The Partnership Statement to Relocate Congregate Facilities #SaveDisabledLivesNow

The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies (The Partnership) is the only U.S. disability-led organization [and one out of only two global] with a focused mission on equal access, disability rights and full inclusion of people with disabilities, older adults, and people with access and functional needs before, during, and after disasters and emergencies.

People with disabilities are 2-to-4 times more likely than their non-disabled peers to be injured or die in disasters. (1)  As experts in disability rights before, during, and after disasters and emergencies we, at The Partnership, know this is primarily due to inadequate community-wide planning and access to emergency and disaster assistance. 

With over 40% of the nation’s COVID-19 deaths in nursing facilities (2) and 70% of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 deaths in nursing facilities (3) – this pandemic has exposed the lack of planning, mitigation, and response institutions such as nursing facilities, group homes, state hospitals, prisons, and other congregate institutional settings, have in place. The pandemic has shed light on the magnitude and impact of the institutional bias that society places on people with disabilities and older adults, which has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people with disabilities in nursing facilities and other institutional facilities. For years, The Partnership has advocated for the civil rights of people with disabilities during disasters and emergencies, including the improper use of Blanket Waivers to expedite institutionalization during disasters and emergencies. 

It is time to recognize the fire the pandemic is within nursing facilities and other institutional facilities, and relocate the people inside to SAVE LIVES NOW! 

We are 17 weeks into the pandemic, and COVID-19 has taught us it is time to renew disaster response for people in nursing facilities. With the rampant spread of infection in congregate facilities, No longer can we relocate people from one facility to another during an emergency. Instead, the response needs to include the independent living philosophy, and enforce the Olmstead decision across the country. It is long overdue, we need to pursue cohort setting (one person to a room), and relocate high-risk people into non-congregate settings with wrap-around services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.

Centers for Independent Living are the experts in relocating and transitioning people out of nursing facilities and other institutional “care” settings, and into people’s own homes with the services and supports needed to maintain safety, health and independence. 

It is time to include Centers for Independent Living in the emergency response to the fire this pandemic has spread in nursing facilities throughout Pennsylvania and the country.  

  • People with disabilities make up 26% of our country’s population – that’s 1 in 4 people living with a disability.
  • People with disabilities make up 100% of the nursing facility population. 
  • People with disabilities and older adults are the highest risk of infection and death. 

The time is now, to stop with old practices that do not work.

We need to act now to save lives, listen to and work with the disability rights experts with the lived experience and knowledge on how to do this right. 

Resources to look to: 

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