Many poor disabled South Carolinians endure “deplorable” living
conditions ranging from roach-infested rooms to a lack of heat in
community residential care facilities that are partially funded by the
state, a report released Tuesday shows.
are 477 licensed CRCFs around the state with 16,999 beds, according to
Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities Inc., which was
designated by the Legislature to protect the rights of the disabled and
investigate abuse and neglect.
group based its report on unannounced inspections at 14 of these
facilities between October 2012 and February 2013 as well as interviews
with residents and staff, and document reviews.
found that many of the homes “are dirty, do not provide enough food, do
not appropriately administer physician prescribed medications, violate
residents’ rights, and do not provide protection from potential harm.”
some cases the conditions persisted for months or years, the group
said, and "appeared to present an imminent danger to the health, safety
or well-being of the residents."
residents live in CRCFs in conditions that have been and continue to be
deplorable,” said Gloria Prevost, the group’s executive director. “The
state has a duty to take steps to protect those who are living in
The state says it is working to improve conditions.
are nonprofit or for-profit businesses licensed by the state Department
of Health and Environmental Control to provide room and board and
personal care for residents 18 and older who suffer from mental
illnesses such as schizophrenia, intellectual disabilities and other
conditions like muscular dystrophy, blindness, diabetes and asthma.
Some have multiple disabilities and they rarely have family or friends to help, the group reports.
report documented mouse droppings in pantries, electrical wires hanging
from the ceiling, contaminated and inadequate food, no air
conditioning, fire safety and maintenance issues, untrained staff and
other serious problems.
One facility had a barbed wire fence. Another had one roll of toilet
paper for three bathroom stalls. Still another had no bed linens.
problems cited included no drawers in dressers, terrible odors, no
stock of prescribed medicines, an elderly man not taken to the bathroom
for many hours, and a lack of criminal background checks on employees.
the 14 facilities, three were inspected in 2009, when the group's last
report was issued, and conditions there hadn't improved since.
that time, Protection and Advocacy concluded that services didn’t meet
“the standard of care established by regulation.” And it recommended the
state make a number of changes, including revising regulations to give
licensing agencies more enforcement authority such as suspending
licenses of repeat violators, providing public access to inspection
reports of problem facilities, creating a registry of workers proven to
have abused or neglected vulnerable adults to be consulted prior to
hiring a new employee, and funding enough state staff to inspect and
of those changes was made, according to the group. So it has called on
the state to implement those changes now, along with other
report focused on those facilities that accept Optional State
Supplement funds from the state Department of Health and Human Services,
though most residents also use Social Security Disability income.
director Tony Keck told GreenvilleOnline.com the agency has been
working closely with providers, Protection and Advocacy and the
Legislature over the past year to improve the quality of life for
beneficiaries in CRCFs.
support P&A’s continued advocacy for vulnerable individuals and are
gratified that their report endorses the initiatives that DHHS is
implementing under Gov. Haley’s administration and are included in the
recently passed House budget for 2014,” he said.
is improving accountability and safety, and plans to institute a
comprehensive quality improvement program that includes listening to
residents and investigating complaints, the agency reports.
also plans to ensure appropriate placement in the facilities and
personal care plans for residents along with case management services.
And a new provider enrollment process will focus on a safe environment
and quality of care, as well as assuring that supplies and
transportation are available.
DHEC officials could not be reached for comment.
The report was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education.