For those who have a family member or close friend with a chronic mental illness, life can be filled with challenges. Chronic mental illness takes its toll on families, who often don’t have the training or emotional resources to adequately care for their loved ones. It’s difficult to navigate the waters of the legal and mental health care systems, and doubly difficult to find a good home for a loved one with a mental illness who can’t live on his or her own.
Despite a family’s dedication and willingness to do whatever it takes to ensure that their mother, father, brother, or sister receives the care he or she needs, it’s not always clear what housing and care options are available or suitable. Here, then, is a review of six of the most common types of housing and care available for those with a chronic mental illness.
Nursing Homes: Because those who are mentally ill sometimes are in need of long-term medical care, there are times when a nursing home might be necessary or appropriate. However, many nursing homes aren’t equipped to adequately address mental health care issues. When selecting a nursing home for a loved one, ensure that it specializes in serving those with chronic mental illness.
Residential Care Facilities: Most people with chronic mental illness receive the appropriate level of care in residential care facilities. Typically, they provide 24-hour staffing, room and board, and assistance with medications and scheduling mental health care appointments. These kinds of facilities are generally not locked.
Adult Care Facilities: Adult care facilities are more family oriented than residential care facilities, but generally provide the same level of care. They are more appropriate for those whose conditions are stable. Adult care facilities are not locked, and some do not provide 24-hour staffing.
Family Care Homes: The family care home setting is more of a typical home in that it serves a much smaller number of residents and is not generally staffed 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, many subsidies for those will chronic mental illness will cover this level of care, even though the individuals may need the services of an adult care or residential care facility.
Assisted Living Units: An assisted living unit, as its name implies, is most appropriate for those people who are high functioning and stable. With assisted living, there is minimal staff supervision and residents typically live in apartments and receive services like meals, laundry, and medication supervision. Assisted living can also be a bridge to independent living, in that if someone successfully participates in assisted living for a year, he or she may be able to transition to a traditional apartment.
Psychiatric Units: Psychiatric units are either based in or affiliated with hospitals. One type of psychiatric unit specializes in short-term acute care, most often when a person is a danger to himself or herself, or others. The goal in this situation is to stabilize the individual and transfer him or her to another kind of facility. The other type of psychiatric unit is one that is affiliated with a state hospital, and is often a locked facility for those needing longer-term care.