Signs that a Nursing Home is Being Negligent

elder neglectWe’ve always been told to “respect our elders”, but looking at the news and hearing the horrific stories of elder abuse, it’s clear that not everyone holds elders in high regards.  Elderly individuals, over the age of 60, are at higher risk for maltreatment and such elderly neglect takes place everywhere, but most often in the nursing home setting.  In nursing homes, residents are vulnerable as they often rely on others (such as nursing aides) to assist them with everyday living.  Unfortunately, many elders are physically, mentally, sexually, financially exploited, making them victims of a large and sometimes “silent” problem, elder abuse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 500,000 older adults (aged 60 +), in the U.S., are believed to be abused or neglected each year.  However, the startling and overwhelming statistics are most likely underestimated due to the number of elder abuse that is not reported.  Like many abuse victims, many elders are unable or afraid to report the abuse to police, family, friends, or others who can protect them.  Family and friends who have a loved one in a nursing home facility should stay involved, informed, and be on the lookout for any suspicious behavior in either the resident or a worker.

Warning Signs of Elder Abuse in a Nursing Home

When visiting a friend or family member in a nursing home pay attention to the way he/she looks and acts.  If you suspect elder abuse, report it.  Protect seniors by bringing suspected abuse to the attention of the appropriate authorities such as a local adult protective services agency.  Many people are afraid to report suspected abuse because they fear they might be wrong, but if you don’t report suspicious activity, your elderly loved one could continue to be abused and in worse cases, die because of the abuse.  Take action and report if you see, hear, or suspect the warning signs of neglect in a nursing home:

–          Your loved one might be Financially exploited if:

  • He/she has a lack of affordable amenities and comforts in their room.
  • Uncharacteristic or excessive giving of gifts or financial reimbursement for care and companionship.
  • The victim is not getting proper care to fulfill needs, even if money is available for such costs.
  • Has made legal or monetary transactions, but does not understand what they mean.

 

–          Your loved one may be a victim of physical or emotional abuse if he/she:

  • Has inadequately explained fractures, bruises, welts, cuts, sores, or burns
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior, such as withdrawal from normal activities, or unexplained changes in alertness
  • Caregiver is verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling, or uncaring

 

–          Your loved elder may be a victim of overall Neglect if he/she:

  • Lack of basic hygiene or appropriate clothing
  • Lack of food and basic needs
  • Lack of medical aids such as glasses, dentures, medication, hearing aids.
  • An individual with dementia is left unsupervised
  • An individual confined in bed is lacking care
  • The room is cluttered or dirty or in need of repairs and lacks amenities
  • Untreated bed sores or pressure ulcers (indication of lack of care)

Elder abuse and neglect in a nursing home affects thousands of innocent senior citizens each year.  Many suffer in silence because they are unable to communicate and they live in fear.  Be the voice for neglected elders.  Respect your elders; don’t turn your back on them.

 

The Best Nursing Homes in the U.S.

nursing home careEach year, the U.S. News and World Report gathers a list of the best nursing homes around the country. A total of 39 facilities made the cut in 2012, representing the top-notch homes around the nation.  One in seven Americans will spend time in a nursing home this year. This country has approximately 16,000 different facilities around the country, and the U.S. News and World Report uses government analysis to name the best homes. Choosing a home for your loved one is a difficult and emotionally-charged decision and one that should be made carefully.

What’s In A Good Nursing Home?

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services set the standards for nursing home facilities around the country and evaluate them on an annual basis. The government considers any facility with 24-hour nursing care and medical services to be a nursing home. State agencies carry out regular inspections of the facilities, and that data is transmitted to the CMS.

Ranking Nursing Homes

CMS ranks nursing homes between 1 and 5 stars. In addition to the state-level inspections, homes are evaluated on their ability to provide enough nurses for the population inside the nursing home, health inspection reports, and the quality of care administered at the facility.  The U.S. News and World Report data breaks down from this award of five stars to share more information about the quality at each facility. To receive a perfect score of 15, a home must have received a 5 from CMS and scores of 5 in each of the underlying elements mentioned above. Those homes with a perfect score make up the top tier.

  • Nurse staffing levels: The CMS evaluates this data by looking at the average number of nurses available for the patients on a daily basis. This includes registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, and certified nurse aides.
  • Health inspections: All nursing homes are required to accept Medicaid and Medicare patients, so CMS conducts health inspections every 12 to 15 months. In addition, any health-related complaints from residents are fully explored by CMS on a regular basis.
  • Care quality: Nursing homes are required by CMS to produce clinical data going back three quarters showing the history of all Medicare and Medicaid patients.  These data reports include any actions taken by the staff to physically restrain an individual as well are more general information, like chronic health issues.

 

How To Find a Top Nursing Home

The U.S. News and World Report site is very helpful in breaking down the best nursing homes around the country and also finding the best facilities by state. Location is important when choosing a home, and the detail collected in these reports can help you avoid facilities that are known for nursing home neglect. Combine this data with research of your own about each facility to find the best place for your loved one.

What Is a Vulnerable Adult and How Do We Protect Them?

Vulnerable adults are people older than eighteen years of age who need a caregiver, and who are unable to protect themselves or look after themselves. Vulnerable adults include elderly people in nursing homes, people who are sick or frail, people with memory problems, or people who have difficulty communicating with others. Individuals with physical or mental disabilities are also classified as vulnerable adults. Unfortunately, because these individuals need care and are unable to look after themselves, they are at greater risk of abuse. Read on for more information regarding vulnerable adults and how we can protect them.

Why Are Vulnerable Adults Targets for Abuse?

Unfortunately, there are many reasons why vulnerable adults are the victims of abuse. Violence toward vulnerable adults can be a single outburst, or it can be a premeditated attack. Sometimes vulnerable adults are targeted for abuse because caregivers are frustrated at the adult’s inability to communicate or inability to act “normal.” Lack of knowledge or training by health professionals working in nursing homes, hospitals or residential homes can result in violence, as professionals are not taught how to appropriately deal with this frustration.

While poor management and inadequate training can result in abuse toward vulnerable adults, sometimes violence can result simply because caregivers have a violent history. Caregivers are not always health professionals, and therefore training in how to appropriately help vulnerable adults is not required.

What Are the Signs of Abuse Toward a Vulnerable Adult?

Some vulnerable adults, especially elderly individuals, may be reluctant to speak out about the abuse they are suffering from. They might excuse their bruises as being “nothing.” Having injuries and not fully explaining where they came from can be a sign of abuse. Unexplained physical symptoms, such as bruising or scarring, can be explained by abuse. The appearance of the vulnerable adult might also change: they might look dirtier or thinner than before due to improper care or neglect.

Also keep an eye out for behavioral changes. A vulnerable adult who is suffering from abuse or violence might become withdrawn, quiet or depressed. However, behavioral changes on the other end of the spectrum are also possible; a vulnerable adult might become inexplicably angry or aggressive. Not wanting to be alone with certain individuals is also a red flag.

How Do We Protect Vulnerable Adults?

There are several ways to protect vulnerable adults. The most effective way to help and protect vulnerable adults is never to ignore signs of abuse and never to shrug them off as nothing. If you are suspicious, ask questions. It’s best to speak with the vulnerable adult in private. If your suspicions of abuse are confirmed, you can either call a General Practitioner or you can speak with a social worker. Depending on the nature of the abuse, you might even want to get the police involved, as abuse toward a vulnerable adult can be a crime. Additionally, help lines and help from Adult Protective Services are available specifically for these instances.

Vulnerable adults are most at risk for abuse and violence, and because of this they need to be protected. If you suspect that a vulnerable adult you know has been abused or neglected in some way, speak with them and figure out how you can help them. Don’t ignore the situation, but speak out so something can be done to protect them.

If you have evidence that a loved one is being abused, report it to the police immediately, and seek legal counsel to represent the case.  Hughes & Coleman, Injury Lawyers are nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys located in Kentucky.  For more information about nursing home abuse and neglect, visit the website at www.NursingHomeNeglectLawyers.com.

Ensuring Optimal Nursing Home Care for Your Loved One

Elder CareTransitioning an elderly family member into a long-term care facility can be a stressful and emotional process. Doing your homework on where your family member will be residing will help you to make an informed decision on the best residence and care for your loved one. The most obvious concern of having a loved one in a nursing home is the potential for abuse.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), elder abuse is defined as any intentional abusive act or negligence by a caregiver or other trusted individual. There are many types of elder abuse including physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, and financial. The NCEA estimates that for every one case of elder abuse that is reported, at least five go unreported. In 2010, the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman investigated over 211,937 complaints.

In order to ensure the most comfortable and enjoyable experience for your family member while residing at a nursing home, consider the following as part of your planning.

Geographic Region-

How many nursing homes are available in your area? What will be the distance to travel for family members who will be visiting regularly? Of the nursing homes available, what are the differences and similarities between them?

Comparison-

Once you have a list of the possible care facilities, you should contact them to get specific information about their policies and procedures, and standards of operation (such as staffing levels and licensure).  The care facilities you’re considering will likely vary greatly in size. In what type of environment would your loved one feel most comfortable?  A visit to each facility you’re considering should be made. It may be best to schedule a visit ahead of time to ensure staff members are available to meet with you, to provide a tour, and to answer any questions you have. You may want to keep a notebook to write down questions you have prior to the visits and also to record the answers you receive. You can also use this checklist to assist you with recording the information.

There are many on-line tools you can use to find and compare nursing homes in your area.  Among them, the Nursing Home Compare tool is perhaps the most comprehensive. Upon searching each nursing home you’re considering, you will be provided with information about how that facility ranks in the areas of staffing, health inspections, and overall quality.

Insurance-

 What level of care will your insurance cover? Will there be out-of-pocket expenses associated? Be sure to get detailed information about the prices of all care facilities you’re considering. If planning for care for a loved one, you will need to assess his/her financial situation to determine that adequate funds are available if out-of-pocket expenses are expected.

Special Considerations-

Does your family member have any specific medical conditions that would require care above and beyond what is offered at the facilities you’re considering?  If so, make sure to inquire about their willingness and ability to make accommodations. Would there be extra costs associated with accommodations? For example, if your family member suffers from Alzheimer’s or has dementia; you may want to consider facilities that have some type of memory care unit.

What are your family members specific religious/spiritual needs? Are there services available to meet those needs? If not, can accommodations be made?

What level of family involvement is acceptable? Some facilities may have limited visiting hours or may only allow a certain number of visitors each week or day. Some families are able to have very regular contact and to be involved in the daily care of their family member. If so, make sure that level of involvement will be supported by the care team. On the other hand, if the family members are unable to be involved regularly due to geographic distance or other limitations, make sure that is communicated and supported as well.

If you or a loved one is the unfortunate victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, it is crucial to seek legal representation.  Hughes & Coleman is a nursing home neglect and injury law firm located in Kentucky. For more information visit the website www.NursingHomeNeglectlawyers.com.