Do nursing homes in Los Angeles County have the capacity to provide appropriate care to residents with mental illnesses, or are facilities that house large populations of residents with mental illnesses more likely to be sites where injuries arise out of nursing home negligence? According to a recent KQED podcast, while nursing homes are typically thought of as spaces for older adults who need assistance with care due to physical incapacitation or cognitive impairment, “a new LAist investigation finds that thousands of people with serious mental illness are living in California’s nursing homes,” and it could potentially be a violation of federal law. In addition, nursing homes with high rates of residents with mental illness could put other residents at risk of abuse or could take necessary care time away from residents who need assistance with various activities of daily living (ADLs).
What should you know about mental illness and nursing home negligence in Southern California? Our Los Angeles nursing home neglect lawyers can tell you more.
Nursing Homes Not Designed to Care for Residents With Serious Mental Illness
One of the most important things to come out of the LAist report is that California nursing homes are not equipped to care for residents with serious mental illness, and this practice of taking in these patients, commonly described as “warehousing,” has had deadly results across the state. As the authors of the investigative report point out, “few nursing homes are certified as ‘special treatment programs,’” which means that they do not have employees with the necessary “skills and training to care for people with serious mental illness.”
The lack of appropriate resources and resulting harm has not gone unnoticed, according to the LAist report, yet safety and health citations have “effectively act[ed] as slaps on the wrist for serious violations,” and many nursing homes engaged in this dangerous “warehousing” practice have continued to operate without any changes. The report also indicates that the rate of residents in skilled nursing facilities across the state of California has been increasing in recent years, and serious injuries have resulted.
Negligence in Nursing Homes With Residents Diagnosed With Serious Mental Illness
Medicaid law is supposed to “prevent the institutionalization of people with psychiatric disabilities,” and given the high rates of residents with serious mental illness in skilled nursing facilities across California, the practice may amount to more than mere negligence. Indeed, it may amount to a kind of de facto institutionalization in violation of federal law.
Beyond the possible violation of federal law, the increasing number of nursing home residents with serious mental illness has resulted in an increasing rate of injuries, likely due to negligence. As the LAist report emphasizes, “without proper supervision, residents with serious mental illness have slipped out of nursing homes and gone missing for weeks, and been released with little regard for their needs.” The report cites a case of a 68-year-old nursing home resident with schizophrenia being “found face down and barely alive in the rain by a passerby” and later dying of hypothermia, for example.
Seek Advice from a Los Angeles County Nursing Home Negligence Attorney
If you have concerns about an elderly loved one’s safety in a nursing home — whether it is an elderly loved one with a diagnosed mental illness or an elderly loved one who is not receiving proper care due to limited resources — you should get in touch with an attorney who can help. One of our Los Angeles County nursing home negligence lawyers can speak with you about your concerns. Contact the Walton Law Firm today.
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