State moves toward separately housing violent SNF residents

Iowa moved one step closer to a plan that would transfer violent public nursing home residents to a segregated government- or private agency-managed facility using state money.

The state Senate late last week approved a measure that would establish a task force to study the plan. It was spurred mainly by issues with elderly psychiatric patients, including four sex offenders, at a state mental institution in Clarinda.

Gov. Terry Branstad's (R) administration wants to close the facility, as well as one in Mount Pleasant, according to the Des Moines Register.

Nursing homes across the country have occasionally been challenged by caregivers with violent pasts, but when the residents themselves turn violent, there can be other serious ramifications. Several recent incidents of resident-on-resident violence in Texas and Michigan have rattled the nursing home industry.

Corrections officials in Oklahoma are considering a pilot program that would house aging convicts in a long-term care facility. Earlier state laws already allow the Department of Corrections to contract with a private nursing home to care for chronically ill registered sex offenders.

Cornell University researchers recently found that nearly 1 in 5 people living in nursing homes is involved in at least one aggressive encounter each month, and resident-to-resident mistreatment is under-reported at some long-term-care facilities.

The Iowa bill is expected to be considered by the Senate Human Resources Committee soon.