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'Lack of Meaningful Safeguards' in DC Group Homes, Says Post

by Dave Reynolds (subscribe)

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express (subscribe)

WASHINGTON, DC--Four residents of Washington, DC group homes have died in the past year in what a court monitor is calling a pattern of neglect, the Washington Post has reported.

The Post is following up on a report by court monitor Elizabeth Jones who claims that organizations which contract with the district to provide residential supports to people with physical and intellectual disabilities are failing to adequately protect and care for those residents. Jones also said the deaths "reflect the lack of meaningful safeguards in the system".

Jones' report did not include the names of the three men and one woman who died between November 2004 and September 2005. The Post gave few details except to note that Jones' report described numerous problems, including the failure to monitor diet and nutrition; poor communication between group homes and hospitals; delays in treatment because one person who died did not have a legal guardian; and the failure of the government and the group home operator to check staff qualifications.

Officials said Tuesday that they have shut down one of the homes where two of the four died.

DC Council member Adrian M. Fenty, who chairs the Committee on Human Services, last week requested copies of the investigations and scheduled an emergency oversight hearing over the group homes' operations.

"The records should be made available," Fenty said in an interview. "We're a government. If you don't shine light on the government, then you won't get good performance."

Six years ago, Washington Post correspondent Katherine Boo wrote a controversial series of reports on a number of deaths in DC group homes. Headlined "Invisible Lives" and "Invisible Deaths," the series earned Boo a Pulitzer Prize.

"4 Deaths in D.C. Group Homes Raise Concerns About Neglect" (Washington Post)

"D.C. Shuts Group Home Faulted in 2 Deaths" (Washington Post)

"Files Sought on Group Home Deaths" (Washington Post)

The original Pulitzer-Prize winning series:
"Invisible Lives & Deaths" (Washington Post)

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