monitored by officials at the federally-mandated protection and advocacy organizations in each state.
They found that overall residents were pleased with their move into the community, citing advantages like being able to choose when to go to bed or what to eat.
But the transitions were not without problems. Advocates found children who were not attending school and residents with communication difficulties who were not provided needed assistive technology. What’s more, some individuals who said they wanted to work in the community were relegated to day programs doing piecework, the report found.
At one home in North Carolina, an advocate found a hornets’ nest just above the patio door. In another case, potentially dangerous cleaning supplies were left unlocked. And when an advocate went to check out one residence, she was “approached in a threatening manner by four adult males” outside the home, the report indicates.
“The findings demonstrate that institutions can be closed and individuals with disabilities moved into community settings, but their quality of life can be no more independent and integrated than their lives in institutions unless community integration efforts include monitoring and advocacy,” said Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network.