Recently, the federal government published a report that said that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services failed to investigate correctly, over 2,600 cases of abuse, neglect, and other bad things, of people with disabilities! Here are a couple newspaper articles about it, for you to get more information…
(Portland Press Herald)
Tucker Conley, SUFU’s incoming Board Chairperson was really upset about this and wrote the following excellent letter to several Maine newspapers…
My name is Tucker Conley & I am the Chairperson-Elect of Speaking Up For Us (www.sufumaine.org), Maine’s Self-Advocacy Organization for adults living with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities (I/DD). As someone living with a disability, myself, I was very angry and frustrated when I read recent articles that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services failed to properly investigate (or not investigate) thousands of abuse, neglect, etc. allegations involving people with disabilities!
The biggest question I have is, “Why aren’t people doing their jobs?” The fact that around 2,600 adults with I/DD were suffering abuse and/or other serious problems that weren’t being reported or investigated properly (not only by DHHS but also some providers and medical professionals?) That makes me sick to my stomach! Our voices (whether we can physically speak, or not) are not being heard and we’re dying because of it! One thing that we all deserve in life is to feel safe and it’s clear that many people with disabilities, don’t!
At SUFU, we know however we came into this world, that our lives have value. Notice I said, “Lives?” I say this because a lot of times it’s assumed that people with disabilities can’t have a high quality of life. There are things I’m not able to do myself, for which I need help, but I still hang out with my friends, do lots of walking, go to the gym, etc. My disability is a part of me but it’s not all of me. People need to realize that we all have the same value, and the same rights, no matter what type of body we have.
I know that we, as a state, can do better! However, if Medicaid money is taken from the state as a way to change how things are done, that would be a big mistake because as people with disabilities, we want and need more choices and control over our lives, not less.
As human beings, we need to stop looking the other way when we see abuse and other horrible things happening to people (or even if we suspect it) because to do otherwise is to say that someone like me is “less than.” I’m not & we’re not!
Chairperson-Elect / Speaking Up For Us
I have some questions for you to talk about at your next Chapter meetings, or with friends and family…
- How does reading this make you feel?
- If you were going to write to your local newspaper about this, what would you want to say?
- What can we do as self-advocates to make sure that people with disabilities aren’t abused or neglected?
Until Next Time,