Can You Baker Act Someone With Dementia

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Florida’s Baker Act Is Overused Inefficient And Inadequate

What is Dementia?

A state law designed originally as a humane measure to prevent mentally ill people from harming themselves or others is like the canary in the coal mine.

The Baker Act, which allows people to be locked up against their will, was devised in the 1970s to ensure people who posed a danger to themselves or others would get the secure emergency evaluation and psychiatric care needed.

The act was intended to provide short-term involuntary help in crisis situations. People can be committed against their will only after a judge, police officer or doctor first rule the person is ill enough to require a 72-hour in-hospital psychiatric evaluation.

Its use statewide is extensive.

In 2014, this state entered into 181,471 Baker Act commitments. Of those, 17 percent were for patients younger than 18 and 7.5 percent were for people 65 and older.

The eight crisis stabilization units in Duval County initiated 9,830 involuntary commitments during that same year, up 70 percent from only four years before.

While some of these involuntarily commitments are appropriate, questions abound regarding the use of the Baker Act.


In fact the act itself, and the problems it illuminates, is drawing fire from mental health advocates.

Many people fear it’s being overused.

And they may be right.

Over the past decade, the number of people Baker Acted statewide has increased by 64 percent.

Others contend such involuntary commitments are often abused and misused as well.


How To Baker Act Someone

This article was co-authored by Clinton M. Sandvick, JD, PhD. Clinton M. Sandvick worked as a civil litigator in California for over 7 years. He received his JD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998 and his PhD in American History from the University of Oregon in 2013.There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 304,266 times.

To Baker Act someone means that you initiate the process for an involuntary and emergency psychiatric examination of a person with a mental illness at a Florida hospital or crisis unit. This refers to a specific Florida law and it only applies to proceedings within the state of Florida. Other states have their own rules and proceedings concerning involuntary psychiatric care.

Editorial L Baker Act Facility Needs Dementia Patient Care Provisions

THE ISSUE:Local dementia care advocate suggests dementia-specific model for Baker Act facility.

OUR OPINION:Listen to Debbie Selsavage she is an expert.

Get more from the Citrus County Chronicle

Mental health care is delicate.

Few know the fragility of and compassion needed in such care quite like Debbie Selsavage, Citrus Countys own top dementia care advocate and expert.

Selsavage, a certified trainer and consultant, and a dementia practitioner who formed Coping with Dementia LLC after the journey of caring for her late husband, Albert, recently made a plea to the county to get its proposed Baker Act facility right with proactive provisions for those taken in with dementia and Alzheimers.

Drawing on her own experiences with her husbands dementia , she urges the county to make careful considerations when preparing to intake dementia and Alzheimers patients into Baker Act care.

Everyone involved with the eventual construction and staffing of a Baker Act facility would be wise to embrace Selsavages plea. She is right and her suggestions are smart.

Her plan also includes dementia-specific training sessions for Baker Act facility staff and first responders to learn how to identify and interpret dementia behaviors, and how to respond appropriately and effectively.

She envisions Citrus County as a model for compassionate and enlightened treatment, and the Board of County Commissioners and Lifestream would be astute to take advantage of her consultancy.

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Voluntary Baker Act Admissions

The Baker Act also allows for adults to voluntarily apply for temporary institutionalization at a facility. This voluntary admission can also be used by parents who want to have their minor children examined at such a facility. Once there, the patient will be examined by facility personnel, and an assessment will be made of his or her mental health and potential for harming self or others. When the problem can be attributed to something other than psychiatric concerns, the patient will often be released. In cases where mental health issues require intervention, a treatment plan will be developed.

Thought these types of admissions are technically voluntary, patients should understand that they may be detained at the facility for up to 24 hours after they request to leave. That delay is required to provide facility personnel with the time they need to determine whether an involuntary examination or treatment is required. In cases where that intervention is believed to be necessary, the facility has two days to file a petition asking the court to involuntarily commit the patient.

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Can Baker Act Patients Refuse Treatment

elaine baker (@elainebaker1)

Can a Baker Act be applied to substance abuse?

Also, if a loved one has a substance abuse problem as opposed to a mental condition, the Baker Act does not apply. As mentioned previously, Floridas Marchman Act should be considered. Conditions which merely produce antisocial behavior are also not a part of the Baker Acts mental illness definition.

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How To Baker Act Someone In Florida

Parties that can enforce a Baker Act in Florida include the court and law enforcement, medical professionals, and mental health professionals. If youre concerned for the safety of a friend or family member and feel a Baker Act is necessary to evaluate their mental health you have a few options.

First, if a person is actively showing signs of severe mental illness, threatening to hurt themself or others, or appears detached from reality, calling the police will initiate the process of having that person Baker Acted immediately.

Alternatively, you could ask the court to have a persons mental health evaluated by filing a petition. In this case, you would need to provide a written statement that documents the details of the mental illness and the reasons for a Florida Baker Act. You can do this at the countys Clerk of Court office .

It is in the best interest of both parties if the person filing the petition takes the time to find the best mental health hospital and Baker Act-receiving facility to ensure that the transition into treatment is as smooth as possible.

Florida Baker Act Criteria

In order to temporarily commit someone to a mental hospital they must meet the following criteria:

  • The person is mentally ill .
  • The person refuses a voluntary mental health evaluation or doesnt understand why one would be necessary.
  • The person is a threat to themself or others, or the person is incapable of caring for themself.

A person may also choose to a voluntary Baker Act, but they must be willing and able to consent to treatment.

Behaviors that Indicate a Mental Health Crisis

In general, behaviors that can be considered indications of a mental emergency include the following:

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Approach To Treating A Dementia Patient With Behavioral Disturbances

An Algorithm for the Management of Behavioral Disturbances in Dementia Patients

Activities should be matched with the patient’s primary needs for social contact and meaningful and challenging activity. Information regarding preferred activities can be obtained from close relatives. It is also important for patients to maintain the sense of identity they may have found through work and family roles. Current sensory and cognitive abilities, as well as the person’s ability to comprehend, respond to, and process information, should also be considered. Augmentation of sensory abilities should be simple, such as securing better-fitting eyeglasses, an auditory amplifier, or better-fitting hearing aids. Fitting patients with hearing devices can result in significant decreases in inappropriate behaviors.31,32

Assessing the underlying need is critical. Carefully listening to a demented patient even when the information is not clear frequently yields positive results. The patient may say that it is cold outside or that the place is wet, when they mean that they are cold or wet. The caregiver should be sure that the dementia patient can see them during a conversation. Observing the patient for few minutes over several days and listening to any verbalizations can be very informative. Information about changes in behavior and affect and probable causes of discomfort can be provided by the caregivers.

What Is The Baker Act

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The Baker Act is an existing law that provides for temporary institutionalization of individuals who meet certain criteria. It can only be used by specific authorized persons, including judges, mental health professionals, law enforcement personnel, and doctors. More importantly, the law is limited by the fact that those officials must have sound evidence suggesting that the individual might meet the Acts definition for mental illness. In addition, he must pose a risk of harm to himself or others or demonstrate self-neglect.

It should be noted that the statutory criteria require more than mere suspicion of mental illness or potential risk. The statute specifically calls for substantial evidence, which is much higher bar than simple suspicion. As a result, people cannot be involuntarily institutionalized simply because theyre acting strangely, refuse to seek psychiatric examinations, or have occasional mood swings or outbursts.

There must be ample evidence of possible mental illness, coupled with a strong potential for harm to self or others. Typically, that requires some sort of recent behavior that suggests a serious risk.

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What Is It Like To Be Baker Acted

No matter which of the three methods are used, it all starts with the person being picked up by a law enforcement officer. That is, unless a person is already in a receiving facility. For example, if a hospital serves a receiving facility and the person goes to the ER for care, whether related or unrelated to mental illness. The attending physician may determine that the person meets the criteria for the Baker Act and hold the person at the facility.

If the person is picked up by an officer, they will be taken one of three places:

  • Hospital Emergency Room If the officer determines that the individual is experiencing a medical emergency , he may take them to a hospital emergency room. This hospital may or may not be a receiving facility for the Baker Act. Within 72 hours, a receiving facility must examine the person, unless the person is documented to have an emergency medical condition by the attending physician. Twelve hours after documentation that the person no longer has a medical condition or that the condition is stabilized, the person can be examined by either a physician or clinical psychologist at the hospital or a designated receiving facility and either be released or transferred to voluntary status. Or, the person can be transferred to a receiving facility where medical treatment needed is available. The transfer to a Baker Act receiving facility must be done within 12 hours of stabilization of the condition.
  • During the examination, the professional will:

    Ideas To Help A Person With Dementia To Enjoy Bakingdementia Together Magazine

    Baking can be a good way for people to get involved in the kitchen, even as dementia progresses.

    Whether for seasoned bakers or those trying it out for the first time, making bread, cakes, biscuits or pies is a great way to get involved in the kitchen. It can also help maintain skills as dementia progresses.

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    How Long Does It Last

    The involuntary commitment length of stay also varies by state. For example, in Pennsylvania, hospital staff cannot keep people admitted under an involuntary commitment for more than 120 hours. Lengths are predetermined by each state and set to a minimum to keep from infringing on the rights of the person being committed. Theyre also standardized, and hospital staff can propose extended stays based on the needs of the individual.

    How Does The Marchman Act Work In Florida

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    The Marchman Act is focused on the individuals relationship with self-control and the potential for violence as related to alcohol or substance abuse. The Florida Department of Children states that in order for the Marchman Act to be invoked, an individual must meet the following criteria:

    • Has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance use AND:
    • Has inflicted, or threatened or attempted to inflict, or unless is admitted to inflicting, physical harm on himself or herself or another OR:
    • Is in need of substance abuse services and, by reason of substance abuse impairment, his or her judgment has been so impaired that the person is incapable of appreciating his or her need for such services and of making a rational decision in regard thereto.

    The Marchman Act requires significant effort on behalf of the person seeking help for their loved one. If you are looking to invoke the Marchman Act on a loved one, these are the steps you need to take in order to do so:

    • File a petition for involuntary treatment in the county court where the person resides
    • File that petition in good faith and as a person, the court recognizes to do so
    • You must believe and/or have direct information that the user does not have power of self-control and is likely to harm themselves or others
    • You must provide evidence that the user cannot make rational decisions for him/herself

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    States With Involuntary Commitment Laws For Substance Abuse Disorder Only

    One state has involuntary commitment for substance abuse disorders only. If someone is intoxicated or endangering themselves and others due to substance use, excluding alcohol use, concerned people could ask for involuntary substance abuse treatment. Currently, Vermont is the only state that permits this level of commitment.

    What Happens When You Baker Act Someone

    What is it? | How it works | The Process | Voluntary Admission | What happens afterward?

    Mental health issues are often difficult for society to manage, especially in situations where troubled individuals refuse to seek the help they might need. This can be particularly problematic in cases where someone with a possible mental illness is believed to be a potential threat to himself or others. Some jurisdictions have attempted to cope with those concerns through legislation that allows involuntary institutionalization for mental health examination. The Florida Mental Health Act of 1971 otherwise known as the Baker Act provides certain persons with the power to temporarily send potentially troubled individuals to mental health institutions.

    But what happens when you Baker Act someone?

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    Dual Diagnosis Treatment In Port St Lucie Florida

    The Port St. Lucie Hospital is one of the dual diagnosis residential treatment centers in Florida that offers inpatient mental health and addiction treatment at the same time. As a Baker Act-receiving facility, we also offer crisis care for those suffering from acute psychiatric distress. The facility also offers medical detox services, which means that the multidisciplinary staff can treat a patient from crisis care admission to detox, to mental health and addiction treatment completion.

    In addition to these services, the Port St. Lucie hospital also offers adult and senior mental health programs, and a partial hospitalization program. Each of these programs can be tailored to individual patient needs.

    We welcome you to our facility. From Baker Acts to dual diagnosis, support groups, and individual therapy treatment options, we are here to fight the battle with you. Reach out to us online today, or call us at .

    No One Wants To Involuntarily Commit Their Loved One To Mental Health Treatment But It Can Be Comforting To Know Options Exist During Dangerous Situations

    Dementia Caregiving Verbal or Physical Outbursts

    Seeing a loved one struggle with the damaging influence of substance use and other mental health disorders can be frustrating and confusing. Often, people hope to encourage a positive change, but they feel helpless.

    Though the situation is complex, there are options one may employ to connect their friend or family member to the type of help they need. In some cases, pursuing an involuntary mental health commitment or an involuntary civil commitment could be the decision that changes a loved ones life forever.

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    Baker Acting Someone In Florida: Involuntary Mental Health Treatment

    If your loved one is suffering from severe mental health issues and refuses to accept treatment, you might be considering utilizing The Baker Act. Watching your loved one struggle with mental health and become a danger to themselves is extremely devastating. Baker Acting someone in Florida is a confusing process, however, it is often the only option for people worried about their loved ones.

    At CWC Recovery, we understand the complex nature of mental health, allowing us to provide effective mental health treatment and promote recovery for our patients. If your loved one has been Baker Acted and has been required to attend an inpatient or outpatient mental health facility, look no further. CWC Recovery is here to help. Give us a call today for more information on The Baker Act, how it works, and how we can help.

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    How Often Are Senior Citizens Baker Acted

    The statistics show that a larger percentage of senior citizens are being Baker Acted year after year. Currently:

    · Miami-Dade has about 27,000 involuntary examinations.Of these, 10% are older adults

    · Broward has about 13,000 involuntary examinations. Roughly 6% are older adults.

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    Brendan Moss Press Secretary Governor’s Office


    WALTHAMGovernor Baker was joined by members of the Administration, Legislature and healthy aging community today at the ceremonial signing of H.4116 An Act relative to Alzheimers and related dementias in the Commonwealth during an event at the Alzheimers Association in Waltham.

    Raising awareness about Alzheimers and dementia is key to supporting the Massachusetts families who are impacted by this horrible disease, said Governor Baker. This legislation will enhance efforts to train front line caregivers on recognizing and treating dementia more effectively, and work with families of loved ones to prepare and manage the effects of Alzheimers.

    There are cities and towns all across Massachusetts that are joining the Age and Dementia Friendly movement and I am proud of the work we have accomplished so far, said Lieutenant Governor Polito. Over 100 communities across the Commonwealth are currently pursuing improvements in their physical and social environments and policies to ensure they are great places for residents to grow up and grow old together.

    This important legislation acknowledges that Alzheimers and other dementia affects not just individuals but communities and families, said Senate President Karen E. Spilka. As someone who has been affected personally by Alzheimers and dementia in my family, I am grateful for this comprehensive approach.

    Summary of the Alzheimers and Related Dementias Law

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