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Illinois Task Force Hears Concern about Mentally Ill in Facilities

Social workers, residents and advocates filled a hearing room to demand that Illinois stop using nursing homes to house younger adults with mental illness, including felons who police say assaulted, raped and even killed elderly and disabled housemates. The panel members heard a cascade of criticism and questions about the state’s decades-long pattern of channeling younger, mentally ill felons into facilitates that house geriatric and disabled residents. Illinois needs to stop institutionalizing people in nursing homes who are only there because of a mental illness. Currently Illinois houses about 15,000 people whose primary diagnosis is a mental illness. It is estimated that roughly 10,000 mentally ill residents could be moved into less institutional settings within five years if the state moved numbers around in the budget. Under Illinois law, all incoming nursing home residents are given a criminal background check and assessed for the risk they pose to other residents if felonies are discovered. However, these screenings can take too long and residents are at risk for nursing home abuse in the meantime. To read more about the nursing home hearing, please click the link.