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PNS Daily Newscast - November 20, 2017 


On our Monday nationwide rundown; decision day for the Keystone XL pipeline; a border patrol agent killed in the line of duty in Texas; and time is running out to comment on fees that could double or triple at many National Parks in 2018.

Daily Newscasts

Tennessee Man Fights for Independent Living

PHOTO: Tennessean Martin McGrath has cerebral palsy, and is working to raise awareness about the importance of in-home care for those who live with a disability but aren't suffering from a long-term medical problem or need extensive rehabilitation. Photo credit: Andrea Church/Morguefile.
PHOTO: Tennessean Martin McGrath has cerebral palsy, and is working to raise awareness about the importance of in-home care for those who live with a disability but aren't suffering from a long-term medical problem or need extensive rehabilitation. Photo credit: Andrea Church/Morguefile.
June 9, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Martin McGrath of Nashville has cerebral palsy. Unable to take care of himself, McGrath struggles to maintain his independence through in-home care.

He is one of thousands of Tennesseans in need of home-based services, which can be difficult to secure because of funding and availability. While being placed in a nursing home is an option, McGrath says center-based care robs people like him of the independence they desire.

"The difference in your quality of life in your home versus a nursing home is more vast than the Grand Canyon," he says. "First of all, you feel much more comfortable in your own home than a nursing home. Secondly, you have no choice when you want to rise in the morning or retire at night."

According to the Tennessee Disability Coalition, nursing home facilities cost three times as much as in-home care, and the state recently tightened its stipulations for who qualifies for state-supported in-home care.

Another factor is compensation. In Tennessee, home health care workers make an average of $9 an hour, which is lower than the "living wage" in Tennessee. That increases agency turnover and the availability of home-health workers.

McGrath recently started his own social media campaign to fight for greater access to in-home care. He says staying in a nursing home is not a way to live the rest of his life.

"Nursing homes are a wonderful place if you have a serious, long-term medical problem or need extensive rehabilitation from an accident," says McGrath. "But if you just need assistance in daily living skills, they're nothing but a wasteland of humanity."

This summer marks the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which advocates say was an immense step toward greater civil rights for those with disabilities. Advocates now say the struggle is focused on enabling people to live independently in their own homes.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN