jyotirmoy-gupta-443923-unsplash-copy-300x200Nursing home abuse and neglect in Vista should be considered an important public health issue of concern to any resident of San Diego County, especially someone with an elderly loved one who resides in a nursing home. Yet common public perceptions about elder abuse often mean that people assume abuse either is physical or emotional, and that neglect also results only in physical or emotional harm. It is extremely important to recognize how sexual abuse and assault are also forms of nursing home abuse that can affect older adults, and understand how to protect a loved one from this form of abuse in a California nursing facility. 

According to a recent report from CNN Health, sexual abuse and assault happens more often than most people believe in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and perpetrators can vary widely—from staff members to other residents of the facility.

Families Should be Aware of the Risk of Sexual Abuse and Assault in Long Term Care Facilities

rawpixel-487102-unsplash-copy-300x207Whether your elderly loved one resides in an assisted living facility in Oceanside or another area of San Diego County, it is important to reconsider whether an assisted living facility is the right place if your elderly loved one suffers from dementia. According to a recent article in Kaiser Health News, the number of assisted living facilities has been expanding across the country, meaning that there are more assisted living options than there were previously. However, as a result of the rapid growth of these facilities, they are becoming less and less equipped to handle the needs of patients with dementia. Dementia patients are suffering injuries as a result of elder neglect. 

Nursing home abuse and neglect can occur in any facility regardless of its previous safety record, and even the most well-intentioned facilities may not be able to provide property care for dementia patients, the article suggests.

Goals of Assisted-Living Facilities

james-williams-502481-unsplash-copy-300x225Seniors with Dementia at Increased Risk of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Valley Center 

Older adults in Valley Center who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia are at greater risk of becoming victims of nursing home abuse or neglect. The connection between dementia and elder abuse has been relatively well-studied, and an article published in the journal Health Affairs underscores the link between dementia and nursing home abuse, especially in situations of emotional abuse. That journal article reported that, after a literature review concerning elder abuse and dementia, the researchers concluded that “many older adults experienced multiple forms of abuse simultaneously, and the risk of mortality from abuse and self-neglect may be higher in older adults with greater levels of cognitive impairment.”

Are nursing home abuse and neglect risks just as high when seniors are not properly diagnosed with dementia, or when there is a delayed diagnosis? In other words, do symptoms of dementia have to be advanced in order for an elderly nursing home resident to be at greater risk of abuse, or are almost all patients with dementia—even in its earlier stages—at more risk of injury? A recent article in WebMD suggests that “many older Americans with dementia don’t know they have the disease.” Are these individuals likely to suffer injuries as a result of elder abuse or neglect?

daan-stevens-282446-1-copy-300x191There are many different ways that elder abuse and neglect can happen in Rancho Bernardo, and seniors can suffer from a variety of injuries as a result of nursing home negligence. While we often think about scenarios in which injuries can occur in skilled nursing facilities, should older adults and their families also be thinking more carefully about elder neglect or negligence in hospitals, and what this means for a senior’s long-term health? According to a recent article in The New York Times, many elderly hospital patients end up suffering serious injuries as a result of “post-hospital syndrome.”

What is post-hospital syndrome? In brief, it is tied to hospital readmissions and inadequate care among seniors, according to the article. Who is responsible when elderly patients sustain serious injuries as a result of post-hospital syndrome?

Understanding the Harms of Hospital Readmissions Among Seniors

obed-hernandez-592136-unsplash-copy-212x300Nursing homes in Encinitas and throughout San Diego County should be on warning that nursing home residents and their families are not willing to deal with understaffing problems that can easily lead to nursing home neglect injuries. According to a recent article in Advance Senior Care, there are 15 nursing homes in the state of California that are now the subject of class action lawsuits “alleging that their owner systematically understaffed them to increase his profits.” While these nursing homes are facing claims for nursing home negligence risks, a recent report from California Healthline stated that approximately 1,400 nursing homes in the country will now have to report lower Medicare ratings as a result of concerns about understaffing.

California skilled nursing facilities are required to have specific staffing numbers in order to prevent patient injuries due to elder neglect. When facilities do not have adequate staff, patients can suffer serious and life-threatening injuries due to neglect alone. What should families in California know about the changes to Medicare ratings and how those might relate to the recent class action lawsuits in the state?

Understaffing Problems Lead to Lower Medicare Ratings for Nearly 1,400 Nursing Homes

brandon-holmes-199535-unsplash-copy-300x200When nursing homes are cited for nursing home abuse and neglect in Poway, how are those citations determined? What can the type of citations a facility has received in the past tell potential residents about the quality of care at the facility?

It can be difficult to find a skilled nursing facility in Southern California that has a strong record when it comes to patient safety and patient care. One clear way to know that a facility has had problems in the past is to look into its citation history. However, nursing home citations can be difficult to understand. While a citation of any sort indicates that there is a problem, the different citation levels, including the most serious of the penalties, do not always clearly indicate by title alone that the facility has been cited for a serious incident of nursing home abuse or neglect. The following will explore these citations and describe the different categories.

Class AA Nursing Home Citations are the Most Serious Citation

Walton Law Firm recently settled the case of A.Q., a 78-year-old woman who died tragically after acquiring multiple bedsores that developed and worsened while she was under the care and treatment of a San Diego home health care agency.  Ms. Q was survived by her three children who brought a legal action for both wrongful death and elder abuse and neglect, contending that the result of careless and reckless conduct committed by a license vocational nurse (LVN) who ignored the development and worsening of Ms. Q’s wounds, and failed to notify a physician of the severity of the wounds or make a request for Ms. Q to be sent to the hospital.

Walton Law Firm initially argued that the pressure sores suffered by Ms. Q were the result of negligence, and that such negligence was a substantial factor in her premature death. The home health provider, it was argued, failed Ms. Q when it 1.) failed to obtain an air mattress for Ms. Q as requested by caregivers, 2.) failed to obtain additional nursing care for her when it was obviously needed, 3.) failed to have Ms. Q seen by a registered nurse or mobile physician, and 4.) failing to have Ms. Q transferred to a hospital where she so obviously need to go. 

In addition, Mr. Walton also contended that the treatment of Ms. Q was so egregious, that it rose to the level of elder neglect under California law. In order to show neglect, Ms. Q (through Walton Law Firm) had to show that the home health agency either failed to use the degree of care a reasonable person would have and/or failed to protect Ms. Q from health and safety hazards.  It has had to show these failures were done with the conscious disregard for the rights and safety of Mr. Q.

josh-appel-423804-copy-300x225Whether nursing home patients reside at a skilled nursing facility in Escondido or elsewhere in California, they now have greater protections against elder abuse and neglect. According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, a new California state law requires that patients receive a minimum number of hours of care from certified nursing assistants (CNAs). The law took effect on July 1, 2018, but will patients see an immediate change in the way staffing works at nursing homes across the state? Will staffing increases reduce the rates of nursing home neglect in the state?

Staffing Requirements Stricter, But Will Facilities Meet Those Requirements?

Under the new law, what kinds of staffing requirements are required at nursing homes in Escondido and throughout California? As of July 1, facilities must provide each patient with at least 3.5 hours of direct care every day. This number increased from a previous requirement of 3.2 hours of direct patient care per day. But that change is not the most drastic of the shifts in the law. The significant change is that at least 2.4 of these daily hours of direct patient care must be provided by CNAs.

rawpixel-487102-unsplash-copy-300x207One of the most common reasons that seniors sustain serious injuries from nursing home neglect is understaffing. When skilled nursing facilities do not have enough staff members, there are not enough people to provide the necessary care to patients and residents at the facility. Both California state law and federal law require skilled nursing facilities to have a specific staff-to-patient ratio to help ensure that seniors are getting the care they need. However, according to a recent article in The New York Times, many nursing homes across the country have been overstating their staffing numbers in order to be in compliance with state and federal regulations. As a result, patients have been suffering from nursing home abuse and neglect.

Federal Data Shows Inadequate Staffing Levels at Many Nursing Homes

For many years, according to the article, numerous family members of seniors in skilled nursing facilities have worried that staffing levels were insufficient. As it turns out, many of those suspicions and fears have some validity to them. Indeed, “on the worst staffed days at an average facility, the new data show, on-duty personnel cared for nearly twice as many residents as they did when the staffing roster was fullest.” Records also showed that there were significant fluctuations in staffing numbers at many facilities from day to day, with some days having adequate staff while others had grossly inadequate staff on hand to meet the needs of the residents.

jorge-lopez-284336-copy-300x200Did you know that a majority of elder abuse cases in Vista and throughout California likely go unreported? According to a report from Calaveras Enterprise, research suggests that “for every case of elder or dependent adult abuse known to agencies, 24 more are unknown.” Crimes against seniors in Southern California more generally are on the rise. The City of San Diego predicts that less than 20% of all incidents of elder abuse and neglect are reported in San Diego County. How can raising community awareness help to increase the rates of nursing home abuse reporting in Vista?

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect is Vastly Underreported, but Raising Awareness can Help

In short, elder abuse is underreported. According to a report from Kusi News, reports of violent crimes against older adults in San Diego County rose by about 37% between 2016 and 2017. In each California county, more than 300 reports of suspected elder abuse are logged each year. If we accept that, for every single case reported there are 24 more unreported cases, that fact would mean that there are more than 7,000 incidents of elder abuse each year in San Diego County. Each month in California, the state Adult Protective Services (APS) gets more than 15,000 reports of elder abuse in the state, and the California Association of Area Agencies of Aging indicates that the number of reported abuse incidents is slowly increasing.