We Need More Help:

CW: Abuse, Neglect, Death, & Institutionalization:

In most of the United States, Mike Lee’s way of life has disappeared. Lee, 57, has lived at the Glenwood Resource Center, in Iowa, a state-run facility for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, for 44 years. He has autism and epilepsy, and his parents determined when he was 13 that he needed the structure and constant supervision that the facility provided.

Since the late 1960s, the number of Americans residing in such institutions has decreased by more than 90%. Seventeen states have closed all of their large public institutes for disabled persons. According to a University of Minnesota researcher, only five states haven’t closed any – Iowa, Nebraska, South Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming.

The Glenwood Resource Center in Iowa is closing due to a series of controversies. Allegations included that poor medical care resulted in many deaths and that managers planned unethical research on residents. According to state inspectors, a 30-year-old resident of the facility died in February due to acute dehydration after staff failed to monitor his fluid intake.

Top administrators were fired. As claims of inadequate care persisted, the Department Of Justice launched an investigation. Federal investigators found that Iowa had violated the legal rights of Glenwood Resource Center residents and relied too heavily on institutional care.

Olmstead v. L.C. was a landmark Supreme Court case decided in June 1999 that required states to eliminate unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities and to ensure that people with disabilities receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate for their needs.

In order for disabled people to live in their communities, more support is needed. In college, I struggled to find reliable PCAs. I went through three different people in three semesters. They were frequently late, didn’t have reliable transportation, or didn’t show up. This meant that my mother and a friend often took me to college.

Nationwide, there is a shortage of support staff. This is in part due to low wages. Sometimes, people can make more money working at a fast food restaurant.

PCAs and other home healthcare professionals in the US are only paid $13.02 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the New York Times, home care employees in six states earn an average of $11 per hour, and one in every five of them lives below the federal poverty line.

All disabled people deserve to live in their communities rather than being institutionalized. We need to fix the caregiver shortage now. People’s lives depend on their support staff. The care that people like me need can’t wait.


Donovan, Liz, and Muriel Alarcón. “Long Hours, Low Pay, Loneliness and a Booming Industry.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Sept. 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/25/business/home-health-aides-industry.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/.

“Home Health and Personal Care Aides: Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8 Sept. 2021, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home-health-aides-and-personal-care-aides.htm.

Kauffman, Clark. “State-Run Glenwood Resource Center Fined for Resident Death.” Iowa Capital Dispatch, Iowa Capital Dispatch, 9 June 2022, https://iowacapitaldispatch.com/2022/06/07/state-run-glenwood-resource-center-fined-for-resident-death/.

Leys, Tony. “As Institutions Close, Families of Longtime Residents Face Agonizing Choices.” Disability Scoop, Disability Scoop, 21 Sept. 2022, https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2022/09/21/as-institutions-close-families-of-longtime-residents-face-agonizing-choices/30047/.

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