Second death in five years raises questions about placement of mentally ill Kentuckians in personal-care homes

The second death in five years of a mentally ill person who has walked out of a personal care home has “prompted advocates for the brain injured and the mentally ill to question whether personal care homes, which do not provide skilled nursing care, are the appropriate place to house people who have serious, chronic and complex problems,” Beth Musgrave and Valarie Honeycutt Spears report for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Larry Joe Lee, 32, who “had a brain injury, was schizophrenic, bipolar and diabetic,” was found dead in after walking away from the Falmouth Nursing Home, the writers note. “In 2007, Larry Bruce Huff, 64, who had schizophrenia and a history of alcoholism, walked away from Golden Years Rest Home in Letcher County and later froze to death.” The state closed Golden Years last week, and legislators say they will address the overall problem in the 2012 General Assembly.

“Personal care homes provide long-term care for people who do not need full-time nursing home care but need some assistance,” the newspaper explains. “They receive a small state stipend and social security disability — $1,194 a month — to provide services to a complex population that includes the mentally ill, mentally disabled and even those who have recently been released from prison. There are 82 free-standing personal care homes in Kentucky serving more than 3,000 people.” (Read more)

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