Four Nursing Home Residents Killed By Mentally Ill Patients In NC

Posted on Aug 13, 2010
Ten years ago, North Carolina closed many of its psychiatric facilities, leaving an estimated 6,400 mentally ill patients without a place to turn or proper care. The majority of these mental patients ended up in nursing homes and adult care facilities, where young, violent, and mentally ill patients were mixed with the elderly. The result has been sadly predictable: in just the last two years, North Carolina nursing home residents have died at the hands of the mentally ill.

While the nursing homes, which are licensed and regularly inspected by North Carolina authorities, pay for the psychiatric patients with taxpayer money, many believe that neither the state nor the nursing homes are doing enough to protect everyone’s safety. Many of the nursing homes are understaffed – and many have histories of adult care negligence and abuse. The beatings that have taken place between the mentally ill and the elderly often happen when no one is supervising the residents and deaths usually happen when staff members don’t appropriately treat injured patients.

While the 1999 law to get mentally ill patients out of institutions and into more welcoming environments had good intentions, it has simply moved many of these patients into retirement homes where they could harm others or harm themselves. Now, recent research shows that one quarter of the people living in North Carolina nursing homes are there primarily because of mental illness, not age. The staff at these nursing homes often are not trained to deal with these patients, who often end up abused, neglected, improperly restrained, or overmedicated.

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