By State Sen. Rich Taylor
Iowa?s long-term care services receive high praise for quality and affordability. In fact, Iowa?s long-term care services are ranked 13th best in the nation in the AARP?s most recent Long-Term Care Scorecard.
However, Iowa has struggled to find appropriate nursing facility placements for sex offenders and those who are aggressive or violent, as well as older Iowans who require psychiatric services and nursing home care. Unfortunately, there have been cases in which staff and other residents have been harmed, and facilities have been fined for not providing adequate security when caring for these individuals.
Providing long-term care for sex offenders, and those who are aggressive or violent is costly. It requires special training, security and insurance coverage.
The legislature has attempted to research the issue, most recently in 2013 when a study committee was approved by the Legislature but vetoed by Governor Branstad. At the governor?s direction, the departments of corrections, human services, and inspections and appeals created an informal workgroup that met over the last couple of years but produced no policy or funding recommendations.
It?s time that we find real solutions to the problem. The Mental Health Institute at Clarinda is the only existing facility in Iowa that accepts these patients. The governor?s call to close the Clarinda facility makes this issue even more urgent.
Last week, the Senate unanimously approved SF 386, which requests the Legislative Council establish a study committee to look at the feasibility of establishing facilities to provide long-term care and treatment for those who are sexually aggressive, combative or in need of psychiatric services designed specifically for older Iowans.
The study committee must hear testimony from interested stakeholders and the public; develop recommendations for a facility to care for and treat these hard-to-place individuals; consider workforce recruitment and compensation issues; and determine how to cover the expected costs. A report of the committee?s findings and recommendations is due to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2016.
UPCOMING PUBLIC FORUMS
? Friday, March 27, noon: Keokuk at the Hawkeye Steak House
? Saturday, March 28, 8:30 a.m.: Mt. Pleasant at the IWC Library