Deinstitutionalization – a National Disgrace

Did you know that if a person has a developmental or intellectual disability they can have all the other diseases, illnesses and conditions that everyone else has?  I know this seems like common sense but at times I do not think that the Division of Developmental Disabilities  (DDD) understands this.  When it comes to the dual diagnosis of Intellectual Disability/Developmental Disability (ID/DD), as a cost saving measure for the DD Silo, DDD is booting out clients with DD who happen to have a mental illness.  DDD states that the problems are caused by the mental illness and not DD!

There are problems with service delivery within the DD system but from what I read and see these problems are not nearly as bad as in the mental health system.  So, rather than caring for these extremely vulnerable citizens in at least one system, they are being sent to a system which is much worse, where they will surely die.  Where is the humanity in this?

Right now there is a gentleman who is fighting for services.  He is 30 years old and has a history of developmental disability, he has been served all his life through DD and had a HCBS waiver to move into a supported living arrangement.  We all know that transitions are difficult and this transition caused a crisis.  This man is currently in the state mental hospital in the wing for people with DD.

Can you believe that our state made him ineligible for DD services stating he has a mental illness?  This man had an assessment done in March 2012.  One week the family received a notice, based on this assessment, that he was eligible for the CORE Waiver and listed all the services he would be getting.  The next week DDD sent them a notice (based on the very same assessment which qualified him!) terminating all services.  Is this how our state treats those in crisis?  They take away the services?

This is just one example.  I am contacting many families and we will be putting together our own report on our experiences.  It will be shocking.

Guns and Mental Illness written by New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Joe Nocera, spells out some critical information.

“”Ultimately, the article I wrote was about how the “deinstitutionalization movement” of the 1960s and early 1970s — a movement prompted by the same liberal impulses that gave us civil rights and women’s rights — had become a national disgrace.”

and

“The state and federal rules around mental illness are built upon a delusion: that the sickest among us should always be in control of their own treatment, and that deinstitutionalization is the more humane route. That is not always the case.”

The risks of deinstitutionalization (in both the DD and the Mental Health systems) greatly outweigh the benefits – it’s time the program planners and policymakers realized this truth.