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Articles Posted in Elder Care

obed-hernandez-592136-unsplash-copy-212x300Whether you have an elderly loved one at a nursing home or assisted-living facility in San Bernardino County or elsewhere in California, you may have had concerns about elder abuse risks. It can be difficult for older adults and their family members to know whether a nursing home or assisted-living facility is more likely than another to engage in nursing home abuse or neglect, especially when the facility has no history of abuse or safety violations. What may be a deciding factor, according to a recent article in The New York Times, is the resident-to-staff ratio, or the patient-to-staff ratio at the facility. 

Class Action Lawsuit Raises Issues About Understaffing

Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities with poor staffing ratios may have higher rates of neglect. Indeed, as that article explains, a class action lawsuit in California against a chain of assisted-living facilities contends that, “when staff members [at these facilities] conduct periodic assessments—to determine whether a resident needs help bathing or dressing, for example, or suffers from dementia—the facilities don’t use the results to determine an adequate number of staff members.” Rather, the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit contend, staffing decisions are based on the nursing home’s economic well-being. Accordingly, facilities like those named in the class action are routinely understaffed.

dominik-lange-VUOiQW4OeLI-unsplash-1-copy-300x200The population of Southern California is aging rapidly, as it is in many other regions of the state and the country. As more older adults require care in nursing homes and move into assisted-living facilities, those seniors may be at greater risk of suffering injuries as a result of elder abuse and neglect. Yet most instances of nursing home abuse or neglect are preventable. Indeed, if California nursing facilities had more staff members, had better screening processes for elder care licenses, and took more steps to prevent injuries like falls in nursing homes, fewer older adults would get hurt. According to a recent article in StateofReform.com, several new laws will take effect in California in 2020, and many of them are designed to help older adults. 

We want to tell you more about these laws and to explain how they may help to prevent senior injuries in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

SB 280: Reassessing the California Residential Code and Fall Prevention

rawpixel-1055781-unsplash-1-300x201A new federal nursing home bill is designed to prevent elder abuse, and it could help patients at facilities in San Bernardino County and throughout California. According to a recent article in Skilled Nursing News, the proposed legislation “seeks to protect individuals in nursing homes by implementing more stringent staffing protocols—including increased clinical hours and training—among other safety measures for residents.” Nursing home abuse and neglect often occurs as a result of understaffing. If a federal law were to mandate certain staffing numbers in facilities, rates of abuse and neglect could drop. 

Learning More About the Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents Act

The proposed law is known as the Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents Act. The bill is co-sponsored by two Democratic lawmakers, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Illinois) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut). It has support from lawmakers in both the House and Senate. In addition to requiring certain staffing levels for facilities receiving payments through Medicare and Medicaid, the bill would also make other changes to nursing home mandates. First, nursing staff members would be required to go through “heightened training” and would be subject to heightened “supervision obligations.” This requirement, in connection with the requirement for increased staff numbers, aims to prevent nursing home abuse and neglect by targeting staff at these facilities. Three registered nurses (RNs) would have to be on staff as “management personnel.”

brandon-holmes-199535-unsplash-copy-300x200The primary way that state and federal agencies keep track of nursing home and elder abuse rates in the U.S. is through reporting. In other words, healthcare workers, physicians, nursing home staff, and others who interact with seniors are supposed to report incidents of nursing home abuse or neglect to enforcement agencies. However, according to a recent article in NPR, despite the fact that this kind of reporting is required by law, there is substantial underreporting.

This information comes from a recent report published by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which indicates that “in many cases of abuse or neglect severe enough to require medical attention, the incidents have not been reported to enforcement agencies.” Why does underreporting happen, and what steps can lead to more effective reporting?

Reporting Elder Abuse After Patients Receive Care in Emergency Room

daniele-levis-pelusi-9BObZ4pzn3Y-unsplash-copy-300x225When a patient in an Escondido nursing home suffers serious illness or injury as a result of a “superbug,” is nursing home negligence to blame? In other words, if a facility fails to take proper precautions to prevent nursing home patients from contracting “superbugs,” or medication-resistant bacteria and fungi, can that facility be held responsible for nursing home neglect? That is a question that elder safety advocates have begun asking in the wake of news about superbugs causing serious and fatal injuries in hospitals and nursing homes across the country. 

How Nursing Homes are Grappling with Superbugs

According to a recent article in Kaiser Health News, hospitals and nursing homes in California have begun using a strategy that might strike readers as bizarre at first: The facilities have started “washing patients with a special soap.” Along with facilities in Illinois, California nursing homes and hospitals are among the first to begin using this strategy, funded by about $8 million in total from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In all, about 50 facilities in both California and Illinois are employing this new procedure.

victor-garcia-718191-unsplash-copy-200x300Discussions about the use of cameras in nursing homes in Orange County and throughout Southern California have become common as lawmakers, safety advocates, and family members seek innovative solutions to prevent nursing home abuse and neglect and to gain evidence to hold perpetrators accountable. Yet, are cameras in residents’ rooms the best way to stop nursing home abuse, or are there significant ethical issues that we need to consider before we decide that the benefits of “granny cams,” as these cameras are commonly called, outweigh their limitations? 

A recent article in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News addresses the ethics of “granny cams” in nursing homes and suggests that more research needs to be done concerning these tools before they become widespread.

Are Nursing Home Cameras Ethical, or do They Invade Residents’ Privacy?

daan-stevens-282446-1-copy-300x191There are many different ways that elder abuse and neglect can happen in Rancho Bernardo, and seniors can suffer from a variety of injuries as a result of nursing home negligence. While we often think about scenarios in which injuries can occur in skilled nursing facilities, should older adults and their families also be thinking more carefully about elder neglect or negligence in hospitals, and what this means for a senior’s long-term health? According to a recent article in The New York Times, many elderly hospital patients end up suffering serious injuries as a result of “post-hospital syndrome.”

What is post-hospital syndrome? In brief, it is tied to hospital readmissions and inadequate care among seniors, according to the article. Who is responsible when elderly patients sustain serious injuries as a result of post-hospital syndrome?

Understanding the Harms of Hospital Readmissions Among Seniors

josh-appel-423804-copy-300x225Whether nursing home patients reside at a skilled nursing facility in Escondido or elsewhere in California, they now have greater protections against elder abuse and neglect. According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, a new California state law requires that patients receive a minimum number of hours of care from certified nursing assistants (CNAs). The law took effect on July 1, 2018, but will patients see an immediate change in the way staffing works at nursing homes across the state? Will staffing increases reduce the rates of nursing home neglect in the state?

Staffing Requirements Stricter, But Will Facilities Meet Those Requirements?

Under the new law, what kinds of staffing requirements are required at nursing homes in Escondido and throughout California? As of July 1, facilities must provide each patient with at least 3.5 hours of direct care every day. This number increased from a previous requirement of 3.2 hours of direct patient care per day. But that change is not the most drastic of the shifts in the law. The significant change is that at least 2.4 of these daily hours of direct patient care must be provided by CNAs.

rawpixel-487102-unsplash-copy-300x207One of the most common reasons that seniors sustain serious injuries from nursing home neglect is understaffing. When skilled nursing facilities do not have enough staff members, there are not enough people to provide the necessary care to patients and residents at the facility. Both California state law and federal law require skilled nursing facilities to have a specific staff-to-patient ratio to help ensure that seniors are getting the care they need. However, according to a recent article in The New York Times, many nursing homes across the country have been overstating their staffing numbers in order to be in compliance with state and federal regulations. As a result, patients have been suffering from nursing home abuse and neglect.

Federal Data Shows Inadequate Staffing Levels at Many Nursing Homes

For many years, according to the article, numerous family members of seniors in skilled nursing facilities have worried that staffing levels were insufficient. As it turns out, many of those suspicions and fears have some validity to them. Indeed, “on the worst staffed days at an average facility, the new data show, on-duty personnel cared for nearly twice as many residents as they did when the staffing roster was fullest.” Records also showed that there were significant fluctuations in staffing numbers at many facilities from day to day, with some days having adequate staff while others had grossly inadequate staff on hand to meet the needs of the residents.

jorge-lopez-284336-copy-300x200Did you know that a majority of elder abuse cases in Vista and throughout California likely go unreported? According to a report from Calaveras Enterprise, research suggests that “for every case of elder or dependent adult abuse known to agencies, 24 more are unknown.” Crimes against seniors in Southern California more generally are on the rise. The City of San Diego predicts that less than 20% of all incidents of elder abuse and neglect are reported in San Diego County. How can raising community awareness help to increase the rates of nursing home abuse reporting in Vista?

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect is Vastly Underreported, but Raising Awareness can Help

In short, elder abuse is underreported. According to a report from Kusi News, reports of violent crimes against older adults in San Diego County rose by about 37% between 2016 and 2017. In each California county, more than 300 reports of suspected elder abuse are logged each year. If we accept that, for every single case reported there are 24 more unreported cases, that fact would mean that there are more than 7,000 incidents of elder abuse each year in San Diego County. Each month in California, the state Adult Protective Services (APS) gets more than 15,000 reports of elder abuse in the state, and the California Association of Area Agencies of Aging indicates that the number of reported abuse incidents is slowly increasing.