Articles Posted in San Diego Nursing Home

799px-Alcohol_bottles_photographed_while_drunkHow broad is the term nursing home neglect? For instance, when a senior has a problem with drug or alcohol abuse and lives in a nursing home or an assisted-living facility in Southern California, does the facility have a duty to prevent the senior from obtaining potentially harmful substances? And if the facility knows about a history of drug or alcohol abuse and does not take precautions to limit a senior resident’s access to alcohol or prescription drugs, can the nursing home be responsible for injuries that occur? According to a fact sheet from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), it can be difficult to recognize signs and symptoms of substance abuse among older adults.

Should we be able to expect that facilities will look into signs and symptoms of substance abuse among elderly residents? And if a facility in San Diego already knows that one of its residents has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, what must it do differently in other to avoid allegations of nursing home negligence?

Difficulty Identifying Senior Residents with Substance Abuse Problems

Vr_(14798594120)A recent article in Reuters Health reported that one out of every five nursing home residents that suffers verbal or physical nursing home abuse is not enduring that abuse at the hands of one of the staff members at a facility. Rather, about 20% of all verbal and physical nursing home abuse cases involve violence committed by another resident. While these cases may result from serious issues of nursing home neglect and understaffing (and the general failure to properly monitor patients in a facility), a recent article from NPR and KQED News, a new virtual reality device is helping seniors in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities to remain calmer and to, perhaps, live fuller lives.

Can such technology help to prevent elder abuse when it is perpetrated by other residents?

Virtual Reality Improving the Lives of Seniors

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.”

For elderly adults who live on their own or in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, falls can result in serious and life-threatening injuries. While falls are not the result of elder abuse, they can occur when there is a clear issue of nursing home neglect. A recent article in the New York Times emphasized that the number of reported falls among older adults—many of those accidents leading to serious and sometimes fatal injuries—is a number that is “soaring.”

Nursing Home Regulations file000289604980Aimed at Preventing Falls

How can nursing homes take steps to prevent dangerous falls? The New York Times article discusses the policies put in place recently by a retirement community which require that, during mealtimes, residents who use walkers to get around must have their walkers “valet parked” after they find a seat at the table. In addition, they are not permitted to use their walkers during the meal—they must stay in their seats while staff members serve them. While many residents of the facility argued that the policy “infringed on [one’s] freedom of movement,” it prevented a number of serious falls at the buffet.

When we think about nursing home abuse and neglect, most of us imagine a scenario in which a healthcare professional or nursing home employee mistreats an elderly resident. However, a recent study conducted by Cornell University Weill Medical College found that many facilities actually see “a high level of resident-to-resident elder mistreatment.”

Nursing home abuse can take many different forms, and it can result in serious and life-threatening injuries to your elderly loved one. If you believe that your parent has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, do not hesitate to contact an experienced San Diego elder abuse lawyer.

file0001780974018Aggressive Encounters with Fellow Residents

Statistics in Southern California suggest that elder abuse is an extremely underreported crime, which means that many older adults suffer injuries while their abuses go unpunished. A recent article in the Los Angeles Daily News reported that Los Angeles officials recently indicated that the city will take greater efforts to protect the elderly from nursing home abuse. How will these new measures work? In short, millions of dollars in funding are going to flow in from the Department of Justice and the Verizon Corporation.

DSC_5767Elder Abuse Prevention Grants to the City of Los Angeles

Will San Diego be able to get the kind of funding that Los Angeles recently received? Grants totaling $1.6 million were provided in Los Angeles primarily to train police officers to recognize signs and symptoms of elder abuse—a skill that officials hope will lead to more abuse and neglect reporting. Last year, the Los Angeles Police Department saw a shockingly low number of elder abuse reports—only 100. To place that number in perspective, the LAPD received more than 11,000 claims of domestic violence reports in 2013.

Earlier this month, the Sacramento Bee ran a story that exposed the lack of oversight from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) when it comes to nursing home abuse allegations. What is going on? According to the article, the CDPH is “weighed down by a backlog of more than 11,000 open complaints” with “no clear path to dig its way out.”

Evidence of this serious problem became cID-10045437lear after an audit report was released toward the end of October 2014. In short, the CDPH appears to have failed elderly adults in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities by failing to manage its investigations of elder abuse complaints received.

Numerous Problems “Up and Down the State”

Did you know that Southern California is home to the largest Latino and Asian populations in the country? According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, elderly persons within these populations may not be getting a fair deal in elder abuse cases. When claims go to court, it is important for a judge or a jury to understand a plaintiff’s injuries and to grasp the extent of the nursing home abuse or neglect that took place. However, when your first language is not English, it is sometimes extremely difficult to mIMG_1930ake your way through the justice system.

Language Barriers to Legal Forms, Filings, and Testimonies

In California alone, the Los Angeles Times estimates that there are about seven million “limited-English proficient speakers,” and for those people, the civil court system is “practically impenetrable.” What is the problem?

First Nursing Home Facility Rating System in California

As the population of California continues to age, and more baby boomers find themselves thinking about San Diego assisted-living facilities and nursing homes, it is becoming more important than ever to ensure that seniors in the San Diego area are protected from nursing home abuse and neglect.  According to a recent story San Diego CBS 8, San Diego County leaders currently are in the process of developing an elder care facility rating system that is aimed at preventing elder abuse.

file0001867553256According to the news story, the new rating system will be the first of its kind in California.  The ratings will be based on several different factors, and the Board of Supervisors hopes that the system will allow families to make informed decisions about the care of their elderly loved ones. The system is still in its early stages, but the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved its creation, emphasizing the need to protect older adults from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse in Southern California facilities.

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