How We Help: Monitoring Visits
February 19, 2019 by DRO Intern Cecilia Hardy / abuse and neglect
At Disability Rights Ohio, we provide legal advocacy and rights protection to a wide range of people with disabilities. We do so much that it can be hard to explain everything that we do. This is the first in a two-part blog series that will explain our work to monitor and investigate places where people with disabilities receive care or treatment.
As Ohio’s protection and advocacy organization, Disability Rights Ohio has the unique authority to monitor any facilities that serve people with disabilities. Each year, our Abuse and Neglect Team visits a variety of facilities around the state. These visits are not prompted by complaints but are chosen at random as part of our responsibility to advocate for individuals with disabilities to receive safe, healthy, and fair treatment.
Who does DRO visit?
Each year, we create a monitoring plan that covers a diverse sample of facilities from locations across the state, including:
- Type 1 facilities licensed by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (ODMHAS) for adults and children with mental health diagnoses
- Resident Treatment Facilities (RTFs) for children with mental health diagnoses
- Nursing homes
- Private psychiatric hospitals
- State-run psychiatric hospitals
- Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs/IID) for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, operated by private companies
- Developmental Centers (DCs) for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, operated by the state of Ohio
What does a monitoring visit entail?
Before a monitoring visit, DRO sends the facility a letter and a notice. The notice is posted at the facility and provides information about who DRO is, why the facility is being monitored, and what we will be able to access while we’re there. We do not have to get approval before the visit, however.
A typical monitoring visit begins with a tour of the facility for the DRO employees, which usually include attorneys and advocates. During tours, DRO has access to public documents, such as facility policies or daily schedules. After the tour, DRO staff speak privately with any residents or facility staff members who would like to talk with us. These discussions are opportunities to voice any complaints or concerns, as well as for DRO advocates and attorneys to make residents and staff aware of the services and resources that DRO provides to people with disabilities in Ohio. At the end of the visit, DRO personnel meet with facility representatives to discuss any issues or concerns that may have come up.
The majority of concerns that arise during monitoring visits are minor and easily corrected. Often, the facility can correct the issues through changes to the physical environment or to facility policy. Some examples might be installing cordless phones to allow residents to have private conversations with friends and family or replacing old, broken furniture in the facility’s living spaces.
If a serious allegation is made during a monitoring visit, DRO can open an investigation to learn more about what’s going on. Investigations have a different process, which we’ll discuss in next week’s blog.