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Articles Posted in Los Angeles Nursing Home

Although nursing homes in Orange County and throughout Southern California are largely focused on issues pertaining to COVID-19 infections and methods of preventing illness and death among residents and patients, it is important to remember that long-term care facilities still have other duties when it comes to resident safety. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities in California need to provide a certain level of care to patients in order to prevent injuries from happening solely as a result of inadequate care. Many injuries in nursing homes happen because a resident tried to get out of bed herself after being unable to reach a nurse, or a resident fell because a staff member was not providing proper observation.

 
To be clear, many injuries in nursing homes do not result from bad intentions, but rather from a lack of care often due to inadequate staffing. As many staff members call in sick with COVID-19 and staff members are swamped with coronavirus mitigation duties, more residents could be at risk of a fall-related injury. The following are five things to know about falls in nursing homes.

 
Adults Aged 65 and Older Fall More Often Than You Might Think

Virus_Outbreak_California_Nursing_Homes_57249-300x208One of the great tragedies of the coronavirus pandemic is the disparate impact it has had on some of our most vulnerable citizens including elderly patients residing in Southern California nursing homes. Thousands of elderly nursing home residents across the country have died from coronavirus. Indeed, one of the first coronavirus outbreaks occurred in a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington where 129 residents, staff, and visitors fell ill with covid-19 and 40 died. In an unexpected twist of logic, many nursing homes are discharging long-term residents to care for patients with coronavirus. Why? Money, of course, even though this presents an increased risk to other residents of nursing homes and to their staff.

Caring for a patient sick with Covid-19 earns a Los Angeles nursing home, for example, significantly more money than can be charged for a non-Covid-19 patient who needs assistance with long term more mild conditions. In the fall of 2019, Medicare funding changed offering increased payments to nursing homes caring for patients who have recently been discharged from the hospital. The first weeks after their discharge, nursing homes earn up to four times of the daily amount offered for a long-term resident. For example, a nursing home can earn $800 per day for a COVID-19 patient while earning only $200 per day for a patient with dementia.

Thus, nursing homes have great incentive to attract those patients recently released from hospitals who are severely ill and require skilled nursing. To have the space to care for those patients, nursing homes must free up beds in their facilities. How does that happen? The long-term, less valuable patients are discharged, often under conditions that imperil their health and safety. Families of the soon to be discharged patients are called and told their loved one will be discharged sometimes in as few as 10 days, leaving no time to plan for or to find appropriate alternative housing for the patient. Little consideration is given to a patient’s level of income or to their well-being. Instead, the nursing homes while turning their backs on their vulnerable long-term residents tout their care of Covid-19 patients as a public benefit.

If you have an elderly loved one in a San Diego County nursing home or in a skilled nursing facility elsewhere in California, it is important to know about liability for COVID-19 infections and what facilities are doing—or not doing, in many cases—to prevent infections. According to a recent article in Time Magazine, nursing homes across the country are seeking immunity from COVID-19 lawsuits, arguing that patients and their families cannot allege nursing home neglect as a result of the spread of coronavirus. An article in The New York Times recently explained how California nursing homes, along with facilities in places like New York and New Jersey, are being encouraged to take COVID-19 patients from hospitals, which many are doing in order to increase profits.

 
What do you need to know about nursing home claims and what it would mean if facilities were immune from lawsuits?

 
Nursing Home Neglect Claims Tied to COVID-19 Infections

markus-spiske-3_SvgDspSTE-unsplash-copy-300x200Nursing home patients in San Diego County and throughout the U.S. are particularly vulnerable to infections and illness as a result of age and underlying conditions, even when the world is not experiencing a coronavirus pandemic. However, in this moment of the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, news reports across the country are reflecting the ways in which nursing home residents are uniquely vulnerable to the virus and, in particular, to death as a result of contracting it. As such, many nursing homes have limited how visitors can see their loved ones at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in order to prevent the spread of the virus among the elderly. At a moment when residents of California’s nursing homes are especially vulnerable to illness, the Trump Administration announced plans to relax federal oversight of nursing homes. 

According to a recent article in The New York Times, the Trump Administration’s proposal “would loosen federal rules meant to control infections, just as the coronavirus rips through nursing homes.” The following is some information you should know about plans to relax federal oversight of nursing homes and what that could mean for elderly residents.

Rule Changes Were Proposed Last Summer

eduard-militaru-Q4PvX80itZ0-unsplash-copy-300x200Are changing demographics at nursing homes in Orange County, California impacting rates of elder abuse and neglect in those facilities? According to a recent article in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, new research considering the effects of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA 87) is having more of an impact on nursing home demographics than many of us might expect. In short, more nursing homes are admitting patients from hospitals, the diversity of nursing home residents has increased, and the overall percentage of nonprofit nursing homes and other facilities has risen. 

Researchers believe that these shifts should continue as we move into the future, and that they may help to reduce the rate of nursing home abuse and neglect in some instances. The research cited in the article appeared in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine this month. We want to tell you more about the findings.

OBRA 87 was Supposed to Improve the Quality of Care in Nursing Homes

coronavirus_2019-300x169The recent outbreak of coronavirus in a skilled nursing facility in Washington has exposed the susceptibility of nursing home residents to this virus. News reports have indicated that the Washington facility was found to be understaffed with inadequate gear attempting to serve dozens of patients vulnerable to catching the virus. Those reports also indicate children and other relatives of patients in the facility have been attempting to sound the alarm about conditions in the facility for weeks.

The arrival of the coronavirus in the United States has come at a time when we already have ongoing problems associated with caring for the American elderly, one of the country’s most vulnerable populations, especially as long-term care is frequently understaffed and underfunded. It is only be a matter of time before Southern California nursing homes and assisted living facilities will be impacted by the virus. Accordingly, these nursing facilities need to be adequately prepared to handle the virus and proactively work to prevent its introduction into its patient population, and its spread.

As stated, this is especially important given that nursing homes and other care facilities, including assisted living facilities, are particularly vulnerable for viruses: Residents inside are older and live in close proximity. Moreover, many residents don’t know enough not to touch other residents’ foods, drink others waters, rub their own eyes, and touch their own mouths.

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.”

jorge-lopez-284336-copy-300x200If you are seeking out a nursing home for an elderly loved one in Orange County, it can be difficult to identify a facility that has a strong history of complying with safety regulations and providing quality care for patients. While you might think that a more expensive nursing home is less likely to engage in hiring practices that could lead to injuries caused by nursing home abuse or neglect, the price of a nursing home is not necessarily indicative of its quality. Even expensive nursing homes can have safety citations and histories of nursing home abuse injuries. According to a recent article in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has plans to update its “Nursing Home Compare” information to include an “abuse icon” that will alert potential patients and their families to dangerous histories of abuse and neglect. 

CMS Data Update Will Add an Abuse Icon

Currently, potential nursing home residents and their families can access information about nursing homes from the CMS “Nursing Home Compare” website. The website allows consumers to compare multiple nursing homes, assessing CMS ratings for those facilities and other important information that can illuminate whether the nursing home is a good fit. Yet that data can be difficult to navigate, especially for individuals and families who do not have experience analyzing detailed information about nursing homes. In order to make it easier to assess these facilities and to learn whether the facility has a recent history of abuse, CMS will be adding an “abuse alert icon.”

obed-hernandez-592136-unsplash-copy-212x300If you are seeking out a nursing home for an elderly loved one in Orange County, it can be difficult to identify a facility that has a strong history of complying with safety regulations and providing quality care for patients. While you might think that a more expensive nursing home is less likely to engage in hiring practices that could lead to injuries caused by nursing home abuse or neglect, the price of a nursing home is not necessarily indicative of its quality. Even expensive nursing homes can have safety citations and histories of nursing home abuse injuries. According to a recent article in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has plans to update its “Nursing Home Compare” information to include an “abuse icon” that will alert potential patients and their families to dangerous histories of abuse and neglect. 

CMS Data Update Will Add an Abuse Icon

Currently, potential nursing home residents and their families can access information about nursing homes from the CMS “Nursing Home Compare” website. The website allows consumers to compare multiple nursing homes, assessing CMS ratings for those facilities and other important information that can illuminate whether the nursing home is a good fit. Yet that data can be difficult to navigate, especially for individuals and families who do not have experience analyzing detailed information about nursing homes. In order to make it easier to assess these facilities and to learn whether the facility has a recent history of abuse, CMS will be adding an “abuse alert icon.”

brandon-holmes-199535-unsplash-copy-300x200Whether you have a loved one who currently resides in a nursing home or an assisted-living facility, or if a former neighbor or co-worker lives in a nursing facility and you visit regularly, it is important to know how to spot signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. Yet simply being able to identify possible symptoms of elder abuse is only the first step. If you do not have any familiarity with the legal system or the health care system in San Diego County, it can be difficult to know what to do once you have concerns about elder abuse. This is particularly true if you do not know the senior well and want to help, but you do not know where to turn. 

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the California Institute on Aging provides information about identifying and reporting elder abuse and neglect, and we want to discuss some of those steps and options with you below.

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