It has long been a national problem: Since institutions specifically serving the mentally ill began closing in the 1960s, more and more psychiatric patients have been moved into nursing homes.
But the ramifications are negative from two angles: Psychiatric patients are in a living situation potentially violating the Americans With Disabilities Act, while the elderly residents are exposed to possibly-violent individuals. In Connecticut, the well-known case of a resident setting fire to her bed in a Hartford nursing home stems from a psychiatric patient being housed in such conditions.
However, according to a report in the Norwich Bulletin, a federal judge is now blocking this scenario. According to court documents for this case dating back to 2006, Connecticut officials keeping psychiatric patients in nursing homes violate the ADA and need to find more appropriate living conditions. The two homes receiving the most focus were Chelsea Place Care Center in Hartford and the Touchpoints at Manchester.
Just moving out residents isn’t as simple as it sounds, unfortunately. Based on a 2010 case with a similar outcome, Illinois state officials planned to transfer 5,000 psychiatric patients housed in nursing homes out over the next five years, but after screenings, only 45 individuals had been placed into apartments or communities over the first year.
As well, according to an Associated Press report in 2009, the government will pay for Medicaid treatment when those with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and similar conditions are help in nursing homes, but not so when they’re sent for in-patient care in a psychiatric institution.
Likely as a result, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimated in 2009 that 125,000 mentally ill patients reside in nursing homes. For that year, this amount composed nine percent of the population being kept in nursing homes, as well as a 41-percent increase in the number of psychiatric patients living in elderly care facilities.