Articles Posted in Riverside Nursing Home

christopher-ayme-157131-copy-300x200Oceanside nursing home residents and their families should consider learning more about therapy animals and how they could help to improve the general health and quality of life for seniors who reside in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Southern California. According to a recent article in U-T San Diego, animal therapy is becoming more prominent in California and throughout the country, more residents in long-term care facilities are considering the benefits of therapy animals. An article in Psychology Today discusses a recent study that addresses the impact of therapy dogs in nursing homes and the question of whether they could help to improve the emotional health of seniors in these facilities.

It is important to raise public awareness about issues concerning nursing home abuse and neglect in order to prevent such incidents from happening. At the same time, seniors who reside in these facilities need to be in good emotional and psychological health in order to engage in self-care, and to have the strength to report incidents of abuse or neglect when they arise. In addition, when seniors are subject to nursing home abuse, they need strong immune systems to fight injuries. Emotional and psychological health impacts physical health and the immune system—when one falters, the other can, too. Can therapy animals have this effect?

Animals Visitation Programs and Therapy Dogs in Long-Term Care Settings

ian-schneider-95541-300x200How much decision-making power does a Chula Vista nursing home resident get when it comes to his or her quality of care? According to a recent article from Kaiser Health News, seniors in Southern California and across the country may be able to have more autonomy through shifts in federal regulations. As the article explains, around 1.4 million seniors living in nursing homes “now can be more involved in their care under the most wide-ranging revision of federal rules for such facilities in 25 years.”

What does it mean for older adults in nursing homes to have more autonomy over their schedules and care? Could such shifts in care perhaps reduce the rate of nursing home abuse in Southern California and throughout the country?

Shift in Federal Rules Focuses on “Person-Centered Care”

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Peer-on-peer abuse in the nursing home setting is a problem that gets very little attention, but occurs with more and more frequency. A horrific example of this occurred two weeks ago at Chino Valley Health Care Center in Pomona. On November 23rd, John Lazzaro, a 91-year-old resident of the rehabilitation hospital, was killed after being attacked by fellow resident Matthew Harvey, who was only 47.

The details of the attack are kind of sketchy, but according to news accounts Lazarro was found in his room with severe wounds to his arm and face. So severe were the wounds to his arm it required amputation. It is very likely that Mr. Lazzaro couldn’t survive the surgery and died shortly thereafter.

As California starts to overhaul the regulation of its 350,000 registered nurses, one of the nursing board’s most promoted and trouble programs is under the microscope. The nursing drug diversion program, which seeks to help nurses maintain their licenses while they kick addiction to drugs, has apparently not been the success the nursing board would like the public to believe.

An investigation by the Los Angeles Times and ProPublica discovered several examples of nurses in the drug diversion program who practiced nursing while intoxicated, stole drugs from bedridden patients, and committed fraud to prevent from being caught.

Most troubling is that since the program was started in 1985, more than half the nurses who entered the program were unable to finish it and numerous nurses who failed the program were deemed to be “public safety threats.” Yet despite the identification of incorrigible nurses, several continued to work after the findings were made.

Elder abuse cases are rarely reported, and even more rarely prosecuted. “Elder abuse cases, for whatever inappropriate reason, are not considered as severe,” said Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco.

The reasons for the low reporting and prosecuting are varied. There is the embarrassment of being a victim, and in many cases – up to two-thirds – the elderly victim knows the abuser. But there is also the problem of ageism; the failure to take the matter seriously because the victim is elderly.

And it’s not just the public that needs educating about elder abuse and neglect, but law enforcement as well. Riverside County has a special team dedicated to elder abuse cases, and it sees the ageism first hand. “They’re old. They didn’t have to live anyway,” are the types of excuses heard by Tristan Svare, a San Bernardino deputy district attorney.

The Walton Law Firm elder abuse and neglect lawsuit filed against Vista Hospital of Riverside was the subject of a front page story in the Press Enterprise newspaper today.

The lawsuit arises out of the improper care provided to 78-year-old Shirley Buffa, who died after the hospital failed to administer dialysis treatments necessary to treat her diabetes. According to her son, Marine Corp. veteran Robert Buffa, his mother became increasingly sick in the days after she was admitted to the hospital, but the hospital attributed the decline in her health to a reaction to antibiotics. When the mistake was realized, it was too late.

At that point, she couldn’t even talk,” Robert Buffa said. “I said, ‘Mom, I love you. How come you can’t open your eyes?'”

Southern California legislators are supporting a proposal that would require nursing homes to post their ratings on the front door, much like health grades are posted at restaurants. Yesterday, Assembly Bill 215 was introduced in the California legislature to require that any nursing home that receive federal money to prominently display the rating it received under the federal government’s recently unveiled five-star rating system.

“Posting nursing home grades is crucial to ensuring our loved ones receive the high quality of care they deserve,” State Representative Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) said in a statement. “This legislation will give families valuable information and provide an additional incentive to facilities to achieve the highest standards.”

Last month, Los Angeles County supervisors voted unanimously to require that any nursing facility that receives Medicare and Medi-Cal funding to post their ratings, and inform all new residents of the rating. The ratings are based on federal inspections, using three years worth of data.

Nursing Home Compare, a five-star rating system used to rate nursing homes nationwide, has been updated and upgraded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The updated website (click here) is intended to make choosing a nursing home easier for searching, and will hopefully have the effect of “outing” those poor nursing facilities that continually under-perform.

This is good news for consumers and nursing home advocates, and elder abuse lawyers. It is also sorely needed. U.S. Census figures project that the number of Americans over 65 will double by 2030, and two-thirds of those will require some period of nursing home care.

The California Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is the state program responsible to investigate and resolve complaints made by individuals (or their representatives) residing in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. Last week, when the California budget was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger, he cut state funding for the ombudsman program.

The decision has not gone over well with elder care advocates. The governor’s cuts removes roughly 15% of the budget for the program, which translates into a loss of 1.25 of every 3.7 positions.

To contact your local ombudsman’s office call the appropriate telephone number in the geographical area the incident leading to the complaint occurred.

This list contains the issuance of citations to Southern California nursing facilities by the California Department of Public Health over the last six months. All the citations listed are issued for reasons related to patient care. For verification of the citation, please contact the local department office or Walton Law Firm LLP.

<font size='2'Facility Date Citation
Los Angeles County Elder Abuse
Brighton Convalescent Center 05/23/08 Class B
Heritage Manor 03/7/08 Class B
Imperial Convalescent Hosp 03/26/08 Class B
Ramona Care Center 05/23/08 Class B
Studio City Rehabilitation Center 02/21/08 Class A
Villa Oaks Convalescent 06/23/08 Class B
Windsor Convalescent Long Beach. 05/22/08 Class B
Windsor Palms Artesia 05/23/08 Class A
Orange County
Evergreen Fullerton Healthcare 04/15/08 Class B
French Park Care Center 05/20/08 Class B
Kindred Healthcare of Orange 04/29/08 Class B
New Orange Hills 04/16/08 Class B
Parkview Healthcare 04/15/08 Class AA
Riverside County
Cypress Gardens 06/10/08 Class AA
San Diego County
Edgemoor Geriatric Hosp. 06/26/08 Class A
Cypress Gardens Rehabilitation 03/20/08 Class A
Lemon Grove Care & Rehab. 07/16/08 Class B
Villa Las Palmas 07/01/08 Class B
Vista Healthcare 04/11/08 Class B
Santa Barbara Nursing Home Neglect
La Cumbre Senior Living 07/24/08 Class B & A
Country Oaks Care Center 5/20/08 Class B

Class AA: The most serious violation, AA citations are issued when a resident death has occurred in such a way that it has been directly and officially attributed to the responsibility of the facility, and carry fines of $25,000 to $100,000.

Class A: Class A citations are issued when violations present imminent danger to patients or the substantial probability of death or serious harm, and carry fines from $2,000 to $20,000.

Class B: Class B citations carry fines from $100 to $1000 and are issued for violations which have a direct or immediate relationship to health, safety, or security, but do not qualify as A or AA citations.