Illinois: Mentally ill and aged residents a bad mix?

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Illinois: Mentally ill and aged residents a bad mix?
Illinois: Mentally ill and aged residents a bad mix?

The state is considering improving safeguards but also sweeping reforms to prevent dangerous mentally ill patients from harming fellow residents in nursing homes.

A Nursing Home Safety Task Force convened for the first time last month. State officials talked about creating a new class of facilities devoted to housing high-risk psychiatric patients, as well as community-based mental health alternatives.

The task force was established in response to a Chicago Tribune series about violence in nursing homes. It detailed how mentally ill criminals allegedly have assaulted, raped and even murdered elderly and disabled residents.

The task force has set a deadline of Jan. 31 to report its recommendations to the governor. It also plans to conduct unannounced site visits to nursing homes and set up a Web site.

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