KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Nursing Homes And Adult Care Centers Deal With Mental Health Issues

Families with mentally ill members have "mixed feelings" about a New York court decision on adult homes. Meanwhile, Illinois officials admit to errors in mixing mentally ill criminals with seniors in nursing homes.

The New York Times reports: "New York State is being pushed to disgorge thousands of mentally ill residents from institutional homes to less restrictive settings under a court decision last month. This has been a long-term goal of their advocates, who say that mentally ill New Yorkers have been warehoused in adult homes that provide minimal care while segregating them from society and stripping them of their dignity and initiative. But the decision has roused mixed feelings among those closest to the residents - their own families. In interviews, relatives said they were happy that the residents might soon be able to live on their own. But they also expressed fear, well founded or not, that life on the outside might prove difficult or even dangerous" (Hartocollis, 10/8).

Meanwhile, in its ongoing coverage, The Chicago Tribune reports: "Confronting serious safety breakdowns at nursing homes that accept high numbers of mentally ill criminals, the governor's top health official and representatives from seven state agencies dove into the task of fixing a problem that has festered for years. In the first meeting of Gov. Pat Quinn's Nursing Home Safety Task Force, the state officials discussed strengthening current safeguards but also suggested they were open to sweeping reforms, including whether to create a new class of facilities that would exclusively house high-risk psychiatric patients."

"The task force was formed in response to a Tribune series last week that detailed how elderly and disabled residents in nursing homes were allegedly assaulted, raped and even murdered by mentally ill criminals also living in the facilities" (Marx and Jackson, 10/9).

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