How does a state house psychiatric patients when the wards are few? Connecticut strategized by keeping them in a handful of nursing homes, but in one well-known instance – in 2003, a fire killed 16 in Hartford – this approach appeared to be putting the elderly at risk.
As a result, a lawsuit filed by the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington in 2006 against state Social Services, Public Health, Mental Health, and Addiction Services determined to put an end to this practice, and Connecticut officials reached a resolution this week, according to a report from the Register Citizen.
After eight years, psychiatric patients will be moved out of three state nursing homes and placed into apartments or certain community groups. Not only does this improve part of the state’s elderly population in a safer location, but the move further complies with ADA. Per the ADA, living accommodations must not place psychiatric patients in isolation.
Regarding the outcome, James McGaughey, executive director of the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities, told the press: “It safeguards everybody’s interests and rights and, most importantly, it creates opportunities for these people to have very real chances to live in their own homes with appropriate supports.”
Multiple federal programs are assisting Connecticut in this motion, which has already started. In addition to a Medicaid waiver, a $63 million program has provided funds for housing and aid.
The press has shed light on similar issues across the country. In addition to negligent, overworked staff, registered sex offenders being placed in nursing homes put residents’ safety at risk. This issue overlaps with housing psychiatric patients in elderly care facilities, as, in addition to violent behavior, these offenders have histories of schizophrenia, traumatic brain injuries, explosive personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and drug and alcohol problems.