When we read news stories or hear anecdotes about elder abuse and neglect in San Diego, we often thinking about harms that occur in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs). In other words, we consider the risks our elderly loved one face in facilities that are required to be licensed by the state of California. When injuries do occur at these regulated places, we should consider the ways in which the California Department of Public Health might be responsible.
But what happens when an older adult sustains elder abuse injuries at a boarding home—a type of residence that does not have to be licensed or certified by the state? A recent article in the San Jose Mercury News discussed the rising number of boarding homes for seniors in California and the ways in which these residences could be the most dangerous of all.
Initial Financial Benefits of Boarding Homes
Why would any seniors in California elect to live in a boarding home—which is not required to meet staffing regulations, for example—instead of in an assisted-living facility or an RCFE? The short answer is that, from the outside, boarding homes look like they may be less financially costly than another type of facility. As the article points out, on average, elderly residents who transition from RCFEs to boarding homes pay $350 less per month. But that initial savings often does not pay off in the long run.
Given that boarding homes are “little-watched and unregulated,” it can be difficult for those who have been victims of elder abuse to file successful claims. Indeed, “unlike skilled nursing facilities . . . the state has no oversight over landlords who rent rooms to strangers, and there’s little regulation at the local level.” Even though we know there have been alleged problems with oversight from the California Department of Public Health—for example, we have previously discussed allegations concerning the lack of oversight concerning nursing home abuse incidents from the department. Yet, that certain types of elderly residences are regulated may give injured people recourse that they otherwise might not have.
Violence at Boarding Homes Across the State
No regulations at boarding homes means that there is not even an operating assumption that homeowners who run these residences will be subject to inspections by the California Department of Public Health. The department’s website explains that certain health care facilities for elderly California residents are “licensed, regulated, inspected, and/or certified by a number of public and private agencies at the state and federal levels.” There is no such licensing and certification program for boarding homes.
According to the article, numerous boarding home residents have filed elder abuse claims after being pushed from their beds, suffering fall-related injuries, and being “so terrified.” While certain situations surely are worse than others, the article emphasizes that the worst cases of elder abuse coming out of boarding homes highlights a serious problem in our state that we need to address, which is “the plight of vulnerable seniors who are faced with fewer housing options as the expense and oversight of running a licensed care home is driving some to close, while other reopen as unregulated boarding houses.”
Although the price tag of a facility alone does not guarantee that an elderly resident will not become the victim of nursing home abuse, the article underscores the fact that we need to think more carefully about the costs of care for California seniors and the related risks of elder abuse. If you believe that an elderly loved one has been the victim of physical or emotional elder abuse, an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer can discuss your options with you. Contact the Walton Law Firm today.
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