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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysAnyone who has placed their parent, grandparent, or loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility can tell you that the transition is not always easy. The first holiday season away from home can be especially difficult for nursing home residents and their families. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, rehabilitation facility, or assisted living facility, and you plan to visit them this holiday season, the following tips may help your visit go more smoothly.

Let the Resident Dictate the Conversation

You may be unsure of how to approach visiting a loved one in a nursing home his holiday season. Should you acknowledge that it is Christmas soon or change the subject? Should you bring up memories from past holidays or focus on the here and now? The answer will depend both on the reason the resident is living in a long-term care facility as well as their personality.

Residents who struggle with cognitive decline due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may not understand or remember that the holidays are near. Other residents will be capable of enjoying long conversations about your holiday plans. Some individuals living in nursing homes do not want to be reminded that they are missing out on holiday traditions. The best course of action may be to simply let the resident dictate the conversation topic. If you sense your loved one is become anxious or agitated by a certain conversation, try changing the subject or giving him or her a break from the stimulation.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneyIf you have a loved one who needs extra help with daily life tasks, you may find that moving him or her to a nursing home or assisted living facility gets them the round-the-clock care they need. Nursing homes are full of residents who have physical and cognitive disabilities. Many of these individuals may use a service animal to help them move about their daily lives safely. Even pets not officially trained as service animals can be a tremendous comfort to those struggling with illness or disability. If your loved one requires care from a nursing home, assisted living, or rehabilitation facility, will he or she be able to bring his or her pet into the long-term care facility? The answer is not always black and white.

Few Nursing Home Allow Animals to Cohabitate with Residents

There are roughly 500,000 service dogs currently at work assisting people in the United States. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gave service animals, most often dogs, access to nearly every location their handler may want to go. The law made service animals exempt from rules which disallow animals from places like schools, movie theatres, or retail stores. Service dogs can be used to help visually impaired people interpret the world around them, alert hearing-impaired people to noises like smoke detectors or alarm clocks, and aide individuals who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices. Some service animals can be trained to alert their handler to an oncoming seizure. Only a select number of long-term care facilities allow animals to live with their owners, but many allow animal visitation.

Bringing Pets to Visit Loved Ones in a Nursing Home May be Beneficial

Research from The Ohio State University in Columbus found that an impressive 99 percent of nursing homes surveyed allowed animal visitation. Healthy dogs, cats, fish, birds, reptiles, and hamsters are permitted in many nursing home facilities across the country. Most experts agree that elderly and disabled individuals can reap tremendous emotional benefits from safely interacting with animals.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have an elderly relative, chances are you often worry about their safety. Older individuals often have decreased muscle mass and bone density. A fall that might only result in minor bruising on a young person may cause several broken bones in an elderly individual. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 3 million elderly individuals are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries every year. More than 95 percent of all hip fractures are caused by falling and falls are the most frequent cause of traumatic brain injuries. Falling injuries resulted in over $50 billion in medical bills in 2015 alone.

Remove Environmental Hazards to Help Prevent Falls

Understandably, all falls cannot be prevented. However, it is the obligation of every caregiver to take steps to prevent elder falls. If you have an elderly loved one, a few environmental changes may decrease the chance that he or she is injured or killed in a fall. Firstly, remove tripping hazards like clutter or loose electrical cords on the floor. Secure loose floor rugs with double-sided tape or remove them entirely. Repair or replace broken furniture or loose floorboards. Install nonslip mats and safety rails in the bathroom. Encourage your loved one to use his or her walker or cane if necessary. Lastly, make sure the lighting is adequate for your loved one to see his or her surroundings clearly.

Nursing Home Falls May Be a Sign of Neglect

Injuries from falling account for about 36 percent of theoretically preventable emergency room visits by nursing home residents. Not every nursing home resident who falls has been neglected. However, an unusual frequency of falls or falls that go unreported may be a sign of nursing home abuse and neglect. Conditions that can cause falls to happen more often include:

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysWhen you are looking at long-term care options for an aging loved one, it is important to review the reputation of each of the facilities that you are considering. You should try to learn how the families of current and past residents feel about the facility, as well as any available ratings published by reputable sources. According to a recent study, you should also consider whether the facility is a for-profit business or a nonprofit entity because residents of for-profit facilities tend to receive a much lower quality of care.

Illinois-Based Research

The study was conducted by a team led by Lee Friedman, an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The team looked at data regarding nearly 1,150 patients who received treatment at five Chicago-area hospitals between 2007 and 2011 for health concerns that might have been linked to previous substandard care. All of the patients were either residents of for-profit or nonprofit nursing homes or community-dwelling patients who lived in private homes with the assistance of family, friends, or home-based nurses.

Sad Results

According to the study’s findings, residents of for-profit nursing facilities were twice as likely to experience medical problems related to poor care than those in nonprofit centers. Community-dwelling patients experienced the fewest problems. Friedman said that his team linked a larger number of diagnoses and more serious conditions patients in for-profit homes “that were consistent with severe clinical signs of neglect.” These conditions included:

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Chicago nursing home abuse lawyersDecubitus ulcers, also known as bed sores, pressure ulcers, pressure sores, or pressure wounds are a painful, sometimes life-threatening medical condition which is sadly common in elderly or disabled individuals. Many residents living in long-term care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities struggle with bed sores due to mobility problems. In fact, studies show that one in five nursing home residents have experienced pressure ulcer symptoms at some point in their stay.

Bed Sores Are Caused by Long Periods of Inertness

Pressure ulcers can be a sign of nursing home abuse and neglect because they are often caused by residents being left alone for long periods of time. Pressure ulcers are injuries caused by persistent pressure or friction on a person’s body. When a non-disabled person lays in bed, he or she is able to move around and find a comfortable position. When a person is immobilized by physical or cognitive disability, they cannot relieve pressure that builds up on certain body parts. Pressure ulcers commonly form on a person’s buttocks, back, backs of arms and legs, head, elbows, hips, ankles, and heels. Pressure ulcers do not form spontaneously but instead grow in severity over time. In addition to being tremendously painful, untreated pressure ulcers can lead to infection, sepsis, cellulitis, and even death.

Understaffing Can Cause Some Residents to Be Neglected

It is no secret that many long-term care facilities and nursing homes are distressingly understaffed. These institutions simply do not have the resources necessary to care for residents in the way they deserve to be cared for. Furthermore, nursing home staff are often under-educated regarding healthcare practices and lack proper training on how to prevent and treat bed sores. Immobile residents in a nursing home should be frequently monitored and repositioned in order to prevent pressure ulcers from forming.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysStudies suggest that over half of all Americans will need to stay in a long-term care facility like a nursing home at least once in their life. For some, a nursing home or assisted living facility becomes their new permanent home. Whether their stay is for one night or for the rest of their lives, residents in a nursing home deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. Their medical needs as well as personal needs should be met to the best of the nursing home’s ability. Various federal and local laws spell out the rights that elderly or disabled people staying in a nursing home have. Tragically, not every nursing home treats residents the way they deserve. Sometimes nursing home abuse and neglect can even lead to an innocent resident’s death.

Nurse Faces Gross Patient Neglect and Forgery Charges

There is much controversy about the role of nursing home staff in taking care of residents. When a resident dies under suspicious or unusual circumstances, it can often be difficult to pinpoint exactly who is to blame. The question of fault is now being considered in a nursing home neglect and abuse case in Ohio. In Putnam County, a trial has begun for a licensed practical nurse who has been blamed for the death of a 76-year-old nursing home resident. Phyllis Campbell passed away due to hypothermia at the Hilty Memorial Nursing Home after she wandered out the doors of the facility and into the courtyard.

Unmonitored Nursing Home Residents May Wander Off into Dangerous Environments

Many elderly nursing home residents have cognitive impairments which make them unable to care for themselves. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are common ailments among the nursing home resident population. Individuals like these often require special care and supervision so that they do not stumble into danger. Campbell was wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet when she wandered outside of the nursing home walls and tragically died, but it was improperly attached and it malfunctioned. Because the bracelet did not work as intended, no alarm sounded after the elderly woman eloped. Staff admitted they never checked in on the resident even though a check-in was documented as completed.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysAccording to the National Center on Elder Abuse, financial abuse is the most pervasive type of elder abuse. Older individuals or those with mental or physical disabilities are often easily taken advantage of when it comes to finances. Unscrupulous caretakers, nursing home staff, or family members may steal or misuse an elder’s funds because they know the elderly person will not be able to report the abuse. Elder financial abuse should be a serious concern for those with loved ones in a nursing home.

Cognitive Impairment Due to Dementia or Alzheimer’s Puts Residents at Higher Risk of Being Exploited

Nursing home residents suffering from cognitive impairment are especially vulnerable to elder financial abuse. The abuser is usually someone the elderly or disabled person trusts such as a spouse, child, grandchild, or caretaker. Even professionals like financial planners, fiduciaries, and nursing home staff member have been caught defrauding or stealing from vulnerable residents in the past. In the majority of these types of cases, the victim of financial abuse does not even know he or she is being exploited.

Examples of Financial Abuse That Can Occur in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

Institutional financial abuse occurs when an institution such as a nursing home, assisted living facility, rehabilitation facility, or other healthcare organization purposely steals funds from a resident. Some nursing homes have been found guilty of overcharging residents for services in order to bring in more profit. Other examples of nursing home financial abuse include:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_sad-old-lady-nursing-home.jpgWhen you place your loved one into a nursing home or a skilled nursing facility, you have every right to expect that they will be treated with dignity, respect, and above all, proper care. After all, nursing homes are staffed with trained professionals who are supposed to care about the people who are residents of their facility. Unfortunately, such is not always the case. Elderly abuse and nursing home negligence do occur in far too many facilities around the country, including here in Northern Illinois.

According to the Illinois State Police, more than 100,000 elderly persons are housed in long-term care facilities in Illinois. This number is only expected to grow in the coming years as Americans continue to live longer than they did in the past. Recent research conducted by a variety of academic organizations suggests that more than 12,000 of those patients will be neglected or abused each year. In order to best protect your loved ones, it is important for you to visit regularly and look for any indications that something may be wrong. Pay close attention to see if your loved one shows signs of:

  • Fear of the nursing home staff. Your loved one may also express concern about being left alone with caregivers;
  • Dehydration or malnutrition not related to terminal illness or end-stage disease;
  • Lack of personal cleanliness, especially if hygiene has been important to your loved one before;
  • Dirty or torn clothing or bedding;
  • Lack of dental care;
  • Fatigue, listlessness, and other indications of depression; or
  • Symptoms of missed medication or excessive use of medication.

In addition to the above signs, any sickness or injury that cannot be easily explained should also be reported. Approximately 30 percent of all nursing facilities nationwide have been cited for instances of abuse, but many more are believed to go unreported. In addition, financial abuse is often common. Check each bill carefully to be sure your loved one is not being billed for services that have not been rendered, or that he or she is not being billed for several services that should be combined into a single billing.

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Illnois nursing home abuse attorneysLong-term care facilities like nursing homes are generally populated with older individuals and people with disabilities. Some residents have physical disabilities and decreased motor function while others are afflicted by mental disability or illness. Many residents suffer from both mental and physical limitations, making them especially vulnerable to illness or injury. Understandably, nursing home staff occasionally have to restrain nursing home residents in order to protect the resident from himself or herself. Things like bed rails or lap cushions can be used to ethically restrict a resident’s movement. Chemical restraints like sedatives may become necessary in extreme circumstances. Unfortunately, a new study shows that many nursing homes are dramatically over-using chemical restraints for nursing home residents with dementia.

Major Report Shows Extent of Chemical Restraint Abuse

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care recently presented its annual Public Service Award in recognition of the Human Rights Watch’s 2018 report “‘They Want Docile’: How Nursing Homes in the United States Overmedicate People with Dementia.” This report includes extensive data collected from over one hundred nursing homes regarding the misuse of antipsychotic medication like Risperdal, Seroquel, and Zyprexa in nursing homes. Medications such as these are designed to treat major mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. However, these medications are being prescribed to elderly residents who do not have one of these disorders as a means of sedating them. Even worse, these antipsychotic medications have been found to nearly double the risk of death in elderly patients.

The report estimates that a staggering 179,000 nursing home residents are chemically-restrained with unnecessary antipsychotic drugs each week in the United States. Residents who were given antipsychotic drugs described the effects as “powerful.” One woman explained that the pills made her sleep all day while another said they made her a “zombie” with “no personality.” Experts say that the overuse of antipsychotic drugs can have devastating consequences to elderly individuals’ health and quality of life.

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersStaff members at a Long Island, New York nursing home may be facing jail time due to the death of a resident. In December of 2015, 81-year old nursing home resident Carmela Contrera became disconnected from her ventilator. The machine, which was literally keeping the elderly woman alive, is fixed with an alarm for exactly this purpose. The alarm is rigged to sound a warning signal whenever vital machines such as a ventilator become disconnected from the patient. However, nursing home staff claim the alarm never sounded. Contrera sadly passed away because no one came to reattach her ventilator. Now, prosecutors are saying that the alarm did in fact sound, but that the nursing home staff simply ignored the warning. Two registered nurses and one nursing aide have been charged with several counts of felony criminal negligent homicide as well as willful violation of health and safety laws.

Prosecution Says Nursing Home Workers Ignored Ventilator Alarm for Over Nine Minutes

Understandably, nursing home staff can quickly become busy and overwhelmed. Helping residents bathe and eat, dispensing medication, and transporting residents between areas of the nursing home can be a taxing job. However, nursing home staff have a legal obligation to care for residents to the best of their ability. When nursing home staff do things like overlook a fallen resident, skip administering a dose of medication, or in this case, ignore a medical alarm, they are being negligent. Tragically, nursing home abuse and neglect cause thousands of deaths a year.

Understaffing and Inadequate Maintenance May Have Contributed to Resident’s Death

Like hundreds of nursing home facilities across the country, the Long Island nursing home where Contrera died was understaffed. Many nursing homes struggle to afford enough staff members and other facilities skimp on staff training. The state attorney general’s office claims that inadequate staffing of the nursing home set employees up to fail and that Contrera’s death was a “foreseeable tragedy" which could have been prevented. Furthermore, the prosecution has found evidence that a respiratory therapist on staff had failed to adequately check that ventilators and alarms were working properly and instead falsified reports that the required inspection had been accomplished. If convicted, the three former staff members accused of causing Contreras’s death face up to seven years in prison.

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Chicago nursing home neglect attorneyResidents staying in a long-term care facility like a nursing home or assisted living center often have physical and mental challenges which make them especially vulnerable to environmental risks. Nursing home staff have a duty to provide clean and safe living spaces for residents. Unfortunately, issues like understaffing and budget cuts have led to some nursing home’s cutting corners when it comes to the safety of their residents. Nursing home abuse and neglect are sadly not rare occurrences. If you or someone you love has been injured or fallen ill due to an unsafe nursing home facility, please read on to learn what you can do to receive compensation.

Nursing Homes Must Meet Certain Criteria

Both state and federal laws require that nursing homes meet certain standards when it comes to cleanliness and safety. For example, showers and toilets should be fitted with grab bars so that residents with physical disabilities can safely maneuver in the bathroom. Kitchen areas should be cleaned and sanitized regularly, and precautions should be taken to avoid contaminating food. Unfortunately, these protocols are not always followed.

Environmental Risks Can Increase the Chance of Falls, Injuries, and Illnesses

Because the majority of nursing home residents have serious physical and/or mental disabilities, it is critical for their living environment to be as risk-free as possible. Things like hazardous chemicals, poor indoor air quality, unsafe living conditions, and poor food preparation hygiene can be life-threatening to someone whose body is already weakened by age or illness.

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Illinois nursing home abuse lawyerIllinois law dictates that individuals receiving treatment at a nursing home be free from abuse and neglect. Tragically, because of issues like understaffing and inadequate staff training, nursing home neglect and abuse continue to occur. Often nursing home abuse does not look like other forms of abuse. One way nursing home and assisted living residents are cruelly mistreated is with unreasonable restraint.

Most long-term care facilities have patients with cognitive or medical problems who may occasionally need to be restrained from moving. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are dramatically overusing both physical and chemical restraints. Residents can suffer physical injuries as well as emotional scars from unreasonable restraint. Unwarranted restraint is a major violation of the rights of the nursing home patient. If you or a loved one has been unreasonably restrained, you may be entitled to compensation.

Physical Restraints Without Justification is Abuse

Residents in a nursing home should be treated with compassion and given as much autonomy as safely possible. Unscrupulous or ignorant nursing home staff may use chemical and physical restraints as a means of keeping “high maintenance” residents subdued. Physical means of restraining residents include items such as straps, ties, bed guardrails, tightly-tucked sheets, and arm and hand restraints. Any type of physical force that restricts a resident’s movement is considered restraint as well. Physically restraining a patient should be reserved only for times a resident presents a risk to himself or others. If physical restraints are used excessively or in a way which causes a resident injury, this may be considered abuse.

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Illinois nursing home falls lawyerThe average, healthy person probably does not give much thought to the dangers of falling. This is rather understandable because a fall is not a very common thing for most people—at least those who are still fairly young. For a senior citizen or the resident of a nursing home, a fall can be absolutely devastating. The injuries sustained in a fall can be quite serious and even fatal. In fact, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that falls represent the leading cause of accidental death and injury for Americans aged 65 and older.

A Growing Segment of the Population

According to the CDC, older Americans suffered some 29 million falls in 2014. About 10 percent (2.8 million) of these falls required emergency medical treatment, and about 800,000 were hospitalized as a result of their falls. More than 27,000 falls eventually led to death. In 2016, about 3 million older adults required emergency care for falls, and nearly 30,000 victims died.

Considering that approximately 10,000 Americans reach age 65 every day, these numbers are expected to continue growing for the foreseeable future. “Older falls are increasing and, sadly, often herald the end of independence,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the CDC.

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Chicago nursing home neglect attorneysYou have probably heard about the condition known as sepsis. Sepsis refers to a particular type of complication that can arise from an infection in a person’s body. Unfortunately, the kinds of infections that are at risk for sepsis are all too common among patients in hospitals and nursing homes. When sepsis is not treated properly, it can cause a host of problems for the patient, including death. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, it is important to know as much as you can about this dangerous condition.

What Is Sepsis?

Also called septicemia, sepsis occurs when certain chemicals are released into the bloodstream to fight an infection and those chemicals cause inflammatory responses throughout a person’s body. The inflammation can then lead to a chain reaction of events that could cause damage to vital organs, eventually shutting them down. If sepsis continues without treatment, the patient’s blood pressure could drop dramatically—a condition known as septic shock. Septic shock can be quickly fatal.

Failure to Diagnose or Treat Sepsis

When a person is inpatient at a hospital or is a resident of a nursing home, he or she should be under appropriate supervision. This means that they are to be monitored regularly for any signs of an infection or sepsis. Those who have recently had surgery or who have open wounds are generally at the highest risk for infection. It is up to the nursing staff to test often for infections, especially among residents who are at risk.

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Chicago nursing home neglect attorneysWhen you place a loved one in a nursing home, you have the right to expect that he or she will be treated with kindness, compassion, and most importantly, appropriate care. After all, the entire point of a nursing home is to provide a level of care that patients cannot easily receive at home. Unfortunately, the “nursing” part of many nursing homes around the country is at frighteningly low levels. In fact, a recent study found that a large majority of nursing homes in the United States fall below recommended federal guidelines in regard to nurse staffing.

Analyzing Staffing Levels

It can be confusing to read reports and studies that address nursing home staff shortages because measuring the care offered by a staff member is quite difficult. For this reason, staffing metrics are often broken down as time per patient per day. For example, if a nursing home has two registered nurses each working a ten-hour shift on a given day, the total nursing time would be 20 hours. If those nurses provided care for 20 residents, the staffing level for that day would be reported as one hour per resident day. If the nurses cared for 40 patients, the level would be 30 minutes per resident day.

In 2001, a federal study estimated that the clinical needs of nursing home patients can usually be met with between 0.55 and 0.75 registered nurse hours per resident day. The same analysis found that residents also need about 4.1 hours of direct care staff time. Direct care staff includes orderlies, nursing assistants, technicians, and other staff members who are not registered nurses.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysA large majority of nursing home patients will spend the rest of their lives in such facilities. Patients like these often have physical or mental health conditions that make them unable to live at home or even in in assisted living facility. At the risk of being too blunt, this means that death is a part of everyday operations at the average nursing home in Illinois.

Most residents who die in nursing homes eventually succumb to their existing conditions. At a certain point, there is only so much that modern medicine can do as people age and become weaker. There are, however, far too many examples of nursing home residents who have died prematurely because of the actions or negligence of facility staff. Last month, the Illinois Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that it has fined two separate Illinois nursing homes over preventable patient deaths this year.

Lincoln Facility Fined $50,000

In January, a 64-year-old woman was involved in a car accident and was admitted to a nursing home in Lincoln, IL to receive treatment. An investigation by the DPH determined that the woman suffered from asthma and sleep apnea. She reportedly had been having trouble breathing for about three days, but the nursing staff did not notify her doctor until the third day—by which point her issue had become an emergency. The woman was given an inhaler, but she was found unresponsive the next day. State records show she died a few days later. The official cause of death was a Staph infection. The DPH fined the home $50,000 for failing to take timely action.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home, you should know that while many nursing home staff have the residents’ best interest at heart, nursing home abuse and neglect is a sad reality. Sometimes it is due to maliciousness and other times, understaffing, poor staff communication, or inadequate staff training. Regardless of how or why it happens, nursing home abuse and neglect is unacceptable. It is up to friends and family of nursing home residents to be their advocates and watch out for signs of neglect or abuse. Physical abuse is usually easier to spot than emotional abuse. It is important, however, to learn about the main types of emotional abuse and how to notice if your loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home.

Purposely Demeaning or Humiliating Residents

Getting older and needing the around-the-clock-care that a nursing home provides can be an incredibly hard thing for some nursing home residents to accept. Many people who eventually need to relocate to a long-term care facility led vibrant, independent lives before being weakened by age, injury, or illness. This is why it is vital that nursing home staff treat residents with respect and dignity. Sadly, some staff may make fun of residents or mock them as amusement. Staff may be making what they think are private jokes among themselves at the resident’s expense, but the resident hears the ridicule. Unscrupulous staff may consider this behavior harmless, but in reality, mocking, jeering, and poking fun at residents in a type of emotional abuse.

Threatening a Resident

Admittedly, being a caretaker of elderly and sometimes cognitively-challenged nursing home residents is a challenging job. Sometimes residents refuse to eat meals, shower, or take their medicine. While this is understandably frustrating, staff resorting to making threats against a resident is deplorable and abusive. If you have a loved one in a nursing home who shows fear, apprehension, or suddenly becomes quiet around certain staff members, this may be a sign the staff is mistreating him or her.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysIt can be extremely disheartening to read about case after case of nursing home abuse and neglect. Some of the stories are mostly sad, while others are downright horrific. Even worse is the idea that only about one in 14 cases of elder abuse—including nursing home abuse—are actually reported. This means that the stories we hear about are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  

If you have a loved one who requires the type of care that is only offered in a nursing home, you may be wondering how you can prevent the unthinkable from happening to him or her. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to minimize the risks.

Do Your Homework

Perhaps the most important way to protect your loved one from abuse or neglect in a nursing home is to educate yourself on the quality of the homes that you are considering. Keep in mind that “educating yourself” means more than a cursory Google search or simply looking at how many stars a particular facility received. Recently, both the Department of Veterans Affairs and Medicare have been forced to take a new look at their respective quality rating systems, which means that it is difficult to trust even a full five-star rating.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysJust weeks after news outlets exposed the often deplorable conditions in many nursing homes managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, now a new story about inadequate nursing home conditions is making headlines. Medicare rates nursing homes on a five-star system, with five stars being the best and one star being the worst. Nursing homes' failures to keep the facilities adequately staffed with registered nurses or to provide records showing staffing information result in a lower score. Medicare just significantly reduced its quality ratings in 1,400 United States nursing homes because of concerns regarding staffing.

Governing Bodies Cannot Rely on Self-Reported Data from Nursing Homes

Medicare began gathering and disseminating statistics on nursing home care after the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) was instituted. Before the ACA required Medicare to keep tabs on nursing homes, the program relied solely on self-reported and unverified information from nursing homes. Unfortunately, it seems as if nursing homes were not entirely truthful about the number and quality of staff at their facilities. After Medicare received payroll archives from nursing homes, it became apparent that many facilities were critically understaffed.

Medicare Requires At Least One Nurse to Be on Duty

Payroll records reveal that many nursing homes do not have an adequate number of staff supervising and caring for residents. Medicare requires that at a minimum, one registered nurse must be available for at least eight hours a day in nursing home facilities. Nurses are the highest-trained caregivers involved directly in patient care at long-term care facilities and are an irreplaceable asset. In addition to helping nursing home residents with medical needs, nurses are also tasked with supervising other caregivers and aides. Many of the nursing homes which received lowered ratings were given the deduction because the facility did not meet the registered nurse requirement.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneyWhen you decide to place your loved one in a long-term care facility such as a nursing home, you trust that the staff employed in that facility have the residents’ best interest at heart. Unfortunately, just like in any other profession, some nursing home staff simply do not have their hearts in the job. Even worse, some nursing home staff actually openly ridicule or mock nursing home residents. Cruel treatment can tragically go undetected when patients suffer from debilitating illnesses and cannot report inappropriate staff behavior.

Hospice Workers Share Sick Video of Dying Woman

Three employees at an assisted living center in Georgia have been arrested after their cruel Snapchat video was discovered by authorities. The employees—three women aged 19-21—were watching over a resident who had recently suffered a stroke until the hospice nurse could arrive. During that time, they decided to create and share a video of themselves smoking a vape pen, making obscene gestures, and cursing–all while the elderly resident lay dying in the background. The shockingly callous and invasive video was titled “The End.” Local authorities charged the three young women with exploiting an elderly and disabled person, and all three have been fired from their positions at the assisted living facility.

The New York State Department of Health is also currently investigating a possible violation of residents’ rights by nursing home staff members’ use of Snapchat. The state received reports of staff members taking photos of residents in a Western New York nursing home and posting them on social media. The nursing home in question said that individuals involved were fired and that it will implement further staff training to prevent future violations.

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