Agreement signed to help Kentuckians with severe mental illness transition out of institutional care to community housing

The state has reached an agreement with an independent agency that advocates for people with disabilities that should allow more people with severe mental illness to get out of institutional care an into community housing.

The agreement allows the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and Kentucky Protection and Advocacy to address many of the concerns identified in a 2012 P&A report about personal-care homes, which are long-term facilities that provide care for people who don’t need full-time nursing care, but need some assistance.

The disability advocates have long argued that personal-care homes run counter to the Americans with Disabilities Act and a court decision saying that disabled patients should live in the “most integrated setting.” That is defined as one “that enables individuals with disabilities to interact with non-disabled persons to the fullest extent possible,” Kentucky Health News reported in 2012.

“The latest agreement shows that the cabinet recognizes that recovery is possible and that the best place for recovery to occur is in the community,” Jeff Edwards, director of P&A, said in the state news release. “The expectation is for Kentuckians with mental illness to receive services and supports that allow them to live fully included lives.”

The news release notes that P&A was prepared to file a federal lawsuit to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other court decisions in August 2013, but instead, along with the health cabinet, made an agreement to address the many issues found in the 2012 P&A report. An amended agreement was signed in 2015.

And while the “full vision” of both of these earlier agreements has not been met, the release says that both agencies have agreed to renegotiate terms “that represent more objective, measurable goals for meeting the needs of these individuals.”

“Today, more than 925 individuals with a serious mental illness are living successfully in the community with full tenancy rights, having received supported housing assistance and other supports and services from the cabinet under the terms of the prior agreements,” says the release.

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