Nursing Home Abuse

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NURSING HOME ABUSE

In 2016 many of us are reaching the “golden years” and with it has come a resurgence of interest in finding new ways of improving the quality of eldercare in the nearly 22,000 “for-profit” nursing homes spread out across the country. These for-profit nursing homes care for as many as two million senior residents.

Rating System

In 2008, the federal government through state and federal health inspection surveys developed a “quality of care” rating system that reviews and grades the quality of elder care among nursing homes throughout the country and ranks them accordingly. Using a five star rating system, over twenty five percent of the nursing home facilities reviewed and ranked, received just one star – the lowest rating possible. This statistic is particularly disconcerting to nearly sixty percent of the babyboomers who are expected to receive some form of long-term care by the time they reach the age of 75.

One of the major purposes of the rating system is to keep consumers and their families informed and warned of certain nursing homes that have documented allegations of abuse. There has been a wide range of reported abuse, also known as deficiencies, relating to unsanitary conditions and the mismanagement of resident nutritional and personal hygiene needs, to actual mental and physical abuse of residents.

Nearly half of all nursing homes in the country have been cited for incidents involving documented abuse. Furthermore, it was noted that nonprofit facilities have been consistently outperforming for-profit facilities by a significant margin.

Types Of Physical And Mental Elder Abuse

Reported physical abuse ranges from ignoring residents bedsores to pushing and shoving of residents, to all out physical beatings. There have even been documented reports of residents being physically burned by staff. There are also documented cases of mental abuse. Among the types of mental abuse residents are forced to endure includes verbal threats, degradation and daily humiliation.

One of many reasons abuse is so rampant in nursing homes is that many of them fail to conduct adequate background checks on the people they hire.  Another reason is that nursing homes are notorious for understaffing and for not adequately supervising their employees.

With respect to abuse in the actual care of the resident by staff, the most frequently sited deficiency is resident dehydration and malnutrition. This is particularly troubling when we consider that nearly fifty-percent of nursing home residents require assistance with both eating and drinking.

Legal Responsibility For Abuse

There are a variety of ways nursing homes can be held legally responsible for the harm suffered by residents. Nursing homes can and do regularly face both civil actions and criminal penalties for their harmful conduct and neglect. These legal actions are reported, documented and become part of the nursing homes history and overall rating.

For those interested in comparing nursing home rankings, consider visiting www.medicare.gov.

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