Model Practices to help states strengthen systems as part of efforts to ensure that group homes are safe and healthy places for people with disabilities, as part of a spectrum of integrated options.
At the request of Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) examined states' monitoring and reporting of injuries and other critical incidents of people with developmental disabilities living in group homes. OIG found that up to 99 percent of these critical incidents were not reported to the appropriate law enforcement or state agencies as required.
All people, including those with disabilities and older adults, have the right to live as independently as they can, and group homes make this possible for many. Many do so safely, but the issues identified by OIG must be addressed to ensure the health and safety of all.
To assist states in making improvements, ACL joined OIG and the HHS Office of Civil Rights, along with the U.S. Department of Justice, to develop Model Practices to help address gaps in reporting and monitoring efforts. The Model Practices are based upon effective strategies being used by individual states, and were informed by a variety of stakeholders, including ACL’s DD network partners and grantees.
They provide a comprehensive, but flexible, structure for identifying, investigating, correcting, and reporting health and safety incidents, and making sure that these policies are implemented consistently. Process improvements like these can help create a more comprehensive and accurate picture of the problem, and in turn lead to development of solutions to ultimately reduce abuse and neglect.
These Model Practices were published today in a joint report from OIG, OCR and ACL titled, “Joint Report: Ensuring Beneficiary Health and Safety in Group Homes Through State Implementation of Comprehensive Compliance Oversight.” The joint report is a resource for states to use as a part of efforts to ensure that all group homes are safe and healthy places for people with disabilities, as part of a spectrum of integrated options.
ACL is committed to promoting home- and community-based services so that people with disabilities can enjoy lives of optimal independence and integration, and we are looking forward to working with our network partners to help states adopt and implement the Model Practices, and to reduce the risk of abuse and neglect of individuals with disabilities and older Americans.
In February 2018, a work group including staff from OIG, OCR, DOJ and ACL will meet with staff from ACL’s Living Well grantees to begin exploring how the Model Practices can be implemented as part of the grant model in the three states. This is just the first step – stay tuned for more information!