The state's adult-care home industry says it supports a federal complaint filed against the state by and advocacy group for people with mental illness.
The advocacy group Disability Rights North Carolina filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department on Monday that contends the state is in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act for failing to provide proper housing for more than 6,400 people with mental illness now living in the state's rest homes.
The complaint also included details of four murders and alleged the state is failing to police the sometimes squalid and dangerous conditions in these homes, which are licensed and inspected by the state Department of Health and Human Services.
"For more than 15 years, we have warned that North Carolina’s adult care homes are in crisis," said Lou Wilson, the executive director of the N.C. Association of Long Term Care Facilities. "We hope that the complaint filed Monday by Disability Rights North Carolina will finally lead to action."
In a statement posed on the Web, Wilson said the industry has struggled to care for the flood of clients with mental illness and that Medicaid reimbursement rates in North Carolina are lower now than they were six years ago.
"The responsibility lies with the State of North Carolina, which has refused for years to provide our homes with adequate funding to deal with aged, disabled and mentally ill residents," Wilson said. "North Carolina has many good adult care homes providing a wide range of excellent services. The DRNC’s own visits confirmed this. The poor conditions cited in DRNC’s complaint are the exception, not the rule. ...
"But the state’s neglect inevitably hurts resident care. It is time for the State of North Carolina to do right by the residents of adult care homes. Perhaps now the federal government will force the state to act."