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State panel recommends adult home reform

September 26, 2002 – A committee charged with examining the conditions in adult homes released their findings earlier this week. Created by Governor Pataki in response to April’s New York Times series on conditions in adult homes, the committee included the Commissioners of Health and Mental Health, as well as consumers and advocates.

The panel looked at changes on two fronts–both those that could be implemented soon and those that would require additional time to implement. Of immediate concern is the physical safety and well-being of the residents, many of whom take multiple medications on a poorly supervised basis.

Short-term recommendations include: an assessment initiative to capture more complete information on patient demographics and care requirements; licensed supervision of medication distribution; implementation of Independent Case Managers/Service Coordinators to oversee the physical and mental health services for each individual; and the introduction of a Peer Bridger program to help promote the rehabilitation and recovery of the residents.

Regarding the long-term solutions, the panel concluded that many of the residents with mental illness would be better served by residential services which are administered by the State Office of Mental Health. Because there is currently a major shortfall in OMH bed capacity, the committee called for Governor Pataki to create more than 5000 new mental health beds of varying levels of intensity.

The report also asked that the services within the adult homes be augmented and scrutinized with additional oversight. Among the recommendations were the introduction of ACT teams, an increase to the Personal Needs Allowance of residents, creation of an advisory group to examine new models and monitor progress, and the strict enforcement of existing and newly created regulations.

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