Nursing Home Abuse Happens…Know What to Do
Written by Jeff Meyer on July 25, 2015
A recent news story from Ohio shows the frequency of nursing home abuse, but also that awareness of it has been increasing and that the guilty are no longer going unpunished. In the Ohio case, a worker who hit and dragged a 76 year-old patient will be spending from three months to a year in prison for the act.
It is also likely that this person’s records will indicate that they have a history of abusing the elderly and disabled. This will, hopefully, prevent the man from ever working within a vulnerable population again. However, it is up to the nursing homes and long-term care facilities to ensure that he is never put into a position where he can do harm.
Unfortunately, not all nursing homes use appropriate screening methods or give attention to a negative record. This is why all of the facilities that receive funding through Medicare and Medicaid are subject to annual inspections and reporting, and why all of that data is made available to the public.
The Medicare.gov “Nursing Home Compare” website allows you to punch in the name or location of a nursing home and to review its entire history. You will be able to obtain general information, but also the results of formal inspections of health and fire safety, staffing, quality measures and penalties. The data can also include state submitted information on top of the federal details.
Using this simple online tool would let you easily determine if a site has made a habit of allowing people like the dangerous man in the news story above to work with their residents.
The Statistics Are Frightening
According to a 2015 report from ABCNews.com, “Reports of serious, physical, sexual and verbal abuse are ‘numerous’ among the nation’s nursing homes.” Citing a congressional report, they described more than 9k instances of abuse over a two-year period, with many causing harm to the individuals in the facilities.
Whether it was bedsores, malnutrition or dehydration, preventable accidents, poor and inadequate hygiene, or inadequate medical care, the discoveries were shocking to some. However, one professional did go on record to say, “Nursing homes are providing the best care they can in a difficult environment.”
By difficult, the ABC report says, the healthcare professional meant difficulty in obtaining the best and most skilled staff. And this correlates with some of the changes put in place in order to meet new Affordable Care Act and the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act.
For example, Rep. Henry Waxman, the minority leader of the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee has introduced a bill that is designed to set minimum staffing limits while also increasing funding. The bill will also increase the amount of Internet disclosure that facilities will provide about their conditions, further enabling potential residents to choose wisely.
In the ABC report, the professionals all advocated for consumer research in advance of choosing any nursing home, long-term care, or even rehab facilities. Exploring the federal reports, the state Department of Health information, and even relying on doctor referrals and word of mouth were all noted as essential steps. Paying a planned as well as a surprise visit to a site is also advisable as this allows you to get an accurate “feel” of the site.
As the news stories still show us, nursing home abuse happens. You can reduce your loved one’s risks of experiencing neglect, theft, or harm when you do the research and locate the facilities with the best records, policies, and settings. If you feel your loved one is being abused or neglected, do not hesitate to contact the authorities, the management, and get in touch with an attorney.
ABCNews.go.com. Elderly Abused at… http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=92689&page=1&singlePage=true
WNEP.com. Man Sentenced…http://wnep.com/2015/07/08/man-sentenced-for-nursing-home-abuse/
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