Reasons to Regulate Group Homes for the Mentally Ill
Is there a need to regulate group homes for adults with severe mental illness? Recently, I was living in a privately run group home, and to make a long story fit the word count, witnessed abuse and reported it. I'm now living in a transitional housing program for adults with mental illness run by a public community mental health center, and life is considerably better there. It made me think about the need to regulate group homes for the mentally ill.
Reasons to Regulate Group Homes for the Mentally Ill: We Need to Know Our Rights
At the private group home, I was the only one who knew my rights. Staff did not tell us what our rights were. There were no posters with a contact number in case our rights were violated. And there certainly were no safeguards to keep our rights from being violated. It was as if anybody could run a group home with little or no supervision. Our rights were the first casualty of lack of regulation.
I used to lean Libertarian, which means I don't approve of excessive regulation from the government. But in some cases, regulation is necessary. This is especially true when vulnerable people, such as adults with severe mental illness, are involved. Like it or not, regulation provides oversight, and oversight saves lives. Some things should not be private, and one of those is assisted living facilities for adults with severe mental illness. We need to know our rights. That's why we need to regulate group homes--a regulated group home is required to post information informing us of our rights and what steps to take when those rights are violated. Regulation means the residents will know their rights and how to stand up for them--which considerably reduces the risk of abuse of those rights.
Reasons to Regulate Group Homes for the Mentally Ill: We Need Trained Staff
I was under the impression that the staff at the private group home were not trained how to deal with adults with mental illness. I have lived in supervised residential settings for about half of my adult life, and during that time I have heard a threat of violence only once--at the private group home. While I have dealt with staff who have attitude problems, are on power trips, or just plain ignorant, there is recourse to deal with those people in the public sector. The better the education level of the staff, the less abuse happens.
One need only look to the psychiatric hospitals to see this is true. A well-funded hospital provides better treatment. The more money that is available, the more is invested in treatment, and the better the prognosis of the patients. When the hospitals cut corners, it's usually in labor--and when it comes to staff, you get what you pay for. The less money that is available, the less trained the staff, who provide less of the right kind of treatment, which means a poorer prognosis for the patient.
I spent some time in the state hospital system--one with poor funding and one with adequate funding. At the one with poor funding, staff were negligent and abusive. At the one with adequate funding, staff actually cared what happened to us and took care of us, physically and mentally. The difference was the funding--the staff were better trained at the hospital with adequate funding, which meant we received better care and did better.
Reasons to Regulate Group Homes for the Mentally Ill: We Need Staff Motivated by Something Other than Money
I've been treated by both public and private community mental health centers. The private one was all about the bottom line. The more trouble I had paying for treatment, the more they cut back on my treatment, and the worse I fared. More than once I wandered the street psychotic, delusional, and suicidal with their full knowledge. At the public one, I receive the treatment I need regardless of my ability to pay for it. As a result, I will soon move into my own apartment and am holding down a part-time job--something the private one said would never happen.
Psychiatric staff should be motivated by something other than money. For example, the public mental health system tends to attract idealists. An idealist will act in the interest of good, whereas someone motivated by money will act in the interest of self. An idealist will do something because it is right, whereas someone motivated by money will do something because it is profitable. An idealist will act in the best interest of the patient, whereas a person motivated by money will act in their own best interests.
So that's why we need to regulate group homes: to prevent abuse, to receive better treatment, and because it is the right thing to do.
Oberg, B. (2015, July 29). Reasons to Regulate Group Homes for the Mentally Ill, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2015/07/the-need-to-regulate-group-homes