• Suspect nursing home abuse or neglect?
  • KNOW THE SIGNS
  • KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
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file000356994816For those of us with elderly loved ones who are currently living in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities, the threat of injuries caused by nursing home abuse is all too real. But what leads staff members at these facilities to perpetrate acts of elder abuse and neglect? Often, as we have noted in previous posts, understaffing at nursing homes frequently results in patients not receiving proper levels of care. But when we think about physical elder abuse, it is more difficult for most San Diego residents to consider explanations.

The possibility of nursing home abuse is abhorrent to us, but it can be difficult to understand why, exactly, it happens. According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, one emergency room physician decided to look more closely into acts and events that prompt elder abuse.

Exploring Causes of Elder Abuse

As the Forbes Magazine article explains, Dr. Tony Rosen, an emergency room physician, often sees elderly patients who have sustained serious injuries. Many of those seniors report that they have fallen, or a caregiver who accompanies the senior to the hospital explains that the patient has suffered injuries in a fall. Given the frequency with which many older adults do suffer fall-related injuries, it can be difficult to know if any of these injuries are in fact a result of the much bigger problem of physical elder abuse. In particular, Rosen begins to worry when it is the caregiver who insists that the cause of the injury is a fall.

We do not always have clear ways to distinguish between injuries that result from accidental falls and injuries caused by elder abuse. But, as Rosen explains, we can look at information that precedes emergency room visits in order to gauge whether a caregiver could be causing harm to a patient.

Qualitative Stories Can Help to Explain Abuse

Based on a study presented at the annual Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and cited by the article, Rosen discusses a list of “acute triggers of physical elder abuse.” In general, there are certain “categories of acute precipitants” that tend to lead caregivers to perpetrate acts of physical elder abuse, which include the following situations:

  • Elderly victim attempts to prevent the perpetrator from entering his or her space;
  • Elderly victim demands that the perpetrator leave the space;
  • Elderly victim either attempts to leave or threatens to leave (or escape);
  • Perpetrator perceives a threat that the elderly victim might contact authorities to report abuse or neglect;
  • Conflict concerning a romantic relationship;
  • Ongoing family violence;
  • Multi-generational childrearing issues becoming salient;
  • Conflict concerning the perpetrator’s substance abuse issues;
  • Elderly victim confronting caregiver about financial exploitation or money in general;
  • Dispute between elderly victim and caregiver over theft or misuse of property; and/or
  • Dispute between elderly victim and caregiver about “minor household issues.”

By and large, many of the triggers look like those that also prompt domestic violence, Rosen suggests. Having a better understanding of why elder abuse happens, he intimates, may be able to help us recognize situations in which a senior is not actually safe with his or her current caregiver.

Do you have questions or concerns about nursing home abuse in a Southern California facility? An experienced San Diego nursing home abuse attorney can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about how we can assist you.

 

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CANHR Lawsuit Gives Power Back to Nursing Home Residents

California Law Library Educates Public About Elder Abuse

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file5041240433770If you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home or assisted-living facility in the San Diego area, do you need to worry about whether abusive photos of your loved one will end up on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat? According to a recent article in The Washington Post, “posting abusive photos of the elderly on social media” has become an alarming trend in nursing home abuse cases. While most of us would like to believe that technology can only help seniors to have better lives, whether they are living independently or under the care of nursing home staff, the article should put Californians on alert to the emotional and psychological abuse that is happening at nursing homes across the country.

Dehumanizing Photos of Seniors and Emotional Abuse

As the article notes, advocates who work tirelessly to prevent nursing home abuse have identified a disturbing trend when it comes to elder abuse and social media: “nursing home workers across the country are posting embarrassing and dehumanizing photos of elderly residents on social media networks such a Snapchat, violating their privacy, dignity, and sometimes, the law.” Although many of these incidents are only now coming to light, the article intimates that numerous violations of patient privacy—that we know of—occurred back as far as 2012.

The article cites a recent study by ProPublica, which has now reported on 35 different cases of potential nursing home abuse in which healthcare workers “surreptitiously shared photos or videos of residents, some of whom were partially or completely naked.” As we mentioned, many of these employees relied on social media platforms to share these utter violations of patient privacy. Of the cases identified by ProPublica, 16 of them involved nursing home or assisted-living center employees who posted photos on Snapchat. In case you do not know about this social media platform, it is a service through which members can post temporary photos that disappear shortly thereafter.

In some of the cases, criminal charges have been filed. Indeed, back in October we discussed a San Diego facility in which an employee was accused of posting a video of an elderly patient in the shower without that patient’s permission. However, many more of the incidents have not resulted in criminal prosecutions. Do they amount to emotional elder abuse? And can patients and their families turn to the law to seek compensation for their injuries?

Threats Posed By Social Media to Patient Safety

The article notes that healthcare workers who post photos or videos of elderly nursing home residents without their permission may be, at the very least, violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This is a federal law concerning patient privacy, for which violations can result in both civil and criminal penalties. But these privacy violations seem to be causing a substantial amount of harm that should be taken just as seriously as other forms of nursing home abuse.

To be sure, nursing home abuse has occurred with and without social media. But the presence of platforms like Facebook and Snapchat make abusive treatment easier—after all, many of these employees post photos and videos using their handheld smartphones.

Although this is “a new type of mistreatment,” according to the article, seniors who have been victims of this kind of nursing home abuse should discuss their claims with an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse attorney. An elder justice advocate at our firm can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to discuss your case.

 

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Improving the Image of Nursing Home Care

Allegations of Emotional Elder Abuse at San Diego County Facility

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doctorAre California’s assisted-living facilities getting any safer for elderly residents? You might remember a series of reports in U-T San Diego about the prevalence of “deadly neglect” in assisted living facilities throughout our state. While efforts have been underway over the last couple of years to change the culture in California’s assisted-living facilities and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs), it is difficult to know whether or not we can trust that a facility will provide proper care for our elderly loved ones. Nursing home abuse and neglect remains a serious issue in Southern California and, indeed, across the country.

According to a recent news release from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), a facility in Anaheim was cited for serious violations in connection with elder abuse and neglect. What else do you need to know about the recent citations and what they say about the safety of assisted-living facilities in California?

Report Suggests Patterns of Elder Abuse and Neglect

According to the news release, the Anaheim assisted-living facility, Mother Marcy Home Care-Chateau, is alleged to have engaged in behaviors that posed serious safety risks to patients. To begin with, the facility allegedly “evicted a resident earlier this year without advance notice and abandoned him at a hospital three miles away,” investigators reported. We know that one of the owners of the facility has “a lengthy felony record,” and is alleged to have “defied state officials’ orders to stay away from residents but continued to visit the sex-bed elder care home on a regular basis.”

These recent citations are not the first—by any stretch—levied against Mother Marcy Home Care-Chateau. Over the last five years, the assisted-living facility has received more than 80 citations, when we take into account its sister facility, Mother Marcy Home Care (which is also located in Anaheim). In other words, the Orange County nursing home has received repeated violations that suggest a pattern of elder abuse and neglect. The citations, according to the news release, included some of the following allegations:

  • Failure to provided minimum required caregiver training;
  • Failure to perform “common sense procedures,” which included keeping dangerous objects away from residents; and
  • Failing to run background checks on employees.

Researching Histories of Nursing Home Abuse in California

While the California Department of Social Services now has an electronic database in which Californians can seek out detailed information about safety violations at assisted-living facilities, a number of elder advocates argue that the database as it currently exists is insufficient. Indeed, not all inspection reports are available to the public, and there is a lack of specificity with regard to some of the violations.

Nursing home abuse and neglect can result in severe and even fatal injuries. If you have concerns that an elderly loved one has not received property care at a nursing home, assisted-living facility, or RCFE, it is essential to discuss your case with a dedicated San Diego nursing home abuse attorney. While signs of elder abuse can be subtle, they can have fatal consequences. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about how we can help.

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Certified Nurse Aides Discuss Causes of Elder Abuse

FBI Investigates Riverside Nursing Home

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gavelWhat happens when a nursing home resident cannot make medical decisions for herself but she has no family members to rely upon? Last summer, we told you about a case that went before the Alameda County Superior Court, which put some of the power back in the hands of nursing home residents. A recent article in the California Health Report emphasized the far-reaching implications of this decision, and the ways in which there are both potential pros and cons for nursing home residents.

CANHR’s Case Against the California Department of Public Health (CDPH)

Before we discuss some of the recent commentary on the court decision from June of 2015, it is important to recall the key issues at stake in this case. According to the article, the advocacy group California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) filed a lawsuit against the CDPH, arguing against the constitutionality of “a California statute allowing nursing homes to make medical decisions for residents incapable of doing that for themselves and who have no family or legal representatives.”

Ultimately, Judge Evelio Grillo of the Alameda County Superior Court ruled that the statute is in fact unconstitutional, and that “nursing homes must notify unrepresented residents when they are being deemed incompetent.” In addition, the court’s ruling emphasized that nursing homes also “may not administer newly-prescribed antipsychotic drugs or make end-of-life decisions for these residents without obtaining court authorization or a court appointed public guardian or conservator.” In other words, nursing homes are not allowed to simply make decisions for incompetent nursing home patients and then act immediately on those decisions.

Advocates with CANHR filed the lawsuit with the belief that nursing home residents in California deserve to have rights, regardless of whether they are over a certain age and incapable of making medical decisions for themselves. Morton Cohen, a professor of law at Golden Gate State University, agreed. For decades, the professor has been advocating for nursing home patients’ rights in our state and elsewhere. As the article points out, Cohen has a long history of “advocating for the rights of people in psychiatric facilities, nursing homes, and prisons,” and he won a major case concerning the use of antipsychotic drugs back in 1987.

Potential Downsides of the Decision

While most of us are probably reading a recap of the June case and thinking that nursing home patients should in fact have the kinds of protections that have only been newly afforded to them, some commentators continue to emphasize that the decision could have deleterious effects in certain cases. For example, an advocate for long-term care providers contends that the changes to the law could make it more difficult for nursing home patients who have been deemed incompetent to get the care they need, particularly if they need it quickly.

For example, he argues, this type of nursing home resident—someone who has been deemed incompetent but does not have a family member or other representative—may end up in an acute care hospital rather than a nursing home for treatment. In addition, that advocate cited in the article suggests that the new ruling may encourage nursing homes to turn down patients who have been deemed incompetent but do not have personal representatives. To be sure, “both sides agree it will be difficult to get underfunded public guardians or conservators to represent these residents.”

Commentators for CANHR and other elder rights advocates do not believe that such issues will become serious problems in California. And rights to due process, in the minds of CANHR advocates and Judge Grillo, outweigh the potential pitfalls.

Do you have questions about patients’ rights in nursing home? An experienced San Diego elder abuse lawyer can answer your questions. Contact the Walton Law Firm today.

 

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Lawsuit Alleges State of California Illegally Transferred Nursing Home Residents

Class Action Against California Nursing Home Owner

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ttronslien-9913It can be difficult for California residents who do not have specific ties to elder advocacy groups to learn more about confronting nursing home abuse and neglect in our communities. Yet one city in California has taken steps to make materials about elder abuse awareness and prevention more accessible to members of the community who do not necessarily have specific knowledge about law enforcement or legal advocacy. According to a recent article in the Pleasant Hill Patch, the Contra Costa County Public Law Library is open to the public, providing “resources to help recognize and report elder abuse.”

Library with a “Special Interest in Serving Seniors”

The Contra Costa County Public Law Library has branches in a number of cities in northern California, including Martinez, Richmond, and Pittsburg. Its emphasis on providing “information and resources for recognizing and reporting elder abuse” is an aim that could easily be taken up in Southern California as well, encouraging more San Diego residents to get the information they need to help put a stop to nursing home abuse. As the article articulates, the Contra Costa County library has a “special interest in serving seniors,” and as a result it targets senior citizens in California in its outreach activities.

The brochures and other materials that the library provides help Californians to understand the signs and symptoms of elder abuse, and they also include other related topics of interest to older adults in particular. One of the special aspects of the library is that it is not only focused on providing this information to family members who have elderly loved ones in nursing home or assisted-living facilities throughout the state. To be sure, the library aims to provide California seniors with enough information that, if they are able, they can take steps to help themselves.

Elderly California Residents Can Identify Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

When we think about people who might be in the best position to notice the signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse, it is not often that we think of other seniors. Yet, as the article makes clear, older adults may be in the position to help themselves or others who have been the victims of abuse or neglect. The Contra Costa County Public Law Library offers Senior Self-Help Clinics that are sponsored by the local bar association. These clinics can give older Californians the information they need to face issues of elder abuse among themselves or their peers.

The computers at the library are also set up to make information about filing an elder abuse claim at both the county and state levels accessible to anyone who visits the space. The library director also provides specialized research assistance for elder abuse issues.

Nursing home abuse and neglect can be difficult to recognize if you do not know the signs and symptoms. If you suspect that someone you know may have been the victim of elder abuse, you should learn more about options by speaking with an experienced San Diego elder abuse attorney. An advocate at our firm can answer your questions today. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more.

 

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Caregiver Abuse in Southern California

Preventing Elder Abuse During the Holidays

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file2811310649672According to a recent article from U.S. News & World Report, many nursing homes in California and across the country are working hard to eradicate elder abuse and neglect, but there is still more work to be done. As the article explains, “the next generation of nursing homes is working to shed old stereotypes.” But do cases of nursing home abuse persist?

Changing the Face of Nursing Homes in California

How do most of us imagine nursing facilities when we have not visited loved ones who are residents? The article in U.S. News & World Report notes that, “for many, the image of nursing homes is one of sad, sterile institutions where elderly people are left isolated by family members who stop caring.” Generally speaking, this image of nursing homes is not accurate. We cannot necessarily tell whether a facility is taking good care of its residents—and taking important steps to prevent elder abuse and neglect—just by looking at it. As we have noted in previous posts, numerous nursing homes that have been fined for nursing home abuse or neglect have posh interiors and carry higher price tags than safer facilities.

How can you determine whether a facility is likely to be a safe and caring environment for your elderly parent? This question is a complicated one, and it can vary from facility to facility. One of the ways we might assess a nursing facility, the article suggests, is by the steps the facility is taking to improve the quality of life for residents there. In other words, if nursing homes are making an effort to shed the image of “places where people bide their time until they die,” they be demonstrating a general interest in the well-being of seniors within the facility.

Incorporating New Technologies

One of the ways that many facilities are upgrading to provide a better quality of life for residents is through the incorporation of new technologies. For example, certain nursing homes are investing in iPads and Fitbits for residents, ensuring that all patients who are interested in staying healthy—both mentally and physically—can have access to apps that can help them in these endeavors.

According to the article, providing new technologies can help residents with their states of mind, too. One of the trends for nursing homes is to attempt to turn residents’ experiences into those that look more like experiences of a hotel guest. Some facilities have a concierge available to meet 24-hour needs of residents, and iPads can help, too. For instance, residents who grow comfortable using an iPad for crosswords or other mental activities can use apps to order food or to let a nurse know that they need assistance. In other words, an iPad may be able to help nursing home patients feel as though they are in control of their own day-to-day activities in a manner that residents without such technology cannot readily imagine.

But as the article emphasizes, there is still much room for improvement in nursing homes across the country. Nursing home abuse remains a serious problem in Southern California, and it is important to contact an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer if you suspect that your elderly loved one is not receiving adequate care. Contact the Walton Law Firm today.

 

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Lawsuit Alleges State of California Illegally Transferring Nursing Home Residents

Certified Nurse Aides Discuss Causes of Elder Abuse

 

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file851332343852It no longer comes as a surprise for many Southern Californians that our elderly loved ones can be at serious risk of nursing home abuse and neglect in facilities that we once believed were safe. But recognizing that there is a problem is not enough to solve it. What can we do to prevent elder abuse in a large-scale, lasting way? A recent article in the Cornell Chronicle cited a new study in The New England Journal of Medicine, which underscored the significance of the “It Takes a Village” approach to putting a stop to elder abuse.

Profiling the Most Likely Victims of Elder Abuse

As the new study explains, we have not learned that rates of elder abuse are increasing. Instead, we have learned more about how frequently elder abuse occurs and to whom. Over the last several years, physicians and researchers have identified a certain profile of seniors who are most likely to become victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. Risk factors include but are not limited to:

  • Gender: More women experience elder abuse, the authors of the study report, than do men;
  • Impairment: Cognitive and physical impairments make elder abuse or neglect more likely;
  • Income: Seniors with low incomes are more likely to become victims of nursing home abuse;
  • Dementia: Older adults who have been diagnosed with dementia are more likely than those without dementia to be abused; and
  • Residence: Those who live “with others such as a spouse or adult children, are also at higher risk.”

Having more than one of the risk factors increases the likelihood of elder abuse. As the study authors explain, “you can get a picture of an older woman, who is beginning to experience an impairment, lives with a relative (who is likely to be the abuser) and otherwise is socially isolated, and may have some form of dementia.” And elder abuse is not limited to physical abuse. The recent study underscores that abuse can come in many forms, including sexual and psychological abuse, verbal mistreatment, and neglect.

If we know the profile of the most likely victims of abuse, is there more we can do to prevent it?

Developing a Multidisciplinary Team Approach

Physicians are in the best position to recognize elder abuse and to intervene. As Mark Lachs, one of the study’ co-authors and a professor of medicine and co-chief of the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine explains, “a physician may be the only person who ever gets the chance to detect elder abuse because these people can become so socially isolated with just the abuser that often no one else sees them.”

Removing a victim from her current living situation is not necessarily the answer. Instead, Lachs and Karl Pillemer, the other co-author of the study and professor of gerontology at Weill Cornell Medicine, contend that a multidisciplinary team may be one of the best answers for combatting abuse. Such a team might include:

  • Physicians;
  • Nurses;
  • Social workers;
  • Hospitals;
  • Police;
  • District attorneys; and
  • Lawyers.

With such teams in place, victims of elder abuse may be able to get the help they need to get out of an abusive situation and to hold their abusers accountable. The authors of the study argue that every city in America should creative a multidisciplinary team if we want to make strides in stopping elder abuse and neglect.

If you have concerns about an elderly loved one’s care in Southern California, an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to discuss your case.

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Staffing Shortages at Skilled Nursing Facilities

Northern California Nursing Home Sued for Overmedicating Residents

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handsAccording to a recent article from NBC Los Angeles, two staff members at a caregiver facility in Rancho Cucamonga were accused of elder abuse in the cases of two residents, and investigators indicate that “there may be more victims.” When we think of caregivers and elder abuse, we typically think of scenarios that occur outside nursing home settings. However, it is important to remember that employees of nursing facilities are responsible for providing proper care to seniors. In the recent case, authorities made clear that the victims themselves were “unable to communicate,” yet police obtained evidence to support allegations of dependent adult abuse.

What else do you need to know about caregiver abuse? According to a publication from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), caregiver abuse is commonly a crime that occurs within families. By taking a close look at the publication, we can address some of the factors that may play a role in situations of caregiver abuse within and outside a senior’s home.

Caregiver Stress and its Relation to Elder Abuse

As the publication explains, early studies of caregiver abuse often cited stress as a primary factor in a family member’s inability to provide proper care for an aging loved one. These “early studies portrayed the ‘typical’ elder abuse case as one in which a frail older women was abused by a well-meaning but understandably overstressed caregiver.” Now, we know that this depiction of elder abuse simply is not the norm, and researchers “have blamed this persistent characterization, now known to be inadequate, with distorting the public’s understanding of elder abuse and steering attention away from more promising lines of inquiry.”

If caregiver stress is not the primary cause of elder abuse or elder neglect, what is its relation to this large-scale problem? What researchers do know is that caregiving can cause stress, but the reasons for increasing stress levels may have less to do with caregiving in general and more to do with the personality types of those involved in the caregiving arrangement.

The NCEA emphasizes that “Caregivers’ stress levels are affected, to a great extent, by how they feel about their caregiving responsibilities and the people for whom they provide care.” For instance, caregivers who described their patients as “manipulative, unappreciative, or unreasonable” reported higher levels of stress. Additionally, caregivers who were performing this role out of guilt also indicated that they experienced more stress than others in similar situations. Yet experiencing stress does not mean that the caregiver will abuse the patient.

Predictors of Stress and Predictors of Abuse

While temporary increases in caregiver stress may not be linked clearly to elder abuse, underlying factors for that stress could be playing a role in assessing risk. For example, researchers have found that caregivers who have been diagnosed with depression—which often leads to increased stress—may be more likely to abuse a patient. This is true “particularly when caregivers’ level of depression reaches near-clinical levels.”

In addition to depression, low self-esteem among caregivers has proven to be a relatively reliable predictor when thinking about the risks of elder abuse. But the key takeaway from the publication is this: each caregiving situation is different, and subjective factors—rather than objective ones—tend to be more indicative of whether an elderly adult may be at risk of abuse. As such, it is important to pay careful attention to your elderly loved one’s situation and to the individual characteristics of his or her caregiver.

If you have concerns about elder abuse or neglect, you should reach out to a dedicated San Diego elder abuse attorney. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more.

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Nursing Home Workers’ Strike Raises Questions About Care

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walking_togetherGiven that the holiday season typically is a time in which families get together to celebrate, it also offers an opportunity to keep a watchful eye for signs of elder abuse and neglect. According to a publication from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), holidays often are a time in which we get the chance to visit with elderly parents or grandparents, and a surprising number of those seniors could be at risk of nursing home abuse. As the publication clarifies, about 10% of seniors suffer from elder abuse or neglect, but many of them do not get the chance to report the abuse, particularly if it is happening under the watch of a home caregiver or a nursing home assistant.

What can you do to ensure that all members of your family, including the older adults in your life, have a happy and healthy holiday season?

Ask Yourself the Right Questions When You Visit

If the period between Thanksgiving and the New Year is the only time in which you are likely to see an elderly relative in person, it is important to pay particular attention to that senior’s surroundings and to ask yourself some important questions that could point to signs of nursing home abuse. If your elderly parent still lives alone at home, you need to be sure that he or she has everything he or she needs to take care of him or herself properly. Remember that seniors can suffer injuries as a result of self-neglect, as well as abuse by other seniors with whom they are currently living.

You might ask yourself some of the following questions to determine whether your elderly loved one’s current living situation is adequate in terms of his or her specific needs:

  • Does your parent need help with chores around the house?
  • Does your parent need assistance with transportation, to the grocery store or to physician appointments?
  • Does your elderly loved one need help bathing, dressing, taking medications, or performing other activities of daily living?
  • Is he or she isolated from the community, or are there opportunities to socialize with other persons or community members?
  • If your parent lives with another person, is your parent dependent upon that other person for care? If so, do you think that person is an appropriate caregiver? Does the caregiver understand the specific needs of your elderly loved one, such as bathing, dressing, and understanding medication directions?
  • If your elderly loved one lives at a nursing home or an assisted-living facility, does she seem content? Do you notice any signs of physical abuse or neglect? Are there significant shifts in mood or behavior?

As the publication explains, if you do not suspect elder abuse before a holiday visit, be aware of any circumstances that seem suspicious. And if you do have suspicions that an elderly loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you should schedule a longer visit to give you time to assess the situation and to meet with advocates in the area.

Contact a San Diego Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

While the holidays should be a happy time for families and friends, it is important to remember that elder abuse can happen at any time of the year. If you have concerns about an older adult’s safety or wellbeing, you should speak with a dedicated San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about how we can assist you.

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Lawsuit Alleges State of California Illegally Transferred Nursing Home Residents

Certified Nurse Aides Discuss Causes of Elder Abuse

 

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apartment buildingFederal laws exist to prevent nursing homes from removing elderly residents into hospitals, yet the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) are alleging that the state of California is doing just that, according to a recent press release. The nonprofit advocacy group argues that “California nursing homes have been sending Medi-Cal residents to acute care hospitals and refusing to allow them to return to the nursing homes where they reside.”

CANHR has described the state’s actions as “patient dumping,” according to a report from Southern California Public Radio. And dumping patients is not just an issue for older adults or for those of us with elderly loved ones. If the allegations turn out to be true, they will have cost taxpayers in California more than $70 million over the last decade.

Federal Requirements and Readmission to Nursing Facilities

According to the press release, federal law requires California to “offer a readmission hearing that provides for the prompt readmission of residents.” The California Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is allegedly conducting these hearings. Yet the state of California is not upholding the decisions. When elderly Californians are denied readmission to a nursing home after spending time in the hospital, they are in effect left without a home. Given that these residents do not have anywhere to go, they end up staying in the hospital for much lengthier stays than necessary. Those hospital stays are what is costing taxpayers so much money.

Patricia McGinnis, the Executive Director of CANHR, emphasized the seriousness of the allegations against the state that have resulted in the recent lawsuit. As she explained, the practice of refusing readmission to nursing homes is not new to California, but rather “has become an epidemic” in our state. McGinnis argues that, “until and unless we make it more expensive for nursing homes to violate the law than to honor residents’ rights, nursing homes will continue this illegal and life-threatening behavior.”

What is the aim of the lawsuit brought by CANHR? At its core, the nonprofit advocacy groups hopes to “expose the problem” and to “push the State to enforce its laws and honor our commitment to vulnerable residents who need help.”

Individuals in California Impacted By State’s Actions

In developing its complaint against the state, CANHR considered the stories of many different elderly Californians and their families that have been negatively affected by nursing home readmission practices. For instance, three individual plaintiffs won their readmission hearings—allowing them to be readmitted to their nursing homes after hospital stays—but the nursing facilities where they had been living would not readmit them. One plaintiff has been forced to endure chemical restraints “even though he is able to walk.” Another plaintiff had been living in a nursing home in Sacramento near his family, but he was forced to move to Los Angeles after being denied readmission to his nursing home.

These allegations are serious, and they should remind San Diego residents that we need to pay particular attention when our loved ones receive care in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. If you have questions or concerns about nursing home abuse or neglect, you should speak with an experienced San Diego elder abuse lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about how we can help.

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