Southbury Training School, the state's largest residential facility for those with intellectual disabilities, should be allowed to close — as planned — once the current generation of residents is gone.
A proposal to keep it afloat by retooling part of the huge, 1,400-acre campus as an outpatient multi-care clinic with medical, psychiatric, geriatric and short-term respite care services for the disabled sounds attractive on the surface. But it would be too expensive for a cash-strapped state if experience is any guide.
In its heyday, when now-obsolete institutional care for the disabled was the reigning model, the Southbury Training School was home to nearly 2,000 residents with disabilities. The population fell during years of court oversight imposed because of severe understaffing and crowded conditions and the rise of the community-based care concept. Now more than 950 state employees serve only 368 residents.
An internal memo at the state Department of Developmental Services estimates that by the 2020-21 fiscal year, just 69 residents will remain at Southbury, taking into account deaths and placements into the community. The state froze admissions to the facility years ago.
Family members and some advocates for those with intellectual disabilities swear by Southbury. But the cost of care in the institutional setting is extraordinary. The expense at Southbury is $380,000 per resident per year, on average. The same kind of care in a less restrictive community- or home-based setting costs half as much or less.
DDS Commissioner Terrence Macy says there "are no plans for an expanded use" of the Southbury campus and no money for added medical services.
There is a need for expanded medical, dental and other types of care for the intellectually disabled in Connecticut, but they can be most cost-effectively delivered at the community or home-care level.Copyright © 2015, CT Now