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Advancing the Human & Civil Rights of People with Disabilities in Illinois


Abuse, Neglect, and Other Human Rights Violations

Equip for Equality advocates for the human rights of people with disabilities.  Legal advocacy focuses on the following rights:

  • To be free from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and the excessive use of physical restraint (including via medication) and seclusion
  • To receive treatment and care that meets minimum standards
  • To receive services and participate in programs that meet each person’s needs as required by law

Often, we not only remedy individual rights violations, we achieve policy changes and other improvements (such as staff training), thus reducing the likelihood of others having the same problem in the future.

Recent case highlights and accomplishments

  • Institutional residents’ access to legal advocacy services:  With restricted phone rights, a woman at a mental health facility was having difficulty contacting advocacy groups such as Equip for Equality.  We advocated for her right to call for assistance. The facility changed its policy to allow people to contact advocacy groups like Equip for Equality without limitations.
  • Mental abuse stopped:  Equip for Equality was helping a man by phone regarding problems with his care at a facility and overheard an instance of verbal abuse.  We immediately reported the incident to the facility, which began an investigation. The investigation discovered mental abuse. The facility took appropriate action to address the employee’s misconduct.
  • Patient’s access to his own mental health records:  We helped a man obtain his medical records at the state-run mental health hospital where he had been involuntarily committed. With access to his records, he was able to advocate on his own behalf and returned home to resume outpatient counseling in the community.
  • Involuntary discharge of nursing home resident prevented:  A man with intellectual disabilities and serious medical conditions – including brittle diabetes – was threatened with involuntary discharge from the nursing home where he had lived for three years. He wanted to remain close to his aging parents’ home and the day program he had attended for many years.  Equip for Equality appealed the discharge because the nursing home had not developed an appropriate plan to address the “behaviors” the nursing home was using as the basis for the discharge. The man continues to live in the same nursing home.
  • Physical abuse and financial exploitation is stopped:  An employee of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services told Equip for Equality that a man with a developmental disability who works at her office as a janitor told her that he was being physically and mentally abused by his brother, with whom he lived. The brother also misused his Social Security money.  We worked with the man and his pre-admission screening agency to ensure that he was safe, that emergency services were provided, and that there was a plan for permanent housing and services.  We also reported the situation to Social Security and worked with the man to choose a new representative payee.
  • OIG/Equip for Equality team up to ensure neglect victim’s safety and care:  The Office of the Inspector General of the Illinois Department of Human Services found that an elderly mother had abandoned her son, a young man with an intellectual disability, at the hospital when she needed a break from caring for him or when she was hospitalized and had no other plan to care for him.  An emergency placement in a community agency was established.  In a coordinated effort, Equip for Equality represented the young man in court to have the mother removed as guardian and the emergency placement converted into a permanent residential placement.  The two parties agreed to allow the mother to remain the guardian, but removed her authority to change her son’s placement or the services he receives.  He remains in the community residential program, attends a day program, maintains a relationship with his mother, and is very happy.

Last updated: May 04, 2018

This website is made possible by funding support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, both the Administration on Developmental Disabilities and the Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; and the U.S. Department of Education, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. The contents of this website are solely the responsibility of Equip for Equality and do not necessarily represent the official view of any of these agencies.

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