Date: September 10, 2019
To: Long Term Care Facilities - Provisionally licensed Specialized Mental Health Rehabilitation Facilities (SMHRF) only
Re: Williams Consent Decree
The Williams Consent Decree, entered on September 29, 2010, in settlement of the Williams v. Quinn class action lawsuit, requires the State to provide residents of Specialized Mental Health Rehabilitation Facilities (SMHRFs) with the opportunity to explore transitioning to a community-based setting.
Williams Class Members are defined as Illinois residents with Serious Mental Illness (SMI) living in institutional settings (SMHRFs), and who with appropriate supports and services may be able to live in a community-based setting, such as a private residence, permanently supported independent housing, supportive living program setting, or supported/supervised residential facilities.
As part of the Williams Consent Decree, all Class Members are to be educated and informed about the opportunities that exist to facilitate successful transitions into the community and to be evaluated for the ability to transition, if they so choose.
Currently, the Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Mental Health (DMH) leads the implementation of the Williams Consent Decree, in partnership with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) and the Department of Public Health (DPH). Further, to accomplish this mandate, the Chicago branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) performs outreach activities in each of the SMHRFs and are readily accessible to residents should they wish to explore transition.
The Specialized Mental Health Rehabilitation Facilities Act of 2013 (“Act”) 210 ILCS 49, requires that, “[a]ny employee or agent of a public agency, any representative of a community legal services program, or any other member of the general public shall be permitted access at reasonable hours to any individual consumer of any facility, unless the consumer is receiving care and treatment in triage centers” and further notes that “[n]othing in this Section shall be construed to conflict with, or infringe upon, any court orders or consent decrees regarding access.” [210 ILCS 49/3-110]
Section 3-108 of the Act also requires the executive director to “ensure that space for visits is available” as every resident “shall be permitted unimpeded, private, and uncensored communication of his or her choice by…visitation.” [210 ILCS 49/3-108]
In accordance with the Act, SMHRFs must identify a reasonable location for NAMI Outreach staff, Ambassadors, and Class Members to convene that will afford engagement opportunities without interfering with daily operations or privacy of the Class Member or other residents. The SMHRF staff are strongly encouraged to establish relationships with the NAMI Outreach staff and Ambassadors to facilitate access to Class Members. While NAMI Outreach staff and Ambassadors are encouraged to avoid disrupting the daily activities of SMHRF staff, they cannot be required to make appointments, and have a right and obligation under the Consent Decree to disseminate educational materials per the court order.
When NAMI Outreach staff or Ambassadors identify a Williams Class Member who is interested in being evaluated for transition into a community-based setting, a Resident Reviewer will conduct an initial assessment, which requires access to Class Members and their records. If the Resident Reviewer determines the Class Member is appropriate for transition services, the Class Member is referred to a Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) for transition-related services. Again, SMHRFs will need to allow these entities, as well as others in accordance with the provisions of the Consent Decree, to have the space, time, and access to Class Members and their records in a sufficiently private setting to allow full participation by the Class Member in the process.
If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Public Health, Specialized Mental Health Rehabilitation at (217) 782-5180 or DPH.SMHRF@illinois.gov.