Report slams conditions at Louisiana group homes

The Advocacy Center released a report March 20 detailing the results of a three-year investigation into 16 intermediate care facilities in Louisiana which it describes as the worst at providing proper services for people with developmental disabilities.

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“Thirty years ago, when group homes for people with disabilities, were first conceptualized, they were supposed to be family-like, comfortable environments where people with disabilities could live and be a part of the greater community. Instead, many of these homes exist as isolated, poorly maintained, inadequately staffed, and unsafe environments where people merely exist,” said Lois Simpson, executive director of the Advocacy Center, in a news release.

Louisiana has 509 privately run, but partially Medicaid funded, intermediate care facilities across the state, housing 4,100 people with developmental disabilities.

The 128 residents living at the 16 intermediate care facilities highlighted in the report live in homes where they are provided little opportunity to develop the skills necessary to transfer into more community and home based environments.

Most of them are stuck at the facility 24 hours a day with few transportation opportunities, going through a repetitive regiment of daily activities or, in some cases, work at sheltered workshops, according to the report. Many of the facilities are physical deteriorating. The facilities support staff, most of whom are paid poorly and unhappy with their work, provide the residents little privacy or proper support for their medical needs.

Statewide, the average resident at the intermediate care facilities waits eight years before moving into more integrated settings. The Americans with Disabilities Act bars segregation of people with disabilities and requires states to provide services ensuring that they can live in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs.

The Advocacy Center calls on the state of Louisiana to ensure that people living in the intermediate care facilities are living in safe conditions that are appropriately monitored and sanctioned when necessary. The Advocacy Center also recommends the state expand supported employment opportunities, such as through the Money Follows the Person program, and other programs to improve independent living skills.

Louisiana has the highest rate of individuals living in intermediate care facilities in the country, at 111 individuals per 100,000 state residents. The national average is 29.4.

Louisiana also spends 54.5 percent of its long-term care funds on institutional care, as opposed to home and community based care. The rate is the highest in the nation, and well above the national average of 33 percent.

The Advocacy Center is part of the federally funded protection and advocacy system and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.