Like our children, many in our elderly population need our help to make sure they are properly cared for. There are many levels of care for elderly adults. A lower level many include something such as all-inclusive apartment living. This type of facility would likely offer a step up to what is typically called assisted living, where the resident maintains some autonomy, but has an increased level of supervision and care. At the far end of the spectrum is long term nursing home care. The population of the long term nursing home generally consists of chronically ill elderly who have little to no choice in going into such a facility. As a result, these patients are the most vulnerable of all medically needy groups in that they have little to no voice in their care.
Unlike acute care hospitals, which are often not for profit organizations, nursing homes are typically for profit, private institutions. The evolution of nursing homes makes the reasoning for this obvious. Nursing homes sprang up from “mom and pop” operations wherein boarding homes were operated to care for elderly patients. This created a market that is largely for-profit.
Most nursing home residents suffer from chronic (long-term) problems rather than acute (immediate, but temporary) problems. The obvious problem with nursing home care, therefore, becomes a longer length of time within the facility and a continuing need for constant care. Many nursing home residents also require assistance in performing the daily living activities that most of us take for granted, such as dressing, bathing, and toileting. For many of these residents, an unaided trip to the bathroom could easily cause a fatal fall.
The nursing home population typically does not have a direct line of communication outside of the nursing home. Residents often suffer from mental infirmities, which limits their ability to communicate, are often medicated, which limits their pain level and therefore awareness. As a result, residents typically go unrepresented, enabling the neglect or abuse to continue. In these situations, family members are the best watchdogs of a nursing home patient’s well being, security, and rights.
Nursing homes are federally, as well as locally, regulated. The Federal standard for nursing homes, as well as the Patient’s Bill of Rights, can be found in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA), 42 U.S.C. Section 1395-1396. These regulations, along with corresponding state law, create the required standard.
By definition, nursing homes provide a place where residents are served by nursing personnel in the assistance of daily living. Every nursing home must provide:
These regulations force the nursing homes to adjust to the needs of each patient, rather than have the patient adjust to the facility. If the facility does not meet these basic requirements of care, the result can be a problem of neglect throughout the facility that can result in injury or death to the residents. The inability of many residents to communicate the abuse to parties outside the facility often enables the abuse or neglect to continue. This inability comes from many sources, which include, but are not limited to, lack of financial resources, lack of physical capabilities, lack of mental capacity, and other limitations.
There are many types of instances which can be defined as neglect or abuse. These include:
If you or your loved one have experience nursing home abuse and neglect, please do not hesitate to contact us or call toll free at 800.351.3008 for your FREE CONSULTATION. We have handled nursing home abuse and neglect related cases throughout the United States and we look forward to the opportunity to serve your legal needs.
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