CW: Abuse & Neglect:
Amber Williams has Cerebral Palsy. She was left to sit in her own waste. Her teeth weren’t brushed regularly, and she went days without being bathed. As a result of poor hygiene, she has developed recurrent bladder infections.
The 31-year-old also had another request. She wanted to attend services at Westside Christian Church. Many people attend religious services weekly, and Williams wants to do the same.
Williams’s requests were denied by the group home where she had lived since March of last year. Broadstep, which runs the group home discharged Williams because her needs were extensive according to her sister Brittany. Amber Williams was told that staff didn’t know how to transfer her to the toilet, even with a patient lift.
The Illinois Department of Human Services website says that Broadstept has been prohibited from accepting new residents. Broadstep hasn’t complied with requirements for CILAs.
According to advocates for people with disabilities, CILAs are less expensive for the state to fund than state-run institutions, and CILAs frequently provide better living conditions. According to the Chicago-based Institute on Public Policy for People with Disabilities, the average per-resident reimbursement to 24-hour CILA homes was around $91,000 in 2022, or one-quarter of the cost in a state institution.
CILAs in Illinois often pay their support staff low wages. As reported by the public policy institute, those facilities in Illinois experience a 44% annual rate of turnover. Before the pandemic, the national turnover rate in home healthcare was 40-60%, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The coalition-supported House Bill 3569 and Senate Bill 2026 would raise the DSP wage rate to 50% above the minimum wage, beginning in January 2024. It would also provide money above the $1.50 per hour increase requested by Gov. JB Pritzker in his fiscal 2024 state budget proposal.
Wage increases for DSPs and other employees in programs serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities would cost $141.6 million in the second half of fiscal 2024. and $283.2 million in fiscal 2025, which begins July 1, 2024. According to the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, the federal Medicaid program would cover half of these costs.
Money isn’t the only issue confronting Illinois’ CILA homes and the 10,500 people, served by those facilities. Some CILA operators fail to give employees enough oversight and training. Due to the high turnover rate some people work at CILAs who have less-than-desirable bedside manners, according to Mary McGlauchlen, executive director of Central Illinois Service Access.
Disabled people deserve to live free from abuse. We should feel safe and cared for wherever we are living. Disabled people should never have to worry about their basic needs being met regardless of where they live. Care can’t wait because people’s lives are at risk.
Laughlin, Jason. “A Pandemic Shortage of Home Health Workers Has Left Families Struggling to Find Care.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 31 Jan. 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/home-health-care-aide-philadelphia-covid-pandemic-elderly-disabled-seniors-20220131.html.
Olsen, Dean. “Woman with Disabilities Criticizes Group Home for Bad Care.” Illinois Times, Central Illinois Communications LLC, 13 Apr. 2023, https://www.illinoistimes.com/springfield/woman-with-disabilities-criticizes-group-home-for-bad-care/Content?oid=16703260.