Federal law requires that individuals with mental illness, developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities or related conditions must not be inappropriately placed in nursing homes for long-term care. These individuals have the right to receive specialized services and the opportunity to live in the least restrictive setting in order to best meet their needs.
During Richard’s time living in a nursing home, between 2001 and 2014, he mostly stayed in bed due to lack of services and opportunity. He was admitted when he was just 22 years old. DRTx successfully advocated for Richard to be discharged from the facility. Richard is now 38 and no longer lives in a nursing home. He has a job, and is able to get around the community on his own using a wheelchair.
Disability rights advocates, including DRTx, allege that Richard is one of about 3,600 Texans with disabilities that the state has illegally left to languish in nursing homes. In 2010, DRTx filed a class action lawsuit against the state for these actions on behalf of Richard and several individuals and organizational plaintiffs, claiming Texas violated certain provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Medicaid Act. The case went to trial in October 2018 is awaiting a judge’s decision.
“It was…because of the advocacy of Disability Rights Texas…and because he was a named plaintiff that [Richard’s] life changed,” said co-counsel Steven Schwartz with the Center for Public Representation.
DRTx will continue to work to prevent institutionalization of people with disabilities and ensure their legal right to live in the community is upheld.