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
The question of whether a nursing home is actually best—given the myriad failures during the pandemic—is on the minds of many Americans with older parents. The recent article reports that more families are making the decision to avoid nursing homes for as long as possible, and sometimes altogether, even when an elderly loved one needs regular care and assistance with activities of daily living.
Nursing home occupancy rates are currently down due to the pandemic. As some staff members at facilities refuse the COVID-19 vaccine and the risk of infection remains, The New York Times suggests that we are likely to see a further decline in occupancy rates.
Could Lower Nursing Home Residency Rates Mean Fewer Incidents of Abuse and Neglect?
If fewer seniors reside in nursing homes, could we also see a decline in the rate of injuries caused by nursing home abuse and neglect? Certainly, the rate of abuse and neglect at skilled nursing facilities could decline if fewer residents are living at these facilities and receiving care. We could also see a decline, potentially, in rates of passive neglect if fewer seniors at these facilities means understaffing is no longer a major issue.
While some older adults do need round-the-clock care, others may be able to live at home more easily now with monitoring technologies. According to The New York Times, technology makes it more feasible to monitor elderly family members and loved ones who are living independently at home, which could end up being a “tipping point” for many families when deciding whether nursing home care is essential. At the same time, it is important to remember that elder abuse does not just happen in nursing homes. Home caregivers can perpetrate abuse, including nurses and other employees who travel to the homes of seniors in need of care. As such, while nursing home rates may in fact be declining, the numbers alone do not mean that we can stop being vigilant when it comes to signs of abuse and neglect.
Contact a San Bernardino County Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Do you have questions or concerns about abuse at a nursing home in Southern California? Our experienced San Bernardino County nursing home abuse attorneys can speak with you today. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information about how we can help your family.
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