Improving Mental Health Treatment in LTC: McKnight’s Guest Post

I wrote a guest post for McKnight’s Long Term Care News addressing how psychologists can help nursing home residents and when a referral for treatment might be appropriate.

“The recent Illinois legal decision to move mentally ill nursing home residents into smaller mental health settings is likely to prompt an industry-wide examination of the practice of accepting mentally ill residents into long-term care. If nursing home residents are lucky, it will also trigger an evaluation of how we treat mental health issues in nursing homes in general.”

4 thoughts on “Improving Mental Health Treatment in LTC: McKnight’s Guest Post”

  1. Dear Dr. El,
    After losing my mom to dementia complications less than two years ago, I wrote the following as I try to heal from not being able to convince the nursing home folks that mom needed better pain management. Just want to share with you.

    My blog –

    CAUTION – This may break your heart !

    Imagine this:

    *You are chemically and physically bound to a wheelchair.

    *Dementia has robbed you of your ability to communicate verbally.

    *You are experiencing the worst pain you’ve ever felt from a UTI, of which you have a history, or a cancerous tumor that has unknowingly developed, or a migraine headache that makes you want to vomit or joint pain (history of osteoarthritis) so terrible you wish you limbs would fall off.

    *Your pain causes your face to grimace, your teeth to grind, and your legs to constantly push you to the wall where you bang your head as you cry.

    *Your nurse says you’re just agitated, gives you another dose of Ativan for anxiety, charts this as an agitation event, and notes your pain level at “O”.

    *No one calls the doctor to suggests pain medication is needed.

    *Your family pleads for better analgesia at a scheduled rate to keep you comfortable but gets no support from the nursing or medical staffs or corporate management.

    *The physicians recommend another psychiatric review but no suggestion of a pain consult.


  2. Candy, I'm sorry to hear of your mother's experience and the difficulty you had in being heard by the treatment team at her nursing home. Unfortunately, underdiagnosing pain is not uncommon, and it's an issue I've written about on this blog before: Pain management for nursing home residents. I hope readers will continue to advocate for adequate pain management for their loved ones, and, if necessary, find someone on staff who will assist them, such as a nurse, social worker, or consulting psychologist.


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