Lawmakers hold hearings on patient treatment in group homes
State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) has temporarily joined the House Human Services Committee as it meets with the Senate Human Services Committee to address the treatment of adults with disabilities in group homes.
The Chicago Tribune released an in-depth investigation into the treatment of residents of group homes. In their report, they found 1,311 cases of documented harm since July 2011 and 42 deaths linked to abuse or neglect in group homes.
These group homes, formally known as Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA) were formed in the 1980s to help adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The homes were supposed to eight or fewer adults in order to provide better individualized care to the residents.
During Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration, he tried to begin closing state-run institutions to save money. One such institution was the Warren G. Murray Center in Southern Illinois.
Bryant, who is from Southern Illinois was disturbed about the way adults with disabilities are being treated and has joined the committee as a substitute to help solve the problem.
“When Pat Quinn tried to close the state-run Murray Center in Southern Illinois, many families were put in an immediate crisis situation,” Bryant said in a post on her website. “Despite having lived their entire lives at Murray Center, residents and their families faced the possibility of being moved into a CILA, causing interruption to lifelong routines and the potential of being moved as far away as Chicago.”
As a result of the closures, hundreds of adults with disabilities were forced to move in these group homes. Due to lack of funding and over population, undertrained staff at these group homes have been stretched thin and are often neglectful of the residents.
Changes are being made to address the issue. On Dec. 13, a Cook County judge gave Disability Services, one of these troubled group homes, four hours to turn over 18 adults with disabilities so that they could be placed into better care.
The joint committee meetings started on Dec. 15 and have included discussions with CILA administrators. Bryant’s goal in these hearings is to find a solution to the problem without needing to eliminate any state institutions.
“It is my long-held belief that Illinois needs to have places like the Murray Center available for families to bring their loved ones to get around-the-clock, specialized care and supervision that they need and deserve,” Bryant said on her website.
Illinois has seven state-run institutions like the Murray Center, but during the hearing a CILA administrator suggested closing six of them.
There are more than 3,000 group homes today but even as it is, many of these homes are at capacity or have undertrained staff and could not handle the intake of residents closures would bring. The two committees will continue meeting on the issue.
“In the coming weeks and months, I will continue to call on the Illinois Department of Human Services to do all that it can to implement a comprehensive strategy that protects places like Choate Mental Health Center in Anna and the Murray Center in Centralia so vulnerable citizens in Southern Illinois will have safe, reliable facilities to turn to,” Bryant said.