Landmark Settlement Moves Mentally Ill Residents Out of Nursing Homes

In a previous blog, our Hartford, Maryland Nursing Home Attorneys discussed the ongoing and serious issue many nursing homes are facing today—how to keep elderly residents who share facilities with younger mentally ill patients and criminals, safe from nursing home abuse and violence.

The Chicago Tribune reported today after an historic Illinois court settlement, that thousands of mentally ill patients are likely to move out of nursing homes over the next five years and into settings that are more community-based, due to a new legal agreement that has been created to rework the long-term health care system in Illinois.

According to the Chicago Tribune, more than any other state, Illinois uses nursing home facilities to house younger mentally ill adults, and this includes thousands of residents with felony records. The Tribune spearheaded a massive investigation recently, reporting a long list of nursing home violence, sexual assault, substandard care, and drug abuse in nursing home facilities, where psychiatric patients weren’t adequately supervised or monitored to maintain their safety as well as the health and safety of the elderly residents of the nursing home, to prevent resident injury or harm.

The agreement reportedly plans for state officials to offer around 4,500 nursing home residents who are mentally ill a choice between staying in the 24 large facilities that are known as IMDs, or “institutions for mental diseases,” or to move into smaller environments that are better suited for their disabilities and reportedly less expensive. The settlement reportedly only covers residents of the IMDs, which will still leave nearly 10,000 mentally ill residents living in nursing home facilities without the IMD classification among elderly and disabled residents.

The ACLU sued Illinois in 2005, citing the Olmstead decision, a 1999 Supreme Court ruling that mandates that proper patient placement in the non-restrictive settings, due to their disability. The Tribune reports that the settlement of this lawsuit was integral to the introduction of 38 new proposals by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s Nursing Home Safety Task Force, that aim to bring federal court oversight for alternative housing options and treatments for patients who are mentally ill.

The Governor’s new proposals, hoped to be made into law by the spring, are aimed at making facilities safer for elderly and mentally disabled residents—in an effort to reduce nursing home abuse, negligence, assault, and promote better care and safety for all residents.

At Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC we support the rights for Maryland and Washington D.C. residents to receive the best possible care in a nursing home environment that maintains and improves the quality of a resident’s physical and mental health, and is free from abuse or sexual assault that could result in injury or wrongful death. Contact us today.

Mentally Ill in Nursing Homes: Historic Settlement May Help Mentally Ill Residents, The Chicago Tribune, March 15, 2010

Related Web Resources:

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn: Nursing Home Safety Task Force

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