Articles Posted in Residential Care 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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Many of us know that the population of seniors in California is growing, and that it will continue to expand over the next couple of decades. According to statistics from the Administration on Aging (AoA), Americans aged 65 and older made up a little over 14% of the population in 2013 (or around 44.7 million people). That number is expected to grow to nearly 22% of the population by the year 2040, and it will more than double—to around 98 million people—by the year 2060. What do these numbers mean for the current population of residents in California’s nursing homes and assisted-living facilities? According to a recent article in The Sacramento Bee, “the number of under-65 nursing home residents has surged 40% in a decade,” and it may be producing a “dangerous mix” at facilities.

When nursing homes serve clients in very different age groups, what problems can arise? Do these issues rise to the level of nursing home abuse or neglect?

file3451272140532If you live in a nursing home, do you have the same rights as a tenant who rents a home from a landlord? According to a recent report from NPR, numerous nursing home residents who live the facility for a temporary inpatient hospital visit return to the nursing home only to learn that they have been evicted. As the article makes clear, this pattern results each year in thousands of nursing home residents finding themselves without a place to live, and that often leads to less-than-ideal situations that can involve elder abuse. Currently, federal law protects nursing home residents from these kinds of evictions, but as the article underscores, “those rules are rarely enforced by the states.” As such, California nursing home residents have decided to file claims against the state of California.

Plaintiffs File Claims Over Nursing Home Evictions

According to the NPR report, when nursing home residents cannot return to their rooms at the nursing facility, they are left with very expensive hospital bills and often the inability to receive the specific kind of care provided in a nursing home. For instance, one plaintiff who was evicted from his nursing home is currently living in his hospital room at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento. At the end of May 2015, his nursing home sent him to the hospital to receive treatment for pneumonia. However, once the pneumonia had been treated, the nursing home would not readmit him. As such, he has been living at the hospital for about 260 days now. The financial costs are very high: Medicaid is paying “about 2.5 times what his nursing home cost.”

IMG_0256California and a number of other states have passed laws that permit nursing homes to install cameras and other electronic recording equipment in the private rooms of patients in order to contend with nursing home abuse allegations. These cameras are not intended to invade a resident’s privacy, but rather will only be installed upon the request of a resident. Many elder advocates have praised these laws, suggesting that nursing home staff members will be less likely to engage in acts of abuse if they know they will be recorded on camera. However, according to a recent article in the Pacific Standard, such laws may not be getting at the root of the problem. And as such, laws allowing cameras in nursing homes might not be doing enough to combat the issues at the heart of nursing home abuse and neglect cases.

Recordings to Substantiate Claims of Elder Abuse

According to the article, installing cameras in residents’ rooms at nursing homes intervenes in the issue of elder abuse a bit too late in the process. Rather than exploring the reasons that people engage in acts of nursing home abuse, the cameras (and the footage they record) aim to substantiate claims of abuse when they happen. Or, at best, they might discourage an employee from abusing a particular resident who has a camera installed in his or her room.

file2811310649672According to a recent article from U.S. News & World Report, many nursing homes in California and across the country are working hard to eradicate elder abuse and neglect, but there is still more work to be done. As the article explains, “the next generation of nursing homes is working to shed old stereotypes.” But do cases of nursing home abuse persist?

Changing the Face of Nursing Homes in California

How do most of us imagine nursing facilities when we have not visited loved ones who are residents? The article in U.S. News & World Report notes that, “for many, the image of nursing homes is one of sad, sterile institutions where elderly people are left isolated by family members who stop caring.” Generally speaking, this image of nursing homes is not accurate. We cannot necessarily tell whether a facility is taking good care of its residents—and taking important steps to prevent elder abuse and neglect—just by looking at it. As we have noted in previous posts, numerous nursing homes that have been fined for nursing home abuse or neglect have posh interiors and carry higher price tags than safer facilities.

handsIf California nursing home employees go on strike, who will provide care for patients residing in the facilities? Should families of those patients have concerns about nursing home neglect? According to an article in the Marin Independent Journal, sixty nursing home workers went on strike last month in San Rafael following a string of nursing facility violations from government regulators. The strike was aimed at forcing the nursing facility to cease its understaffing practices and to encourage a work environment in which providing a threshold level of care for patients is among the most important logistics of running the facility. Even if such a strike is intended to improve conditions, who cares for patients while employees are on strike?

Understaffing and High Turnover Limits Quality of Care

The recent strike occurred at San Rafael Healthcare and Wellness Center, which is owned by Brius Healthcare Services. With more than 80 facilities in California, Brius is the largest nursing home chain in our state. For the last 18 months, employees of the nursing home have been working without having a contract. Why are employees working without a contract? About a year and a half ago, those workers rejected the terms of a union-negotiated contracted because it did not do enough to deal with the serious understaffing problem at the facility.

video_surveillance_lawsMany Californians have loved ones in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities. While we want to put our trust in these facilities and to believe that they are treating our elderly parents and relatives properly, many of us worry about the risks of nursing home abuse and neglect. According to a recent article from NBC San Diego, local families want to install cameras in patient bedrooms, “but they are facing a roadblock from the state.”

Documenting Elder Neglect in Southern California

Why wouldn’t the state want to use video cameras in patient rooms to monitor for elder abuse or neglect? According to Joe Balbas, the co-owner of Vista Gardens, “elderly patients in nursing facilities should have the option of having security cameras in their room[s].” Vista Gardens is a residential facility for patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Balbas believes that installing cameras in rooms—at the request of patients and their families—could help to prevent serious injuries.

Amidst news reports of elder abuse and neglect in assisted-living facilities, nursing homes, and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) across the state, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has been criticized for its failure to investigate. What did it fail to investigate, exactly? Elderly patients and their families argue that they reported nursing home abuse incidents to the CDPH, yet they contend that the department didn’t investigate those complaints in a timely manner and failed to properly fine the responsible facilities.

budgetcalculatorMore Funding for Elder Abuse Investigations

According to a recent press release from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), Governor Jerry Brown has proposed a budget for the coming fiscal year that would “add more than $30 million and about 260 positions for the Licensing & Certification Division of the California Department of Public Health.” Yet, the most surprising part of the new budget isn’t merely about licensing and certification. Rather, as the CANHR suggests, it’s about taking complaints about nursing home abuse investigations more seriously.

Many of us know that the state of California has been under intense scrutiny for the way it has handled nursing home abuse and neglect violations. In addition to concerns about the frequency with which the California Department of Public Health has investigated a number of complaints, victim advocates also contend that facilities across the state aren’t fined enough to prevent future elder abuse violations.

According to a recent news release from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), the Department of Public Health has cited a couple of facilities in southern California for serious violations. And, according to the report, each of the facilities received a $75,000 fine—an amount that suggests that the state is heading in the right direction.

empty-bed-in-nursing-homeResident Death at Paramount Meadows

Who looks out for aging Californians who do not have relatives our outside caregivers to keep an eye out for the signs of elder abuse?  The California State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is in place to make sure that older adults receive proper care in long-term care facilities across the state.  What is a long-term care facility?  Examples in California include: nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs).

San Diego residents following the latest news about RCFEs know that many of these facilities in our state have fallen under much scrutiny in recent months, along with many assisted-living facilities.  The Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman program speID-100190126cifically “investigates elder abuse complaints” at facilities such as these.

Services Offered by the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program