ACLU Says Some Nursing Homes Use 'Scare Tactics' To Keep Psychiatric Patients

Chicago Tribune: The American Civil Liberties Union says in court papers that some for-profit nursing home operators are using "scare tactics" to persuade psychiatric patients to stay in their facilities. "The action follows a historic court settlement in which Illinois authorities pledged to offer supportive community-based housing and treatment to roughly 4,500 psychiatric patients who now live in two dozen large nursing homes designated as Institutions for Mental Diseases. The nursing home operators strongly deny trying to frighten or mislead the residents and say they're raising legitimate concerns about whether the state will make good on its pledge to provide the needed housing and services in the community." A settlement was reached after a five-year lawsuit that challenged Illinois' "reliance" on mental disease institutions to house the mentally ill. The settlement says residents "who want to leave and who pass a screening can relocate to subsidized apartments or group homes where staff are on site or visit to provide therapy, job training, life-skills training, substance-abuse programs and other services." Under the settlement, those that want to remain in the facilities may do so. "Federal laws require states to place patients in the least restrictive setting appropriate to their disabilities" (Jackson and Marx, 7/21).

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