Illinois Nursing Home Residents with Disabilities File Suit

Illinois Nursing Home Residents with Disabilities File Suit

Five individuals with physical disabilities living in nursing homes have sued Illinois state officials for unnecessary institutionalization as discrimination under the ADA. The lawsuit seeks an order permitting people with disabilities in Cook County, IL, to access services in their own homes or in community-based settings rather than nursing homes. The class-action lawsuit charges that warehousing persons with disabilities in nursing homes segregates them from their own communities. According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, more than 31,000 people live in nursing homes in Cook County. In six of the ten largest facilities, housing hundreds of people each, the majority of the residents are not elderly.


Amber T.

I live in Wyoming. After my husband acquired a brain injury from a tumor in 2004, our hospital staff encouraged me to consider a nursing home after his rehab from brain surgery. We were only 26 years old and had only been married 2.5 years. The thought of my life without my husband by my side each day was horrible. Three years later and two more brain surgeries, we are struggling with some of his daily needs, but I couldn’t imagine my life without him home. It is surreal how close I came to admitting him to a nursing home. The doctors ultimately had the sense enough to realize it would not help him recouperate, but could actually diminish his mental status. Now he holds a part-time job, and I’m in the process of developing a non-profit organization with the main focus of supported employment for people with disabilities. We are extremely appreciative of our lives, and thankful for the battles that have made us stronger together. Afte six years of marriage, I truly feel blessed with the direction our lives have taken us toward assisting others with disabilities live fuller lives.


My older brother was born with some severe disabilities. There have been many times the system has failed him. He was placed into special learning classes, and even placed in physical education classes with younger children to decrease the “competition”; only to be told that he would never be good enough. He was born with a cleft pallet, deaf, and has brain functionality problems that causes him to think on the level of a 4th grader. There have been so many times that our family has tried sending him to group activities with mentors who turned out to abuse him; be it physically, sexually, and emotionally. People so often do not think of those with disibilities as one of us. Even in my own family, I have siblings who tease him and degrade his ability to think, act, and feel like any other human being does. I am actively working at this time to assist him in finding a good, steady job that will help him realize he is just as able as every other adult that live in society. At this point, he is living in his own apartment, paying his own bills, and cooking and cleaning for himself. All he wants to do is prove to others that he can accomplish whatever he desires, with or without their support. My mother has threatened suits several times towards those who have mistreated him, but never went forward with the filing process. Sometimes I can’t help but think that if that kind of action had been taken, his life, as well as the lives of others, could be improved.

The process is continual, but we (he and I) are working hard to get the help that he needs to realize his dreams and accomplish his goals.


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Thank you for the update. I wish the residents well in their class action suit. I certainly hope they are able to recover compensatory damages of some kind.