Vietress Bacon, 58, has no recollection of the accident that caused her to have permanent disabilities. She would gladly forget a period of her life, if only she could, that happened later.
Vietress spent two years in what was known as a convalescent facility at the time. Her mother was a constant presence, and Vietress credits her with teaching her to walk and talk again, as well as helping her recover her memory.
Years later, after working full-time in the restaurant industry, she underwent knee replacement surgery and eventually ended up in a wheelchair. She was renting a third-story apartment because the landlord was unable to get her one on the first floor, and as a result, she was looking for a new place to live. According to Vietress, a social worker in the hospital “told me I could get into this nursing home and they’d take care of me.” She felt stuck with no other options.
Attorneys from the AARP Foundation sued the District of Columbia in 2010 on behalf of Vietress and around 1,100 other residents of nursing facilities who were being denied the ability to live in the community with the necessary support rather than an institution despite being eligible to do so. Ivy Brown v. District of Columbia, which has twice been to the DC Circuit Court and is currently awaiting a federal judge’s ruling later this year, included Vietress as a listed plaintiff.
Olmstead V. LC was decided 23 years ago in June of 1999. Olmstead V. LC was a Supreme Court decision that required states to end unnecessary segregation of people with disabilities and to ensure that individuals with disabilities receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate for their needs. I hope the court rules that keeping people in nursing homes violates this decision.
Nobody should have to win the right to independence. Adults with disabilities should be able to live in their communities. We deserve to live where we want to live, just like non-disabled adults. My heart aches for people who are stuck in nursing homes and who want to live elsewhere. Nursing homes aren’t a replacement for our own homes! Home and community-based services need more funding because we all deserve to live in our communities.
“Disabled Adult Wins Right to Independent Living.” AARP, AARP Foundation , 15 Aug. 2022, https://www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/our-work/success-stories/independent-living.html.
“How Two Women Changed Thousands of Lives.” Disability Rights Texas, Disability Rights Texas, 17 June 2019, http://www.disabilityrightstx.org/en/2019/06/17/olmstead20th/.