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Before anyone in San Bernardino County had ever heard the term COVID-19 or thought about the possibility of a global pandemic caused by a coronavirus, individuals and families worried about the safety of Southern California nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. For years, skilled nursing facilities across the state have been cited for nursing home abuse and neglect, and people with aging parents have struggled to feel comfortable with the health and safety records of many nursing homes. Further, many serious safety violations occur at nursing homes with no documented history of abuse, suggesting that it is critical to go beyond ratings and safety histories when selecting a skilled nursing facility. But has the COVID-19 pandemic made such decisions even more difficult, and potentially impossible? 

According to a recent article in The New York Times, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the failure of nursing homes across the country to keep elderly residents safe and healthy, has led many families to rethink nursing home care altogether. Indeed, “even with vaccines, many older people and their relatives are weighing how to manage at-home care for those who can no longer live independently.”

Nursing Home Occupancy Rates are Down

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been difficult and often impossible for family members to visit with elderly loved ones at Orange County nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. As more seniors in these facilities are vaccinated, and family members are vaccinated, too, visits are becoming possible again. For anyone who is visiting with an elderly loved one in a skilled nursing facility in Southern California, it is critical to know that the pandemic, while it has indeed drawn attention to problematic issues surrounding infection-control measures, has not lessened the effects of other forms of nursing home abuse and neglect. As such, it will be essential to remain vigilant when you visit the facility. 

If you do suspect nursing home abuse or neglect in an Orange County facility, you should know the steps to take.

Make Sure You Know the Signs and Symptoms of Elder Abuse and Neglect

In Riverside County and throughout Southern California, nursing home residents died as a result of COVID-19 infections. For many of these residents and patients, infections and resulting deaths could have been avoided if facilities were properly staffed and if those facilities had engaged in effective and appropriate infection-control measures. However, as a recent Human Rights Watch report emphasizes, the pandemic has exposed not only the serious negligence of facilities related to controlling COVID-19 infections, but underlying problems at facilities that resulted in worse situations during the pandemic. 

Myopic Focus and Lack of Visitors Led to Increased Nursing Home Neglect Injuries

One of the primary points in the report is this: During the pandemic, many nursing homes across the US had a myopic focus on preventing COVID-19 infections and improving infection-control measures, which resulted in a lack of attention elsewhere. That myopic focus, coupled with the ongoing problem of understaffing, meant that many other injuries unrelated to the coronavirus but resulting from nursing home neglect when unnoticed and untreated.

Whether you have an elderly loved one at a nursing home in Riverside County or elsewhere in Southern California, you should learn more about the recent lawsuit filed by the state of California against Brookdale Senior Living. According to an article in Skilled Nursing News, the lawsuit alleges that Brookdale Senior Living Center, a major nursing home operator in the U.S., submitted “false nursing home staffing data to the federal government” and mishandled resident discharges. 

Staffing data is used in part to determine the rating of a nursing home, since understaffing can be a significant indicator of the possibility of nursing home negligence at a facility. When a nursing home does not have sufficient staff to handle the needs of residents, those residents can sustain serious injuries as a result of passive nursing home neglect. The recent lawsuit against Brookdale Senior Living highlights the significance of staffing data, and the need to hold facilities accountable for providing incorrect information that could misrepresent resident safety risks.

Details of the California Lawsuit Against Brookdale

If you are seeking a nursing home in Los Angeles County and you are particularly concerned about risks of elder abuse or neglect at the facility, how can you determine whether you are selecting a nursing home that will provide a high quality of care for your elderly loved one? Families in Southern California and across the country go through this complicated process, and many of them turn to the star rating system provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). However, a recent investigation by The New York Times demonstrates that the CMS star system is significantly flawed, and it may not provide any kind of accurate picture of nursing home safety in California or elsewhere in the country.

What do you need to know about the CMS star system and the risks of using it to find a safe facility where your elderly parent or loved one will not suffer harm as a result of nursing home abuse?

Investigation by The New York Times Reveals Serious Flaws in CMS Nursing Home Star System

It is critical for families and friends of older adults in Riverside County and throughout Southern California to recognize that nursing home abuse is not simply intentional physical or emotional abuse. To be sure, many serious and fatal injuries in nursing homes result from passive neglect, and caregivers can be responsible. According to a recent press release from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a registered nurse (RN) is facing charges related to nursing home neglect and abuse following the death of a 69-year-old female resident at an assisted-living facility in Riverside, California. 

The case underscores that the unintentional failure to provide care in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities can have deadly consequences, and emphasizes the need for families to hold facilities and individual caregivers accountable when their inaction causes serious harm.

Details of the Assisted-Living Facility Death

Nobody should have to learn that an elderly loved one has suffered injuries while living in a San Bernardino County nursing home. Yet injuries and deaths resulting from nursing home abuse and neglect happen much more frequently than most of us would like to think about. When an older adult does suffer serious injuries, or dies as a result of those injuries, it is critical to begin working with a San Bernardino County nursing home abuse lawyer to file a claim against the responsible parties. 

Yet how do you determine who is responsible for a senior’s injuries? Does liability differ when injuries arise out of unintentional passive neglect as opposed to intentional physical or psychological abuse? Every case has its own set of circumstances, so it is essential to determine how to file your claim with help from a lawyer. In the meantime, we want to provide you with general information about some of the parties who could be liable for injuries in a nursing home abuse lawsuit in Southern California.

Nursing Home Staff Members

5starBrookdale Senior Living, which is the country’s largest chain of senior living communities, is being sued by California prosecutors on the grounds of manipulating the Medicare nursing home ratings system. Becker’s Hospital Review recently published an article highlighting some details of the case. This federal ratings system assigns stars from one (being the worst) to five (being the best) to over 15,000 nursing homes nationwide. The system uses data submitted by nursing homes themselves, to assign stars. Prosecutors are claiming that Brookdale submitted false information in order to win a higher star rating, including exaggerating the number of hours that registered nurses work. This higher rating likely encouraged folks to choose Brookdale, making the chain of homes more money than they would have otherwise. The chain is also being accused of illegally evicting or transferring residents in order to make space for other residents that would bring in more money for the home.

These tactics used by Brookdale Senior Living highlight the manipulative, and often deceptive nature of large for-profit nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the US. The allegations against Brookdale follow a recent Times investigation that found many nursing homes have taken advantage of the starred system to achieve high ratings on false pretenses, leaving issues of care quality not addressed.  These allegations are clearly an exaggerated example of some of the wrongdoings that typical nursing homes perform, yet a good reminder of the lengths that homes will go to if their powers are left unchecked. If you feel that a loved one has been subject to negligence or other wrongdoings regarding elderly care at a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact Walton Law Firm today to speak with an elder abuse attorney.

Elder abuse in an Orange County nursing home can be difficult to identify no matter what form the abuse takes. Yet some types of nursing home abuse are even more difficult to identify than others because they do not have obvious physical signs and symptoms. There are many different forms of nursing home abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, willful deprivation, passive neglect, and psychological or emotional abuse. With many of those forms of abuse, friends or family members might see physical signs, like cuts or bruises, restraint marks, or bedsores. Yet when it comes to psychological abuse, the signs are not always as prominent.

We want to tell you more about psychological abuse, and to encourage you to seek help from a nursing home abuse lawyer if you have suspicions of abuse or neglect affecting your elderly loved one. 

Understanding Psychological Abuse in a California Nursing Home

When you have a loved one in a Riverside County nursing home or assisted living facility, or an elderly family member recently passed away while residing in a skilled nursing facility in Southern California, you might have concerns about whether nursing home abuse or neglect has played a role in your relative’s injuries or death. Most people do not have any specialized knowledge about how to detect elder abuse and neglect. As such, it can be extremely difficult to know whether you should move forward with a claim against the facility, or whether you should report the facility or launch an investigation. 

In short, it can be extremely difficult to know with certainty whether nursing home abuse or neglect has occurred. We want to offer you some information that can help if you are grappling with the complicated question of whether or not to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit in Riverside County.

Ask a Riverside County Nursing Home Abuse Attorney for Help 

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