Agreement reached on special nursing homes

Advocates reached an agreement with the state of Kansas that should help improve the lives of those in special nursing homes for the psychologically disabled.

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August 11, 2021 - 7:45 AM

Laura Howard, secretary for the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services, settled with a coalition of civil rights organizations to improve opportunity for people in specialized nursing homes for the mentally ill to reside and receive improved services in community-based housing. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — A cluster of civil rights and disability advocacy organizations reached agreement Tuesday with the state of Kansas to improve opportunities for people with mental illness to avoid institutionalization in special nursing homes unique to Kansas and to improve services so more could live in integrated community-based housing.

Outcome of more than a year of legal wrangling was designed to address problems at the state’s 10 Nursing Facilities for Mental Health and to transition the state away from unnecessary segregation of people with mental health disabilities at NFMHs in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. More than 600 people, many of whom are over age 50, reside in these facilities.

The Disability Rights Center of Kansas issued an investigative report in 2019 exposing inadequacies of the NFMH system and joined with Topeka Independent Living Resource Center to engage in legal action to drive reform. Negotiations with the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment were aimed at diminishing institutionalization of people with mental health disabilities at these specialized nursing homes.

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