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Articles Posted in Dependent Adult Abuse

NAMI_logoWhat do you know about mental health and nursing home neglect?

According to an article in Psychology Today, mental illness has become “the biggest economic burden of any health issue in the world, costing $2.5 trillion in 2010” alone. By 2030, that cost is expected to nearly triple to $6 trillion. However, despite the prevalence and costliness of mental illness—approximately 450 million people across the world currently suffer from some form of mental illness—the article emphasizes that mental health conditions continue to carry a stigma that prevents us as a society from talking about them openly and honestly. Unsurprisingly, the continued stigma of mental health or mental illness also makes its way into nursing homes, where patients who suffer from a mental health condition often becomes victims of nursing home abuse or neglect.

What can we do to prevent elder neglect among mental health patients?

800px-Woman_readingOver the past several months, California residents have been hearing news about nursing homes in our state and throughout the country evicting patients for whom it is more difficult to provide care. For example, an article in Modern Healthcare emphasized that nursing home patients who are “targeted for eviction are frequently poor and suffering from dementia.” Numerous lawsuits have been filed in relation to such evictions, and a recent press release from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) suggests that elder safety advocates may be gaining ground.

Modesto Elder Care Center Cited for Evicting ‘Long-Term’ Residents

According to the press release, Avalon Care Center, a Modesto-area nursing home, has been cited for illegal patient eviction practices. The press release notes that the California Department of Public Health (DPH) recently levied “a whopping 29 citations” against the care center in Modesto “for engaging in a reprehensible and systematic illegal eviction program to force out undesirable ‘long-term’ residents.” Why did the facility evict these residents? It was not actually for some of the same reasons noted in the Modern Healthcare article mentioned above.

file000790132663If an elderly California resident is declared incompetent and placed under a conservatorship (also known in many places as a guardianship), can that senior actually be at greater risk of elder abuse? According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, conservatorships and guardianships are “ideally a protection for older adults.” However, as the article explains, a conservatorship “is a drastic measure often prompted by warring relatives, nursing homes that want to get paid, or a ‘friend’ who gains the trust of an older adult in order to take advantage of him or her.” While these typically are worst-case-scenario examples, it is important to think carefully about the potential links between conservatorships and nursing home abuse in Southern California.

What is a Conservatorship?

The California Courts make clear that a conservatorship involves an adult (the “conservatee”) who either “cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her own finances” and a responsible person or entity (the “conservator”) to care for that adult. The Court’s website explains that general conservatorships, like the scenario described above, often involve an elderly person.

red_coatWhen an elderly California resident requires care in a nursing home, it is often because he or she can no longer live at home and requires more care than a place such as a residential care facility for the elderly (RCFE) or assisted-living facility might be able to provide. However, according to a recent article from the Associated Press, nursing home patients who are more challenging and for whom it is more difficult for staff members to provide care are being targeted for eviction. The topic of nursing home evictions and elder abuse has been an issue for several months now, with advocates arguing that nursing homes and other facilities are refusing to readmit patients following hospital stays. For example, an NPR report emphasized the severity of these allegations and the implications for senior health and well-being.

Yet now, according to an analysis conducted by the Associated Press, it looks as though patients at skilled nursing facilities who require more extended care than other patients may also be subject to wrongful evictions. When elderly patients who need nursing home care are evicted without warning and for reasons beyond the resident’s control, are we looking at situations of nursing home abuse?

Seniors with Dementia Alleged to be Targeted by Skilled Nursing Facilities

handsOne of the largest nursing homes in Stockton, CA is facing numerous allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect, according to a recent article from Recordnet.com. Reports from patients and their families allege lack of privacy, physical abuse, and serious neglect at Wagner Heights Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. What else do you need to know about these allegations? Can they help families to understand the importance of researching a nursing home or assisted-living facility before allowing an elderly loved one to become a resident at a facility without the best patient ratings?

Serious Citations at Wagner Heights Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Based on data provided by California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), Wagner “has been issued the greatest number of serious citations going back to 2010 . . . of any skilled nursing home in Stockton.” Over the last six years, it has received six serious citations. Why were those citations issued? According to the article, the following represent some of the most serious fines levied against Wagner Heights:

handsAccording to a recent article from NBC Los Angeles, two staff members at a caregiver facility in Rancho Cucamonga were accused of elder abuse in the cases of two residents, and investigators indicate that “there may be more victims.” When we think of caregivers and elder abuse, we typically think of scenarios that occur outside nursing home settings. However, it is important to remember that employees of nursing facilities are responsible for providing proper care to seniors. In the recent case, authorities made clear that the victims themselves were “unable to communicate,” yet police obtained evidence to support allegations of dependent adult abuse.

What else do you need to know about caregiver abuse? According to a publication from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), caregiver abuse is commonly a crime that occurs within families. By taking a close look at the publication, we can address some of the factors that may play a role in situations of caregiver abuse within and outside a senior’s home.

Caregiver Stress and its Relation to Elder Abuse

Shower headOver the past couple of years elder advocates have been paying a significant amount of attention to physical abuse and neglect at nursing homes in the San Diego area. It is important to remember that nursing home abuse can take many forms, including emotional and psychological abuse. According to a recent report from ABC 10 News, allegations of elder abuse at a Vista facility have resulted in an investigation by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. The article indicates that an employee at the LifeHOUSE Vista Healthcare Center has been “accused of using her cellphone to take footage of a patient getting in the shower, and then posting it on the internet.”

Elder Abuse Investigation in Vista

The elder abuse investigation in Vista got underway after someone who viewed the online video “took a screen grab” of it and sent it to ABC 10 News. The video was taken on Snapchat. According to the report, “it shows a partially nude woman from the shoulders up,” and there is an employee “standing behind her laughing.”

Profiting from Bad Hospice Ethics

Last week, we discussed a recent phenomenon in the hospice care industry that’s quickly becoming an elder abuse concern. Specifically, hospice—a form of care designed to allow “patients to die at home or in other familiar surroundings,” according to an article in the Washington Post—has turned into a financially lucrative business. But is it an ethical one? Are hospice companies acting outside the boundaries of the law? And is it possible to take legal action against hospice chains that recruit patients who aren’t suffering from a terminal illness?

Old%20Dying%20Woman.jpgFirst, it’s important to have a clear idea about why hospices are bringing in relatively healthy older adults, and how these companies are profiting from non-terminal patients. How did this start to happen? In short, many hospice care centers have begun recruiting patients with aggressive marketing tactics, and many of those patients aren’t terminal. It’s in the financial interest of a hospice chain to “find patients well before death,” the Washington Post reported. And the reason is simple: “Medicare pays a hospice about $150 a day per patient for routine care, regardless of whether the company sends a nurse or any other worker out that day. That means healthier patients, who generally need less help and live longer, yield more profits.”

About a month ago, the New York Daily News reported that fourteen nursing home residents at Valley Manor Community Care Home, also called Valley Springs Manor, were abandoned in “filthy and unsafe” conditions. According to the article, some of the residents at this Castro Valley, California facility were bedridden, while others were ill and simply required significant care. Reporters from NBC Bay Area referred to the situation as a “botched closure,” as the California Department of Social Services had closed the nursing facility days before but hadn’t accounted for the safety of these residents. At the time, these social services officials closed nursing home “because of deplorable conditions.”

Sheriff%27s%20Badge.jpgWhen we think about transitioning an elderly loved one into a nursing home or an assisted-living facility, we expect that the facility will provide care and won’t engage in acts of nursing home abuse or neglect. However, nursing home abuse occurs more often than we’d like to think. If you’re concerned about a loved one’s safety or care, a California elder justice advocate can discuss your case with you today.

Details of the Nursing Home Shut Down and Resident Abandonment

A few days ago, Los Angeles’ local ABC 10 News released an article about the Ensign Group’s agreement to a $48 million settlement related to claims of Medicare billing fraud at six nursing facilities in Southern California. And the Medicare fraud wasn’t the worst of it. According to the article, “the lawsuit also claimed some patients were kept in the nursing homes longer than was necessary.” Indeed, the story quickly became national news, as Market Watch from the Wall Street Journal reported on the pricey settlement brought about by the qui tam (or whistleblower) lawsuit.

Cash%20Stack%20Credit.jpgNursing home abuse has been in the spotlight in California over the last couple of months, and as a result, this news might not come as much of a surprise. But it does emphasize that, even though California elder advocates are creating substantial awareness campaigns, nursing home neglect and abuse continues to occur in our state. Do you have an elderly parent or loved one who currently resides in a nursing home or assisted-living facility? It’s important to make sure that your loved one receives the care she or he needs. If you suspect your older parent has been the victim of nursing home abuse, it’s important to contact an experienced California elder law attorney. The dedicated nursing home abuse lawyers at the Walton Law Firm have been handling these cases for years and can discuss your claim with you today.

Details of the Ensign Group’s Medicare Fraud

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