The Benefits of Re-Assessing the Mental Health of Nursing Home Residents

One state's recent legal decision to separate mentally ill nursing home residents from others by moving them into smaller mental health settings is likely to prompt an industry-wide examination of the practice of accepting mentally ill residents into long-term care. It may also encourage an evaluation of how  mental health issues are addressed in nursing homes in general.

While those with a chronic mental illness require special programming, many additional residents would benefit from increased awareness of their mental health condition. It is not uncommon for mentally healthy adults to become depressed and require psychological treatment following admission into long-term care.  Residents are required to be assessed by many nursing home departments following admission, but there's no requirement for updating psychological assessments.

Using psychological services (funded through Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance or by the resident themselves, and not part of the nursing home budget), staff might expect to see less depression, and more involved and content residents. Providing appropriate treatment for nursing home residents means addressing mental health, as well as physical problems, regardless of whether they have a previously recognized mental health diagnosis. For more, read the story.

Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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