For nearly half a century California has been a pioneer in the field of adult day health care, creating a system designed to provide health and social services to the elderly and disabled. The Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) system was established in the 1970s, in part as a response to stories of nursing home abuse or neglect like bed sores, infections, falls, inadequate supervision, misuse of medication, malnutrition, and dehydration.
The California ADHC benefit provided a system of community services to medically needy elderly and disabled individuals by qualified health care providers, including nurses, social workers, and physical therapists. According to an article in the Times-Standard, which called the California legislature’s recent elimination of the ADHC model the “unkindest cut,” the California ADHC benefit served approximately 55,000 seniors and people with disabilities annually. The ADHC benefit aimed to keep elderly loved ones out of institutions while also easing the caretaking duties of family members. Thus, for the past forty years, the California ADHC benefit has protected some of our most vulnerable citizens and has helped to prevent California elder abuse.
Our San Diego elder abuse attorney knows that the recent budget cuts may soon render elderly and disabled citizens more vulnerable. In March of this year, California legislators voted to eliminate the ADHC’s network of support. California is now grappling with its difficult decision and its subsequent, and somewhat hastily assembled, plan to transition elderly and disabled patients who are currently receiving care under the ADHC benefit to alternative facilities and placements. What was once the nation’s “gold standard” for elder care is now placing elders and their families at risk. Seniors who were receiving community care may have to be placed in nursing homes, increasing their risk for abuse and straining the finances of their families.
One of the reasons the elimination of the ADHC benefit is so concerning is that it may well lead to the very abuse that the plan was originally designed to address and prevent. Nursing home abuse or neglect is often unreported and can be difficult to detect. Family members often do not know how to spot the signs of abuse. For example, unexplained injuries, a sudden loss of weight, or inadequate staffing at California nursing homes may be signs of elder abuse or neglect. As California’s elderly and disabled population is “transitioned” out a system that was reliable, relatively cost effective, and collaborative, those at the most risk for abuse may be made even more so.
Our San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer understands how to guide families and their loved ones through the process of reporting and addressing nursing home abuse. If you suspect abuse or neglect, prompt reporting to authorities is imperative to protecting your loved ones and getting them the care and attention to which they are entitled.
The elimination of California’s adult health care model is indeed the “unkindest cut.” It is tragic because the harm will be inflicted on California’s elderly and disabled residents, all while straining the budgets of families trying to care for some of California’s most vulnerable citizens.
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