Monday, January 13, 2014

People With Disabilities Have A RIGHT To Make Choices

What's For Lunch?

There may be some people who wonder how a person with disabilities can decide important things such as which doctor or therapist to see or which facility to go to. I wonder how anybody can take away another’s right to make such decisions! The institutionalization that began over a century ago in the United States is a direct cause of the stigmatization of people with disabilities. The multi-generational feeling has been that this population is incapable of making minor decisions, such as what to eat for lunch, let alone important life decisions as where to live and which doctor to see. Let’s not even get into the social aspects of life like love, sex and friendships!

"We the People" Includes People With Disabilities!

What A Community IS

The Department of Health and Human Services has completed the final rule on what home and community-based services are under the Affordable Care Act. Why is this so important? Because now a person with disabilities cannot be forced to live in an institution or nursing care facility and made to call it “home”. This statute states “that home and community-based settings do not include nursing facilities, institutions for mental diseases, intermediate care facilities…or any other locations that have the qualities of an institutional setting”. There were reports of “homes” being built on the grounds of former mental institutions where the patients inmates were herded under the guise of “community settings”.

Here are some of the (what I think should be obvious) stipulations to the Final Rule of the Home and Community-Based Services plan: 

* Settings must be integrated fully into the community – you know, like how your home, job, doctor, shopping mall, etc. are 
Individuals must have access to the community. This sounds like a no-brainer to me. It’s still shocks me that obvious rights like these need to be put down on paper in order to be understood 
Individuals have a right to privacy in their homes. We needed to write this out – AGAIN – in a new federal statute. I guess the Constitution and Bill of Rights don’t apply to people with disabilities 
Person-centered care plans are required which means that the individual gets to choose where they go, who they see and what they do, themselves, rather than having a doctor or caregiver decide what is best for them. Rule of thumb: A care plan is made with the individual not for the individual.

There is still a long way to go but this is a good step towards equality in the social and civil rights of people living with disabilities.

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