The Louisiana Department of Health has issued an initial implementation plan fulfilling one of the first significant programmatic requirements of the U.S. Department of Justice agreement reached in June 2018. The initial implementation plan outlines the Department’s goals, plans and actions for the first 18-month period of the agreement, June 2018 to December 2019.

Under the agreement, the Department has two goals:

1. Provide transition planning and support, as well as screening and evaluations to all individuals with serious mental illness who are currently living in a nursing facility.

2. For individuals who may face nursing home placement, the Department will assist them in receiving the care they need in a more appropriate, community-based setting.  

“Our agency believes that each Louisiana resident has the right to live with dignity, to be served with compassion and to have a choice when it comes to how they will receive care and where they want to live,” said Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health. “The agreement and implementation plan builds on the work we have already accomplished and guides our strategy to ensure that residents are receiving the right care, in the right place.”

The Department’s initial implementation plan outlines strategies to continue to develop and enhance the state’s behavioral health system along with family support services. The plan focuses on making system improvements that will divert individuals with serious mental illness away from nursing facility placements when appropriate. It will also identify those with serious mental illness currently living in facilities to determine how their needs can be met in a less restrictive, community-based setting.

The Department has already implemented changes to allow more individuals with serious mental illness to live in community-based settings and continue to actively screen those living in nursing facilities to ensure support is provided within the most appropriate setting for each individual.

Other people with serious mental illness who are eligible for nursing home care but who have not yet been admitted to a facility are screened with the intent of reducing their length of stay or preventing placement when possible.

This agreement and the Department of Health’s implementation plan follows a review by the Department of Justice in December 2016 that claimed Louisiana was unnecessarily relying on nursing facilities to serve people with serious mental illness. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires these individuals receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. Based on assessments, this may mean in a setting that is less restrictive than a nursing facility such as care in a home or community-based setting.

This plan was developed with feedback from local and state entities, providers and advocacy groups, and in conjunction with consumer meetings.

Click here to read the complete implementation plan.