Study: Care facilities ‘unsafe, deplorable’

A dirty freezer at a community residential care facility in South Carolina.

Four years after an initial study found many South Carolina community residential care facilities were dirty, infested with insects and filled with residents who were mistreated by staff, a follow-up report by a nonprofit group shows little has changed.

A new audit of 14 community residential care facilities across the state by the group Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities shows “the same unsafe and deplorable conditions still exist.”

The first report, titled “No Place to Call Home,” was published in 2009. The follow-up report, “Still ... No Place to Call Home,” was released Tuesday. Together, the reports demonstrate a “depressing lack of progress,” the study said.

Some of the findings in the new study include:

Dead bugs and roach feces.

Stained mattresses and furniture.

Inadequate food supplies.

Not enough medicine or medical equipment.

Lack of toiletries, including shampoo and toothpaste.

Staff who yelled at residents.

According to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, there are 477 licensed community residential care facilities in South Carolina with 16,999 beds. Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities refused to disclose which residential care facilities were included in the study.

All 14 were inspected after unannounced visits.

South Carolina law allows fines against facilities that refuse to allow a team advocacy inspection. Victoria McGahee, an advocate with the nonprofit group, wrote in an email to The Post and Courier, “We regret that due to state and federal requirements to protect the confidentiality of people with disabilities, P&A cannot provide information about specific facilities monitored.”

She said the 14 included in the survey represent a cross-section of the facilities in the state, including both small and large, rural and urban homes. DHEC is charged with monitoring all 477 licensed residential care facilities — some are large with more than 100 beds, but many are small with only room for a few residents. The agency keeps tabs on all of them, monitoring everything from air filters to outdoor furniture.

A DHEC spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the new study.

The report calls on state legislators and agencies to address the issues.

We're improving out commenting experience.

We’ve temporarily removed comments from articles while we work on a new and better commenting experience. In the meantime, subscribers are encouraged to join the conversation at our Post and Courier Subscribers group on Facebook.