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Class-Action Illinois Nursing Home Settlement Gets Preliminary Approval From Judge

Earlier this week we mentioned the much-heralded settlement reached in the Illinois nursing home lawsuit involving disabled resident rights. The agreement arose following a long-standing class-action suit which sought to make state officials provide alternative living options for Illinois residents with disabilities who had previously been forced to live in local nursing homes. Those calling for changes believe that these individuals should not be forced to live in often negligent Illinois nursing homes with the most restrictive living condition and instead should have been given opportunities to live on their own.

The 2007 lawsuit was filed on behalf of local residents who were capable of living in community settings with at-home aid but were not allowed to do so while receiving state assistance. For example, one local resident was forced to receive state aid to help after suffering a stroke which forced him out of his job as a delivery truck. He had to move into a nursing home with three roommates in a single room, little privacy, and a curfew. This was all required even though he could have received the aid he needed while in his own home or apartment.

Observers believe that recent reports highlighting the prevalence of Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect may have played a role in a resolution finally being reached in this case. A settlement was finally reached this week with state officials to provide these individuals with more living options. More than 20,000 low-income individuals with physical disabilities living in local nursing homes could be affected by this decision. Proponents of the settlement explain that it will both improve the quality of life of thousands of disabled residents while saving the state money at the same time. If approved the agreement will proceed with phased changes to the current system. In the first phase, the state would provide at least $10 million to help over a thousand residents move out into houses or apartments in the community. That would be followed by a similar second phase with more individuals being helped.

A local federal judge recently gave her preliminary approval to the plan, and it will now progress to a late December hearing where comments and objections can be provided. At that point the judge will decide whether or not to give a final approval to the agreement which will likely then become law.

This agreement was actually one of three closely related class-action suits involving the care and housing of mental ill and disabled Illinois adults. Similar agreements have been reached in those cases involved the living situation of at least 13,000 local residents.

Our Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti work each day with victims of poor nursing home care and their families. Our experiences have made clear that these assisted-living facilities are often the last resort for many who wind up in them. It is completely logical for others to wish to have alternative options presented to them. This is especially true when those alternative options would without increased financial burden on the state and with potential developmental benefits for those involved.

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