Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mentally Ill Patients in Nursing Homes

Approximately 125,000 young and middle-aged adults with significant mental illnesses resided in nursing homes in the United States in 2008, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which reported on these numbers for the Associated Press. Additionally, more than nine percent of younger mentally ill people comprise the country's almost 1.4 million nursing home residents, an increase of six percent from 2002.

According to the Associated Press, the reason for this increase is due to several causes. First, state mental institutions have closed, leading to mentally ill people being placed in nursing homes. Second, more nursing home beds are available, since the elderly today are healthier than those of past generations, and thus live in their homes longer.

Violent Incidents at Nursing Homes
Over the years, tragedies have occurred at nursing homes due to the acts of mentally ill nursing home residents. For example, on May 30, 2008, Ivory Jackson, a nursing home resident suffering from Alzheimer's, was hit in the face with a clock radio while he was in bed. Jackson later unfortunately died of his injuries.

The perpetrator charged with the heinous crime was his roommate, who was a 50 year-old mentally ill man, about 30 years younger than Jackson. According to a state nursing home inspector's report, Jackson's roommate had a record of aggression and "altered mental status." The roommate was subsequently found unfit to stand trial and placed in a state mental hospital.

The fatal attack occurred at All Faith Pavilion, located in Chicago, Illinois, a for-profit nursing home with 231 beds. All Faith Pavilion participates in Medicare and Medicaid programs. The nursing home was fined $32,500 for the not preventing the assault.

Nursing Home Bill of Rights
The Nursing Home Bill of Rights (NHPBR), which is a federal law regulating the type of care nursing home patients must receive from nursing homes receiving Medicare or Medicaid, states under Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 483.112(a) that a state mental health authority must first determine whether the applicant who has mental illness needs the services that a nursing facility provides before being placed in a nursing facility.

Once the state mental health authority determines that a nursing facility level of care is required, then under Title 42 of CFR 483.120, the administrator must also determine if the patient needs specialized care, which involves implementing a plan of care that is created and supervised by a physician and mental health professionals. The plan of care aims at reducing the resident's behavioral problems, and can include specific therapies and activities for persons suffering from a mental illness.

The statutes mentioned above indicate that federal law requires a thorough screening of applicants with mental illnesses before they are accepted into the care of a particular nursing facility. It is important for families to thoroughly investigate the quality of the nursing home before they admit their loved ones into its care. For an official government guide to Choosing a Nursing Home

Thank you for reading this blog. If a loved one has been injured by another nursing home patient, contact me for immediate assistance.