June 12, 2002

Assembly Releases Recommendations for Adult Home Crisis; Short Term and Long Term Solutions Included

Albany, NY - The Assembly released a report and recommendations for immediate action to improve conditions of adult homes. Proposed changes include immediate and more effective inspections and enforcement and a full examination to develop systemic changes to remedy the state's failure to support quality care and alternative community-based housing and services for the mentally ill and other at-risk people now in adult homes.

Recommendations include:

  • Creating a special prosecutor for adult homes appointed by the State Attorney General to provide oversight and pursue criminal cases of abuse;
  • Forming emergency inspection and assessment teams composed of the Department of Health, the Office of Mental Health, the State Office for the Aging, and the Commission on Quality Care for the Mentally Disabled;
  • Making it easier to appoint a receiver to take over operation of an adult home;
  • Establishing a Quality Assurance Fund to support resident advocacy and adult home quality initiatives; and
  • Expanding referral restrictions to prevent residents discharged from hospitals or government facilities from ending up in adult homes that are not in compliance with the law.

"Over the last decade, the Legislature created programs to improve care and services in adult homes. But the Administration has hamstrung these programs with bureaucratic delays, under-funding, and regulations that block effective use of the programs. An appropriate long term strategy must fix the problems with existing programs as well as deal with the question of whether large adult homes are the appropriate homes for mentally ill people and others with special needs," says the report.

"The Governor's proposals were disappointing," said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried (D-Manhattan). "Instead of offering a long-term vision for quality services and appropriate housing alternatives, he responded with a legislative package of minimal first steps aimed at more effective policing but little more."

"The State Constitution, federal case law, and common sense call for de-institutionalizing the mentally ill into the least restrictive setting possible," added Assembly Mental Health Committee Chair Martin Luster (D-Trumansburg). "Instead we have 'trans-insitutionalization:' moving mentally ill people from state psychiatric hospitals into large adult homes -with many of the same problems."

"In the nursing home scandal in the 1970s, a special prosecutor helped clean up the situation," said Assembly Oversight Committee Chair Jeff Klein (D-Bronx). "The special prosecutor should be part of the Attorney General's office, so it will be independent of the Administration and able to investigate the problems in oversight of the industry fully."

Assembly Aging Committee Chair Steven Englebright (D-Setauket) said, "The lack of effective oversight and enforcement has helped create bad adult homes and allowed them to get away with inhuman conditions and scandalous activities."