April 10, 2016

“The U.S. Supreme court ruled in 1999 that unnecessary segregation of people with disabilities is a form of unlawful discrimination. Since 2009, the Department of Justice has executed more than 40 legal actions in 25 states to ensure states integrate this population into community settings.”

Dear Susannah,

In the last segment on RHCs you mentioned the Supreme Court’s decision but did not quote the last part that states “ there will be those who will always need residential facilities.” (paraphrased) Those who wish to live outside of a residential facility have that right. Those who wish to live in an RHC have that right as well.

I am happy for those you’ve interviewed and televised showing they love where they live now. Obviously, they should have never been in one of the facilities or improved so much in an RHC they could now live safely out of one. For many years there were few homes that would take those with developmental disabilities. Now there are some good homes. Many of our most vulnerable would not thrive in one of those homes. They need the safety of a campus where the staff has the expertise to meet their needs. You saw many of those individuals and neglected to feature them. You heard the residents and parents/guardians talk about their satisfaction but never mentioned those in your segments. Why? Was there a bias for living in the community rather than in an RHC?

Our staff is continually learning to assist the residents in better ways. There is oversight in each facility that you cannot find in most homes in the community. Staff has longevity and therefore is knowledgeable about its residents.

Several past residents talked about their work and activities they enjoy that were unavailable to them when they lived in an RHC. Any of our residents who are able to work are given jobs they enjoy which also increase their skill levels. Many activities are frequently available to them. When my sister lived at Lakeland she enjoyed the Fair, boating, shopping, dances, and picnics, etc. There were times she didn’t want to leave her house and therefore didn’t have to go.

We advocate for all those with developmental/intellectual disabilities and especially want our loved ones to be happy and safe wherever they choose to live. At this time our loved ones choose to live in an RHC.