From Patricia McGinnis of the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.
Do you know enough about restraints in nursing homes and the importance of restraint-free care? According to a fact sheet from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), we as a society used to believe that the use of restraints was acceptable in nursing homes for elderly adults and those with disabilities. Yet the use of restraints in nursing homes is very dangerous, and it may rise to the level of nursing home abuse. As the fact sheet highlights, restraints “often entail more risks than benefits,” and recent studies “recommend more dignified methods to improve residents’ safety.”
Yet, as the CANHR fact sheet illumines, many nursing homes and assisted-living facilities continue to use unnecessary restraints, putting patients at risk of physical harm. And on the whole, California nursing homes, in particular, may be particularly heavy-handed in their use of unnecessary restraints. The fact sheet notes that “California nursing homes use physical restraints at a rate about fifty percent higher than the rest of the nation.” What else do you need to know about restraints and helping your loved one to obtain restraint-free care in a skilled nursing facility in San Diego?
California and Federal Law Prohibits Unnecessary Restraints
Many of us with elderly loved ones who have spent hours and days investigating nursing homes and assisted-living facilities know that most for-profit facilities are not providing the quality of care that most of us seek. An article in Bloomberg emphasized that “for-profit nursing homes lead in overcharging while care suffers.” A number of the facilities profiled in that article had settled wrongful death lawsuits in recent years or had otherwise faced allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect resulting in the serious injuries and deaths of patients.
Why should California residents focus on the problems that have been linked to for-profit facilities? According to a recent press release from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), a bill that just passed the Assembly Health Committee without any opposition “would open up two very important public and non-profit health financing mechanisms to for-profit nursing home corporations.”
Risks of Public Funding Usage at For-Profit Nursing Homes
Are California’s assisted-living facilities getting any safer for elderly residents? You might remember a series of reports in U-T San Diego about the prevalence of “deadly neglect” in assisted living facilities throughout our state. While efforts have been underway over the last couple of years to change the culture in California’s assisted-living facilities and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs), it is difficult to know whether or not we can trust that a facility will provide proper care for our elderly loved ones. Nursing home abuse and neglect remains a serious issue in Southern California and, indeed, across the country.
According to a recent news release from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), a facility in Anaheim was cited for serious violations in connection with elder abuse and neglect. What else do you need to know about the recent citations and what they say about the safety of assisted-living facilities in California?
Report Suggests Patterns of Elder Abuse and Neglect
What happens when a nursing home resident cannot make medical decisions for herself but she has no family members to rely upon? Last summer, we told you about a case that went before the Alameda County Superior Court, which put some of the power back in the hands of nursing home residents. A recent article in the California Health Report emphasized the far-reaching implications of this decision, and the ways in which there are both potential pros and cons for nursing home residents.
CANHR’s Case Against the California Department of Public Health (CDPH)
Before we discuss some of the recent commentary on the court decision from June of 2015, it is important to recall the key issues at stake in this case. According to the article, the advocacy group California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) filed a lawsuit against the CDPH, arguing against the constitutionality of “a California statute allowing nursing homes to make medical decisions for residents incapable of doing that for themselves and who have no family or legal representatives.”
Federal laws exist to prevent nursing homes from removing elderly residents into hospitals, yet the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) are alleging that the state of California is doing just that, according to a recent press release. The nonprofit advocacy group argues that “California nursing homes have been sending Medi-Cal residents to acute care hospitals and refusing to allow them to return to the nursing homes where they reside.”
CANHR has described the state’s actions as “patient dumping,” according to a report from Southern California Public Radio. And dumping patients is not just an issue for older adults or for those of us with elderly loved ones. If the allegations turn out to be true, they will have cost taxpayers in California more than $70 million over the last decade.
Federal Requirements and Readmission to Nursing Facilities
Changes are on the way for nursing homes and California assisted living facilities. In the midst of shifts to the law, victims of nursing home abuse are filing a class action lawsuit against the owner of 57 skilled nursing facilities in the state, according to an article from Courthouse News Service. The owner, Schlomo Rechnitz, owns more facilities in the state than any other, with nursing homes in nine different California cities, according to a recent report in the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Rechnitz’s facilities are accused of “chronic understaffing” with allegations of “Actual or suspected abuse or neglect.”
Details of the Class Action Lawsuit
The lawsuit was filed after several years of investigation into the practices at many of Rechnitz’s facilities. Rechnitz owns Brius Management and Brius LLC, and he owns nursing homes in Inglewood, Los Angeles, Norwalk, Pasadena, San Gabriel, and several other California cities.
Collaboration on Dementia Awareness and Abuse
Do you have a parent who currently suffers from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia? These degenerative brain diseases are difficult not only on patients, but also on their family members and caregivers. In response to elder abuse advocates’ concerns about educating and empowering family members of those with dementia, a number of organizations have teamed up to provide a series of “webinars” this summer.
According to a recent press release from the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the ACL will join the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute on Aging (NIA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in hosting a series of three webinars in July, August, and September. The organizations have collaborated in order to “increase knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia,” as well as to provide “resources that professionals in the public health, aging services, and research networks can use to inform, educate, and empower community members.” More education about the risks associated with dementia care can help family members and caregivers to quickly spot and report signs of elder abuse.
Over the last year, California assisted living facilities have been under intense scrutiny by elder care advocates and the public alike. Just last month, California legislators appeared at a press conference in Sacramento to unveil plans for new bills that will encourage assisted living facility reforms throughout the state. The reforms will come “as part of the RCFE Reform Act of 2014,” according to a press release from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR).
As you might recall, an RCFE is a residential care facility for the elderly. In California, RCFEs, also known as assisted living facilities, are responsible for a lower level of care than a nursing home, but they must still be licensed with the state. According to the Department of Social Services, RCFEs can “provide care, supervision and assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing and grooming.” They can also “provide incidental medical services under special care plans,” but they can’t administer significant medical treatment or care.
The reforms may be able to curb certain acts of elder abuse in our state, but it’s still important to keep an eye out for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect if you have an elderly loved one in a facility.
Coming in close proximity to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) featured an article about LGBT rights in the nursing home. According to the Washington Blade, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) clarified that LGBT couples will have the same guaranteed access to their partners and spouses as other married couples.
How will this affect nursing home residents in California? It will help secure LGBT rights in our state, which a number of California agencies have already been working toward.
LGBT Elder Advocacy in California