Olmstead Does Not Stop at the Institution’s Doors — And Neither Can Advocacy
Integration does not just mean getting out of an institution (unless that is all a person wants). Of course, getting out is essential, but, for lots of people, it will only be the beginning of full integration. Each person returning to the community must have reasonable opportunities to be interconnected into the community as he or she chooses.
People who have been in institutions for a long time have likely lost many of their connections to the community. It is typical for a person stuck in a nursing home to not have a motorized wheelchair, transportation, or any real way of getting out and about. The nursing home parking lot becomes an impregnable wall fencing the person into the nursing home. Friends and relatives may visit, but, for many, those visits diminish or even stop all together over time.
Thus, as we advocate for these men and women to get out of nursing homes and other institutions, we must ensure that, for those who want them, there are opportunities to reconnect to the community with accessible transportation, integrated housing, employment opportunities, and ways to be part of the faith and civic communities that they want to be part of.