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Mental health issues more likely to lead to poor nursing homes

A study says that people with mild mental health issues are less likely to get into the best nursing homes.

A recent study has found that elderly people with even mild and treatable mental health issues are less likely to be admitted to a top-rated nursing home and more likely to find themselves in a one-star home, according to Reuters. The study showed that the best nursing homes in the country tend to admit fewer patients with treatable mental health problems, such as those suffering from depression and anxiety. As a result, these patients are more likely to end up in nursing homes that deliver poorer quality care and where abuse and neglect is more common.

Harder to access top care

The study looked at data spanning 2012 to 2014 covering 15,600 facilities and 3.7 million admissions to see how mental health problems affected admission rates. The results showed that people with depression and anxiety were 8 percent less likely to be admitted to a nursing home that had received Medicaid’s top five-star rating than individuals who suffered from no mental health problems.

People with more serious mental health conditions had an even tougher time getting admitted to top facilities. Those with bipolar disorder were 11 percent less likely to be admitted, those with schizophrenia 28 percent less likely, with substance abuse problems 27 percent less likely, and with personality disorders 32 percent less likely.

More likely to end up in one-star homes

While it is understandable that nursing homes may be reluctant to admit patients with behavioral issues, what was especially surprising is that conditions that are fairly easy to treat, like depression and anxiety, were still leading to patients getting rejected from the best facilities.

The study also found that while people with depression or anxiety were just one percent more likely to end up in a one-star facility, those with bipolar disorder were 11 percent more likely. People with substance abuse problems, personality disorders, and schizophrenia were 15, 18, and 28 percent likelier to end up in one-star nursing homes respectively than people without mental health problems.

Those results are troubling since one-star nursing homes are the worst-rated by Medicaid and are more likely to be places with higher rates of abuse and neglect and to suffer from understaffing. As CNN reports, one 2016 study found that one out of every five residents at New York nursing homes suffers mistreatment at the hands of other residents in a given month. Residents with mental health issues are more likely to be victims of abuse and are more likely to have a difficult time speaking up against abuse when it happens to them.

Nursing home malpractice

Sadly, elder abuse and neglect does happen at many nursing homes. For those who believe a loved one may have been the victim of nursing home malpractice, it is important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can assist clients with their legal options and may be able to help them pursue compensation for their abused or mistreated loved ones.