The state has revoked the license of a Twin Cities-based service provider after determining that its staff neglected to provide the assistance to vulnerable adults for which they were hired, resulting in unlivable conditions such as insect infestation, rotting food, mold, cat feces and garbage strewn throughout the apartment.
One Life Health Services, based in Inver Grove Heights, was licensed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide a variety of services to vulnerable adults — individuals with mental or physical disabilities who need help to live by themselves. In a memo dated Feb. 18, the state revoked that license, finding maltreatment based on neglect.
"There was a preponderance of evidence that [the vulnerable adults] did not receive services provided by their care plans which posed a serious risk of harm to their physical and mental health," the memo said. "It was determined that neglect occurred."
Staffers at One Life were supposed to help two roommates living in a South St. Paul apartment manage their lives by providing 10 hours of "independent living skills services" a week to each adult. Those services included help with cleaning, as well as demonstrating how to manage homemaking tasks.
The apartment's conditions became "horrendous" and "horrific," in the words of a One Life staff member quoted in the state's memo.
A case manager noted that "everybody knew" the problems existed.
In an October e-mail to a legal guardian for one of the clients, a One Life staff member said "the blame squarely needs to rest on" the clients who are responsible for their own actions within the apartment, according to the DHS memo.
The adults had complex diagnoses. The first person mentioned received assistance because he or she had "Asperger's Syndrome, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, impulse disorder and oppositional defiant disorder."
The second individual had fetal alcohol syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder.
David H. Brooks, owner of One Life Health Services, said that he is appealing the state's findings and the revocation order.
"Just because [DHS] put it out there doesn't mean it's final," Brooks said.
Many of his company's clients are unpredictable, have challenging behaviors and cause property damage. They would be homeless if he didn't sublease apartments to them and provide services, he said.
He disputes the state's determination that One Life didn't provide the contracted services, adding that "we have paperwork to support all of those hours."
Furthermore, he said, his clients are adults who have the right to refuse One Life's services.
"We can't compel client A or client B to meet on any given day," Brooks said.
The state's maltreatment investigation occurred in October and November, with conditions ongoing before mid-October 2019. The roommates' lease was ultimately terminated.
A DHS spokesperson said such revocations are not common. In the past year, DHS has issued 17 revocation orders. It licenses about 1,800 home and community-based service providers serving more than 50,000 individuals in more than 4,000 licensed settings across the state.