REPORT: Kentucky violates the rights of the disabled by segregat - WDRB 41 Louisville News

REPORT: Kentucky violates the rights of the disabled by segregating them

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By Dave Creek, Web Producer

LOUISVILLE, KY.(WDRB) -- "It is not my home." That was a common reaction of people living in personal care homes in Kentucky. Such homes look after people who need more than room and board, but don't require the intensive care given in a hospital or nursing home, and often it is not the resident's choice to live in one.

A report by a Kentucky organization that promotes the rights of the disabled concludes that personal care homes segregate disabled people in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The report, prepared by Kentucky Protection and Advocacy, says such homes segregate the disabled from people who do not have a disability.  That, the report says, limits their relations with family members as well as their economic independence and access to cultural opportunities.

State law says the rights of those living in such a home include being treated with respect and dignity and having the right to privacy, making phone calls, sending and receiving unopened mail, and being able to leave when they wish unless the home documents why they should not.

But the report says residents in such homes have regimented mealtimes, often with assigned seating, as well as curfews and mandated bedtimes.  It says at one home, researchers witnessed, "six out of 26 residents eating at children's school desks with their faces turned toward the wall."  Another home, it says, referred to people with physical disabilities as "the feeders."  They ate away from other residents.

Researchers also found that most residents liked their food, but others they didn't receive enough and couldn't have seconds.  Others said if they missed a meal, they could not have anything between meals.

The report also said residents cannot have private phone conversations or choose their own roommates.  The report also found that activities are "not age appropriate," and mentions coloring, puzzles, board games and other "demeaning and meaningless" activities. 

"I just want to enjoy life," one resident said.

The report also criticizes the physical settings of personal care homes, specifically long halls lined with bedrooms, people sharing bathrooms, and a lack of comfortable seating.  It also mentions furniture that is "old, filthy and in disrepair."  One resident said of one facility that it was, "a dump and I did not want to live here after I saw it."

The report also criticizes the buildings themselves, mentioning "leaking roofs, peeling paint, holes in the ceiling," and other problems.

The researchers' conclusions are the result of interviews with 218 people living in 20 homes throughout the state last year.  Kentucky Protection and Advocacy says it picked the 20 homes in part because of complaints received about them.

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