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.

Signs Your Loved One Might Be the Victim of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

nursing home neglectEvery person wishes they were in the situation where they could care for their parent when it is needed, but the truth is that most people just don’t have the time or the resources to do so. Because of this there is a large industry that caters toward caring for elderly patients who need constant observation or have pressing medical needs. Wherever there is a large industry in a certain field there will be people who pop up to exploit it, not caring for their paying clients and working only to make a quick buck. If you’re not careful, you may accidentally leave your loved one in the care of somebody who will exploit, mistreat or physically injure them. But how can you tell if your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse? Here are some common symptoms.

Signs of Physical Abuse on an Elderly Patient

Anybody who has been around an elderly family member knows that sometimes they don’t want to be a bother, so they keep their lips shut about things they should discuss. This is true with nursing home abuse as well, especially when there is a lingering threat from the guilty party. Physical abuse can sometimes be easy to spot. Most symptoms will appear on the arms or legs, the areas where they will be grabbed or thrown from. Look for bruises, cuts, and scrapes, and keep an eye on whether or not they choose to wear long sleeved shirts whenever you visit. This can be a sign that they are trying to cover up the nursing home abuse. Even if you suspect there might be abuse, but do not have proof you can still ask for help confidentially.

Signs of Neglect to an Elderly Patient

What’s even worse than physical abuse is nursing home neglect. Elderly patients need constant care and even the tiniest of slip-ups could lead to a serious medical issue. Look for bedsores – they are signs that your loved one is spending too much time in their bed. Bedsores may indicate that nursing home staff members are not checking in on patients regularly. Dehydration and malnutrition are two major forms of nursing home neglect. If your loved one is always thirsty when you visit or seems very lethargic or pale then it may mean that they are not receiving proper meals.

Why is This Treatment Common in Nursing Homes?

Nursing home employees tend to be divided into two different categories of people: workers who have decided to dedicate their lives to this field and educated themselves, and uneducated people who needed any job they could get and took one at a nursing home. The former group tends to be higher paid and find work at more expensive nursing homes, while cheaper nursing homes in lower income areas don’t try as hard to find competent employees. This leads to a hiring process that is less than adequate, which is why it’s very important to do proper research before making the decision to put your loved one in a care facility or nursing home.

Nursing home abuse and neglect is a very difficult subject to discuss with a loved one. Many elderly people become embarrassed because they can’t physically defend themselves. This feeling of hopelessness is one major reason these forms of attacks are not reported. Bring up the topic carefully but let them know to be honest with you. Nursing home abuse and neglect needs to be reported so that the guilty parties can be punished.

If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected, report it immediately and seek the help of an experience legal professional.  Mariano Morales Law is composed of a team of nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers located in Yakima, Washington.  For more information about the abuse and neglect of elders, visit the website at www.MarianoMoralesLaw.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.

Nursing Home Neglect: Numbers and Facts

Nursing HomeAccording to statistics from The American Association for Justice, a shocking 90 percent of nursing homes in the United States do not employ a sufficient number of qualified care professionals to provide an acceptable level of care for their residents. In addition, it is estimated that approximately 93 percent of all instances of abuse and neglect within nursing homes go unreported each year. These numbers serve to further support the need for more consistent regulations, improved monitoring and more stringently enforced legal repercussions for neglectful and abusive nursing home staff.

What Constitutes Nursing Home Neglect?

When many people consider the notion of neglect in a nursing home, they typically think of failure to address residents’ pain or cries for help, forgetfulness regarding medications, or simple disregard for residents’ well being in general. While these are certainly significant causes for concern, the issues that plague the nursing home industry are far more numerous and, in many cases, even more serious.

HelpGuide.org reports that negligence accounts for “more than half” of abuse cases reported in nursing homes in the United States. Negligence encompasses all forms of elder abuse that are determined to be the result of intentional or passive abandonment of duty regarding care. When a nursing home staff member intentionally denies a resident adequate care for any reason whatsoever, that resident has claim to compensation for negligence. If, for example, a nursing home patient’s condition or conditions become noticeably worse due to a lack of proper care, that patient and his or her family is entitled to their inalienable right to justice. If, however, no official complaint or report of negligence is filed, victims and their loved ones are left to endure the circumstances without assistance.

Signs of Nursing Home Neglect and Elder Abuse

Neglect and abuse that takes place within a nursing home setting can take many forms. Even if the victim of the abusive behavior is not able to speak up and make a stand against his or her caregivers, concerned family members can take steps to correcting the situation through careful observation and consistent monitoring of activity that occurs.

Some of the most common forms of elderly neglect in nursing home facilities include the following:

  • Isolation – In order to punish a resident for any action that the staff sees as undesirable, inhumane acts of isolation have occurred. This includes keeping the elderly resident locked within his or her small room away from other residents, even during community hours. The emotional and mental toll that this can have on an elderly person can prove extremely serious and detrimental to overall health.
  • Ignoring – Ignoring the emotional and physical health needs of a resident can include everything from simply pretending the individual does not exist, even while the staff member is present in the room, to choosing to forgo medication dosages and changing of linens or clothing.
  • Emotional Abuse – During a period in their lives in which they are away from family and friends for the majority of the time, elderly residents in nursing homes require regular interaction, conversation and emotional stimulation in order to stay happy and healthy in their later years. Staff members who consistently speak in harsh tones or with profane language to their charges can cause significant psychological damage over time, leading to a potential decline in health in their residents.

Family members who notice signs of abuse in their elderly relatives are advised to report any suspicious activity immediately and to seek out legal counsel in order to determine an effective course of action that aims to solve the problem and repair any damage sustained.

Hughes & Coleman is nursing home neglect and injury law firm located in Kentucky.  For more information, please visit www.nursinghomeneglectlawyers.com.

Choosing the Right Nursing Home for Your Loved One

Nursing HomeIt’s never easy to decide when to move a loved one into a nursing home or permanent care facility. It will probably be one of the hardest decisions you will make in your lifetime. After you sit down and decide that the best thing for your loved one is to be in a place where they can be surrounded by others and have the care
and supervision they need, then it is time to try and figure out what nursing home will be the best for them. There are many things that need to be considered when choosing a nursing home, especially considering this will be the place that your loved one spends the rest of their life. To further complicate matters nursing homes are far from equal in terms of providing the care your  loved one deserves. Instances of neglect and abuse in nursing homes are not uncommon and over 20,000 complaints of abuse in retirement homes are reported each year.

 Make an Unscheduled In-Person Visit to Inspect the Facility

The easiest way to cross a nursing home off of your list is to visit the facility in person and inspect it yourself. This can be difficult, as the staff tends to be on their best behavior when a prospective client is taking a tour. There is a way around this for you to see what the conditions are really like, and that’s by dropping by unannounced to visit. By not giving them any advanced notice you can see what the place will be like while your loved one is living there. The best time to do this is on the weekend, when the facility does not have as many staff working, and during meal times, when interaction is the most important. If you see staffers ignoring tenants then it’s probably fair to assume they will treat your loved one the same way.

 Remember the Needs of Your Loved One are More Important than Your Own

The most important thing about choosing a nursing home is remembering that you are not going to be the one who will be living there. It becomes easy to confuse your own preferences with the needs of your loved one, choosing amenities in a nursing home that you may find appealing but that may not suit your loved one. Make sure you communicate with your family and really listen to their needs so that you can find a nursing home that has the features that will make them happy.

 Research the Quality of Different Nursing Homes in All 50 States

A little bit of research can go a long way and there is no better resource for looking into nursing homes than www.MediCare.gov’s nursing home comparison system that gives 5-star rankings to nursing homes across the country. This allows users to narrow down their results by searching for different features and facilities. While written reviews of different nursing homes can be easily found across the Internet giving firsthand accounts of quality, Medicare’s nursing home rankings are a good way of seeing the overall quality of a permanent care facility.

Once the decision to move a loved one into a nursing home is made, you need to take your time and make sure you choose a place that works for everybody. There are other factors that need to be considered as well, such as the location of the home and how often they allow visitors. If your loved one needs medical care, they will need a home that is capable of providing them with the personal attention they need. If they are fit and active they will need a home that provides regular activities so that they can maintain their level of fitness. Choosing a nursing home isn’t easy, but with open communication between you and your loved one you can make a decision that works for everybody.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect you may have a nursing home injury case.  For information about elderly abuse or neglect, visit the website of the Louthian Law Firm, P.A., a nursing home injury law firm located in Columbia, South Carolina at www.LouthianLaw.com.