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Chicago Nursing Homes Using Scare Tactics to Keep Residents From Leaving

The Chicago Tribune reported recently on a new lawsuit filed by nursing home reform advocates against profit-driven nursing home operators.

Currently, over 4,500 Illinois residents with mental disabilities live in twenty four specifically designated Institutions for Mental Disease (IMDs) throughout the state. However, in a recent court settlement, the state pledged to allow some of those residents the option of transferring to community-based housing programs if they chose to leave the IMD. Only residents who passed specific screenings to assess their mental health level would be given the option of seeking out other living situations.

The recent nursing home lawsuit filed by the resident advocates claim that the IMDs are sending information to residents about the settlement that is confusing, misleading, and intended to provoke fear. The IMDs are attempting to scare all residents into preserving the status quo, claim the advocates. In that way, the operators of the IMDs are able to ensure that their profit-making nursing homes do not lose any money as residents leave their facility.

For example, Abbot House, an IMD located in Highland Park, sent “information sheets” to its residents claiming that troubling state finances make it unlikely that the state would be able to provide the proper services if residents chose to move to the community-based housing programs.

The entire situation was created by a previous consent decree which sought to uphold the basic principle that mentally ill Illinois residents should be forced to live only in the least restrictive housing situation necessary to protect their health and safety. Under the older system, all residents, regardless of their mental condition were forced to abide by the restrictions within the IMDs. The community-based housing options sought to allow the higher functioning residents a more open living choice with assistance provided as needed in subsidized apartment and group-home settings.

The fear-mongering by the Institutions for Mental Disease is another desperate ploy that highlights a pervasive problem at many nursing homes across the state: the prioritizing of money over resident care. Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti have experienced many forms of this problem. Whether it is failing to adequately staff a facility in order to spend less on salaries or deciding not to pay the costs necessary to improve substandard facilities, all too often nursing home administrators provide negligent care in order to save money.

No nursing home resident should be given less than they are entitled so that more money may end up in the hands of for-profit businessmen. Be sure to keep a vigilant eye on all activities in the nursing homes nearby and contact an attorney if your suspect someone has suffered from abusive and negligent nursing home care.