The Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council (MODDC) and Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services (Mo P&A) support the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) recent announcement of the disability rights investigation of Missouri’s use of skilled nursing facilities.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the DOJ will review whether the state of Missouri unnecessarily institutionalizes adults with serious mental illness in skilled nursing facilities.
The Department of Justice will investigate whether these individuals could be served in the community with other services. These services include supported housing, assertive community treatment, crisis services and peer support services.
The investigation will also look at Missouri’s use of guardianship for people with serious mental illness, and if guardianship contributes to unnecessary placements in nursing facilities. Guardianship is a process in which a court appoints someone to make certain decisions for a person, often including decisions about where to live.
MODDC and Mo P&A believe that everyone has the right to make their own choices and direct their lives to the maximum of their abilities. MODDC and Mo P&A believe people should not be ordered or kept under guardianship just because they have a disability, need (or want) support, or live (or want to live) in a particular place.
People should only be ordered or kept under guardianship when less-restrictive alternatives have failed to help them direct their own lives. Guardianship, when absolutely necessary, should restrict people’s rights to the minimum extent possible and empower them to make as many choices as they want and can.
As a state and society, we must acknowledge that disability does not equal incapability and respect everyone’s right to make their own choices and direct their lives to the maximum of their abilities.
Alternatives to guardianship should always be considered for people with disabilities before a guardianship is put into place. When absolutely necessary, guardianships should restrict rights to the minimum extent possible and empower wards to make as many decisions as they want and can.
MODDC and Mo P&A have worked together through the years to implement projects, advocate, and conduct research related to guardianship. Additionally, MODDC and Mo P&A brought together stakeholders through Missouri’s Working Interdisciplinary Network Guardianship Stakeholders (MO-WINGS) and the Supported Decision Consortium.
Alternatives to Guardianship
MODDC’s current project, Alternatives to Guardianship, is building awareness and providing individuals with intellectual and developments disabilities, and their families, information and resources on alternatives to guardianship. This project will also educate and inform individuals of their rights under guardianship. For more information about this project, visit: https://moddcouncil.org/our-work/current-projects/alternatives-to-guardianship.