|Credit: Christopher Evans|
“We’re here in Massachusetts to help the citizens of Massachusetts to live in the community and try to get people out of institutions,” said Marilee Adamski-Smith of the advocacy group ADAPT.
Joseph Adamski-Smith said more Medicaid funding in Massachusetts goes toward institutions rather than home- and community-based services.
“We would like those funds to be sent to integrated community living. A lot of people are stuck in nursing homes,” he said.
The protesters included both adults and children, and people with mental and physical disabilities.
The crowd chanted, “We have tasted freedom and we won’t turn back.”
Several people told stories of neglect, abuse and triumph amid the struggles they face.
“I understood from my doctors that I had no choice but a nursing home … it was so much worse than I ever imagined,” said Anne Johansen, 65, who suffers from a progressive neuromuscular disease.
“Nurses get into this meaningless cruelty for no reason … to take away every last shred of dignity.”
Johansen has lived in four different nursing homes.
She described being intimidated while showering, being chased, patients being ignored and neglected and being denied access to the outdoors.
“Eventually I decided I couldn’t live like that and I attempted suicide,” Johansen said.
The Boston Center for Independent Living eventually helped Johansen receive Section 8 housing and she now lives in her own apartment in Quincy.
“When you’ve lived in a prison and then you’re free again, boy you know what it’s like,” Johansen said.
“It’s like steak after a famine.”
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Protest for the disabled: 200 people roll through the streets