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Updated September 23, 2016
Abuse and neglect comes in many forms. When this treatment comes at the hands of people who are supposed to be taking care of us, it is a violation of our humanity and the very foundation of human rights. People living in nursing homes, care homes, and other facilities are some of the most vulnerable to mistreatment. The closed nature of institutional settings increases the risk of abuse and neglect, especially in stressful, underfunded, poorly monitored environments. Institutional justification, self-protection and shame mean that these practices can continue unabated unless safeguards are firmly in place.
The DRC works to end unnecessary restraint and seclusion and abuse and neglect against all people with disabilities.
December 8, 2006, Press Release: Central Registry Abuse and Neglect Task Force Issues Final Report
March 6, 2007: Sean Magoon testified at a public hearing about his son, Sean Jr.'s services through an Area Agency. The neglect of Sean's medical needs, and the indifference of QA and complaint investigators, almost cost him his life. Read his full testimony here.
DRC investigates complaints of abuse or neglect in institutions such as schools, treatment facilities, and community residences.
DRC received a call from a woman residing in a private psychiatric inpatient facility, who had been injured during restraint. DRC met with the woman, and in the course of the investigation received two other complaints of abuse of other residents. DRC investigated these complaints as well as the facility’s policies and practices regarding residents with behavioral challenges and the use of restraint. DRC found that the facility had emotionally abused the woman, and that the incident resulting in injury could have been avoided had the facility followed their own policies and treatment plans. DRC also found that staff training, supervision, and resources were inadequate, made recommendations to improve the facility’s policies and practices, and shared these recommendations with the NH Department of Health and Human Services and accrediting bodies such as the Joint Commission and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. As a result of the investigation, the facility accepted many of the recommendations, revised several of its policies and eliminated the use of prone restraint with a goal of eliminating the use of restraint altogether. DRC continues to monitor the facility.
The Sununu Youth Services Center
For over 5 years, Disability Rights Center - NH has conducted significant investigatory and monitoring activities at SYSC due to the high incidence of disability among children at the facility. The use of restraint and seclusion at SYSC has been a continuing concern.
Research has shown that long periods of segregation are ineffective as a strategy to change behavior, and indeed are harmful to a child’s mental health, especially for children with disabilities, mental illness, or a history of abandonment issues.
DRC received a report that some residents at the SYSC had been subjected to prolonged seclusion, or solitary confinement, and moved to a “Stabilization Unit” where they were restricted to their rooms. SYSC reported the unit moves were in response to a resident’s “crisis” but DRC determined the moves were punishment without due process, rather than treatment. Some children were being locked up in a small, bare concrete room for hours, sometimes for several days. Others had been secluded for up to 23 hours a day. While in seclusion, which could last for many days, youth were denied access to school and regular counselors. Recreation, phone calls, and even type of food were restricted.
Due to DRC’s findings, SYSC stopped locking children up and made significant changes to the Stabilization Unit. The children are not excluded from school unless they are actively experiencing a crisis. DRC continues to advocate that prevention programs and community-based alternatives to incarceration are better for children, proven to improve public safety by reducing juvenile crime and recidivism rates, and are more cost effective. More about the work of the DRC at the Sununu Center.
If you or your child is being mistreated by a program or facility, call DRC and ask for help at 1-800-834-1721.
Other places to go for help: