Articles Posted in Residents’ Rights

https://www.consumerattorneyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/132/2022/02/Screen-Shot-2022-02-23-at-3.08.42-PM-300x198.pngUnfortunately, elder abuse is a common problem for many elderly adults. It can manifest in many forms, including abandonment. It can happen at home or in a facility. Read on to learn about abandonment in nursing homes.

 
What is Considered Abandonment in a Nursing Home?

Abandonment in general refers to when someone deserts another person or leaves them in a specific place. Specifically, abandonment in a nursing home occurs when a nursing home fails to give the resident the required care that they are obligated to provide.

Did you know that when you place your relative into a nursing home and the facility receives federal funding from sources, such as Medicare, the residents are entitled to specific rights? The rights stem from federal statutes that were enacted back in the 1980s. Read on to learn about important nursing home rights.

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  1. Right to Dignity and Right to Privacy: The right to dignity applies to all humans, but it’s especially significant in the nursing home setting due to the residents’ enhanced vulnerability. No one deserves to be humiliated, mocked, or belittled. And just because someone moves into a nursing home doesn’t mean that they’re no longer entitled to privacy; staff should not listen to private conversations between residents and visitors, read personal messages, rummage through personal belongings, or post resident content to social media without consent.
  2. Right to be Free from Abuse and Neglect: People shouldn’t be verbally harassed, psychologically intimidated, financially taken advantage of, or physically harmed or neglected. Residents enter nursing homes to be cared for and looked after, not abused.

shutterstock_1317668966-300x200If your parent or loved one lives in a nursing home, you need to check in with them to make sure that they are being treated well by the staff. Unfortunately, residents can be subject to abuse and neglect by the very caregivers that are hired to help them. Other times, these caregivers aren’t committing the abuse themselves, but aren’t adequately protecting them from other resident abusers. This raises the question of how nursing home caregivers are responsible when other parties abuse the residents.

While much attention is concentrated on the nursing home staff abusing residents, there are also instances of the residents suffering abuse at the hands of other residents. According to a 2014 study at Cornell University, one in every five nursing home residents had been impacted by a form of resident-on-resident mistreatment during a four-week span. The mistreatment mostly consisted of verbal abuse, but there were also instances of physical and sexual abuse as well.

 What Contributes to Resident-on-Resident Abuse?

shutterstock_16983095711-300x200Placing a loved one in a nursing home can feel like a great solution. You don’t have to worry about them being home alone where they can’t do things for themselves. However, there are many issues to worry about when they do make the transition to a nursing home. One of the unfortunate things that accompanies these living conditions is the high risk of infection. Read on to learn about why this is such a hazardous environment and what nursing homes should be doing to prevent infections.

Risk Factors for Infections in Nursing Homes

There are various reasons why nursing home residents are likely to get infections, including the following:

Village Square Healthcare Center, a nursing home located in San Marcos, California, received 29 citations for health and safety deficiencies in its most recent inspection, on February 14, 2019. According to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services records accessed on February 26, 2020, that figure numbers more than twice the statewide average of 12.8 citations, and more than three times the U.S. average of 8.0. A for-profit corporation owned by GC Holding Company LLC., Highland Springs Care Center is a Medicare and Medicaid participant with 118 certified beds and an average of 117.8 residents at the facility per day. The deficiencies described in the February 2019 citations include the following:

  1. The nursing home did not ensure residents were adequately protected from accidents. Federal code requires nursing homes to maintain a resident environment free of accident hazards and with adequate supervision to prevent accidents. An inspection found that Village Square Healthcare Center did not provide such in two capacities. According to this citation, an inspector observed water temperatures in resident bathroom sinks that exceeded safe levels. The inspector separately observed that a paraplegic resident was not provided with adaptive equipment to call facility staff. The resident stated in an interview that when he calls the facility’s main number using Alexa and his computer, these calls “go to voicemail 50% of the time,” and that he cannot use his soft touch pad call light provided by the facility “because he cannot turn his head enough to use his chin to turn it on.” The resident stated additionally that while he sends text messages to staff when he requires assistance, “in an emergency his only option would be to call 911.” A Certified Nursing Assistant stated in an interview that she did not know how to retrieve voicemails left by the resident, and that the current system for the resident to contact staff “is not safe.”
  1. The nursing home did not implement adequate measures to prevent and control infection. Federal code requires nursing homes to establish and implement infection prevention and control protocols. An inspection determined that Village Square Healthcare Center failed to do so in three capacities. In one, an inspector observed a staff member assisting residents during mealtime without conducting proper hand hygiene between residents. In another, an inspector observed a staffer moving between residents and providing them assistance without conducting proper hand hygiene. In a third, an inspector observed a resident’s urinary catheter drainage bag lying on the facility’s floor, in contravention of policy.

Meadowbrook Health Care Center, a nursing home located in Hemet, California, received 20 citations for health and safety deficiencies in its most recent inspection, on April 20, 2019. According to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services records accessed on February 26, 2020, that figure numbers more than the statewide average of 12.8 citations, and more than U.S. average of 8.0. A for-profit corporation owned by Johnre Care Inc., Meadowbrook Health Care Center is a Medicare and Medicaid participant with 64 certified beds and an average of 48.8 residents at the facility per day. The deficiencies described in the April 2019 citations include the following:

  1. The nursing home did not ensure residents were provided with appropriate treatment. Federal code requires nursing homes to provide residents with “appropriate treatment and care according to orders, resident’s preferences and goals.” An inspection found that Meadowbrook Health Care Center did not provide such in an instance when the facility did not “ensure signs and symptoms of bleeding were monitored” per the plan of care of a resident reviewed for side effects of blood thinner medication. The citation states further that the failure to ensure such “may have contributed” to the resident being sent to the emergency room for rectal bleeding. According to the citation, the resident was receiving an anticoagulant agent to prevent blood clots, and the plan of care stated that they should be monitored for signs and symptoms of excessive anticoagulation. A Licensed Vocational Nurse confirmed to state authorities, however, that “there was no documentation” the resident was being monitored such during the month in question, and “should have been monitored” in the period leading up to the resident being sent to the hospital.
  1. The nursing home did not ensure the competencies of food and nutrition services staff. Federal code requires nursing homes to ensure that its staff have “appropriate competencies and skills sets to carry out the functions of the food and nutrition service.” An inspection found that Meadowbrook Health Care Center failed to ensure its supervisory staff failed to carry out their key functions in an instance wherein the facility’s Dietary Manager and Registered Dietitian “did not provide management and oversight to ensure food was stored, prepared, and served according to facility and industry standards,” as well as that equipment and other food service items were maintained in good working condition. The citation goes on to state specifically that an inspector found that the facility’s RD did not ensure residents were provided with “a comparable in nutrient content alternate” when they requested one instead of the “main entrée.” The inspector also found that the RD did not “report the poor condition” of certain food service items, and that cutting boards and cooking pans were not maintained in good condition. The citation states that these deficiencies resulted in the potential for the facility’s residents to experience “food borne illness and nutritional related health complications.”

Choosing to place yourself or a loved one in a nursing home can be extremely difficult.  Finding the right one is even harder.  A wealth of information exists online and much of it is useful, but this decision should be informed by experience and conversations with the people that matter most as well.

1 – Identify All of Your Options

Go online and find every nursing home in your area.  A great place to identify these facilities is on the medicare.gov website.  Using their Nursing Home Compare feature, you can type in your zip code and quickly compare all of the care facilities in a given radius.  You may have more options than you originally thought!

If you have a loved one in a long-term care nursing home, you know how difficult it can be to visit more than once or twice per week.  You are the eyes and ears of your elderly family member, but who is looking out for them when you are not around?  The Long-Term Ombudsmen of Riverside County do just that.

What Is a Long-Term Care Ombudsman?

In 1978, amendments to the Older Americans Act mandated that each state create an Ombudsman Program.  The Older Californians Act further solidified the funding and presence of the program by supporting the development of the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman (OSLTCO).

Southern California elders – particularly those residing in nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities – are unfortunately prone to developing life-threatening bedsores. Bedsores, which are also known as pressure ulcers, can lead to a host of health problems, particularly in elders whose health may already be compromised. Similarly, because many elders may be confined to a bed or wheelchair, their risk for developing these sores is increased.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

People are at risk of developing pressure sores if they have difficulty moving and are unable to easily change position while seated or in bed. Immobility may be due to:

By law, the staff members employed by California nursing homes are required to report health changes observed in the elders residing in their facilities. Unfortunately, all too often these changes are unreported. The change in condition of a resident may not be reported for a variety of reasons, including fear that the nursing home be may fined for understaffing, or neglecting California elders residing within the facility. In other cases, a resident who has experienced a rapid deterioration in condition, may indicate that isolation, neglect, or even abuse is occurring within a facility.

Failure to report changes in condition to an elder’s doctor and family members is a violation of the law.

Changes in an elder’s condition which must be reported may include, but is not limited to:

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