It’s estimated that at least one-third of the homeless suffer from significant mental health problems. As these people age, become seniors, and are less able to take care of themselves, a question arises as to how and where these people will be cared for.
In past decades, those with significant mental illness were often institutionalized. Thus as this population aged, they were already in a care facility, so not much changed in terms of their care, except perhaps being moved to a different wing of the facility that may offer more specialized care for older adults.
Beginning in the 1960’s and continuing through the 1980’s, a significant de-institutionalization program began for this population. Instead of presuming that those in this population would need a lifetime of institutionalized care, the presumption shifted to assuming that all but those with the most serious conditions do not require institutionalization. Thus the care for this population correspondingly shifted to their families. Those who did not have families willing to assist typically became homeless.
New York Adult Homes Circa 2002
In New York, one of the initiatives that developed was the rise of “Adult Homes” capable of housing hundreds of residents in a single facility. These facilities are typically privately run, but funded by taxpayer dollars.
In a 2002 article, the The New York Times exposed the appalling Adult Home conditions in which thousands of patients in New York State lived at the time. Dead patients left in rooms for days until the stench could not be ignored. Patients dying from illnesses and conditions that likely could have been cured.
The Legislative Response
Over the past 15 years, the New York Legislature has enacted new regulations to protect vulnerable seniors; although for many, change has not come quickly enough. One development was the New York Protection of the Elderly – Office of Children and Family Services, which helps to protect vulnerable seniors from abuse. New Yorkers should now dial 1-844-697-3505 for the NYS Human Services Call Center (HSCC), which can answer questions about adult services, provide contact information for local Adult Protective Services, or take information regarding abuse, neglect, or exploitation of adults and send it to the local APS unit. (As always, if someone is in immediate danger – call 911.) Other legislation was adopted last year to help further protect New York seniors from physical abuse and neglect, as well as financial abuse.
Current Adult Care Home Conditions
Current adult care home conditions in New York can vary greatly among facilities. If you have a loved one who will be living an Adult Home, it will be important that you carefully evaluate any facility being considered.
Unfortunately, since these facilities are largely “for profit”, and since they rely upon the limited taxpayer funding made available, there can be pressure on the facilities to fill beds and cut costs to be profitable. Profit, however, should never come before the safety and welfare of residents.
It Does Not Matter Whether a Facility is Government Dependent in terms of the Basic Care Required
These facilities will be liable for injury and death if they are negligent in their care of residents, or if they allow residents to be abused. The fact that they receive funding from the government, which may be lower than the cost that other facilities may charge for care, is not an excuse for neglect or abuse.
If you have a loved one who is injured or killed as the result of negligence or abuse in an Adult Home, please call us for a free consultation. We accept injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis, so we are only compensated if you recover.