Most people who have a loved one who is a resident of a nursing home are concerned they may be subjected to abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, we have all heard tragic stories about elderly patients in long-term care facilities being robbed, physically abused, or neglected. If you have a family member in a nursing home, you need to know about protecting them from abuse or mistreatment. Our elder law lawyers are here to listen to your concerns and give you some tips on how to protect them.
What to do if I suspect there may be abuse or neglect
If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you are most likely paying huge fees and expenses in order to provide your loved one with the best long-term care you can. Most of us spend time researching the facilities in the area so you can do your best to choose one that you hope will provide compassionate and skilled nursing care. Unfortunately, despite all of your efforts, there is still a chance that your loved one could be abused or neglected. If you ever suspect neglect or abuse, you should first contact the local authorities including Adult Protective Services. Each county has such an office.
Some nursing homes may be more concerned with profit than patient care
With the rising demand for nursing home and other forms of long-term care, businesses are certainly eager to capitalize on that demand. It is important to remember that nursing homes are businesses and, like all other for-profit businesses, the goal is to make money. Be aware that a nursing home will do its best to persuade you that they offer care and compassion and competent nursing care, but in some instances, those values go out the window once the contract is signed.
What are some of the common issues seen in nursing homes
One of the ways many nursing home businesses save money is by taking shortcuts when it comes to staffing and training. As a result, many of the staff members at nursing homes are less competent than they should be – uneducated and untrained, overworked and underpaid. The nursing staff in those situations often lose patience with the elderly residents because they may be frustrated with their jobs. The patients become undeserving targets. These circumstances can lead to neglect and abuse.
Many nursing homes fail to fully comply with regulations
Another common situation that can lead to neglect and abuse in a nursing home is the failure to comply with state and federal regulations. The health care industry is required to follow certain laws, regulations, and guidelines much like other types of businesses that deal with the public.
Regulations establish requirements such as maintaining a sufficient level of staffing, which depends on the number of patients in residence at a particular nursing home. In homes where there is insufficient staff on duty at any given time, the patients are more likely to suffer from neglect. For instance, if there are several patients who are bed-ridden and require turning or rotating to prevent pressure ulcers, there needs to be sufficient staff to make sure this scheduled care is provided. It is also common for nursing staff to neglect the dietary guidelines required for a particular patient or to inaccurately dispense medication.
Deciding whether to sue the nursing home
In some cases, filing a lawsuit against a nursing home is the only suitable remedy for the abuse and neglect that your loved one may have suffered. In order for neglected and abused patients and their families to be compensated for the pain and suffering they endure, you may need to talk to an elder law litigation attorney about litigation. That may be the only way the nursing home can be held responsible.
Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that not all nursing homes engage are guilty of abuse and neglect. In reality, there are a significant number of long-term care facilities that provide excellent nursing care. So, if you suspect something is wrong, consult with an experienced and qualified elder law litigation attorney to help you to investigate the situation and determine whether a lawsuit is really the next step.
Some alternatives to nursing homes you can consider
Even with the significant number of quality nursing homes out there, most of our elderly loved ones would rather spend the remainder of their lives in their own homes or with family. For some, this may be an option. On the other hand, if there are physical or mental health issues that require continuous medical care you may need to consider some of the alternatives to nursing home care. We can discuss your options with you and help you make a good choice for your family.
Download our FREE estate planning checklist today! If you have questions regarding elder law issues, please us at the Northern California Center for Estate Planning and Elder Law for a consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (916) 437-3500. We are here to help!
- Shrunken Asset Values Open Estate Planning Opportunities - April 9, 2020
- Living Trusts and Incapacity Planning - March 31, 2020
- Estate Planning and Charitable Giving — Key Points - March 29, 2020