The Right to Fail, PBS/Frontline/ProPublica

The ProPublica/PBS investigative documentary details the coordination of medical care and housing through nonprofits. The coordinated care wasn’t really coordinated and highlights the dangers of a lack of accountability for these adult homes and supportive housing. The main patient detailed in the documentary, Nestor Bunch, suffers from schizophrenia disorder. His mother lived her life as an amazing advocate for mental health, including advocacy for federal supportive housing funds.

The journalists investigated the coordination of New York State’s mental health system with independent living programs for those with severe mental illness.

The right to fail means allowing mental health patients with serious mental illness to live independently and away from supervised adult homes. The transitions lack gradual approaches, and the patients do not have strict adherence to medications and additional care. Even bad choices, including refusing to accept care in supportive housing, are part of the definition of the right to fail.

There is no incentive for adult home and supportive housing programs conducted by nonprofits to follow-up on independent patients without regulators enforcing those standards. The documentary shows the worry most individuals have in supportive living that their lives are too independent and therefore unmanageable for medication adherence and day-to-day living without them knowing. It can also be misconstrued as individuals unnecessarily fully capable of independence but are placed into that program, both as part of a court order or for efficiency.

Highly recommend the documentary because it focuses on the individual and the experiences dealing with someone with schizophrenia and managing symptoms while undertaking this system.

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