Agreement to help 600 in personal care homes

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — An agreement has been reached that will lead to better care for some residents at personal care homes.

Advocates for the disabled and mentally ill told the Lexington Herald-Leader (http://bit.ly/16sBHjI) that the agreement between state regulators and a watchdog group will dramatically improve the lives of 600 mentally ill people who reside at personal care homes — and possibly others in the future.

The agreement will provide additional community-based services for people who have been isolated from the community.

Kentucky Protection and Advocacy is a state agency that advocates for the disabled and mentally ill. Director Marsha Hockensmith said the agreement is a “systematic change” in how Kentucky treats those who are seriously mentally ill.

“P&A staff have met with and listened to requests for assistance from personal care home residents and witnessed their isolation,” Hockensmith said. “Persons with mental illness represent some of the last to receive comprehensive community services and supports in Kentucky.”

Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes described the agreement as “an important first step.”

“The cabinet recognizes the importance of the issues P&A has identified related to the shortcomings of personal care homes in the commonwealth to address the needs of individuals living with serious mental illness,” Haynes said. “This agreement is an important first step that formalizes our commitment to increasing the amount of community services and supports available to help these individuals transition or stay in community settings whenever possible.”

Donald Dryer, who lives in a personal care home in central Kentucky, said he waited a long time for the agreement.

“Many people don’t know we are out here sick and alone,” Dryer said. “Waynesburg Manor was not my home. I am happy and joyful I am leaving the personal care home and getting my own place.”

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com

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