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Articles Posted in Southern California Elder Abuse

ian-schneider-95541-300x200How much decision-making power does a Chula Vista nursing home resident get when it comes to his or her quality of care? According to a recent article from Kaiser Health News, seniors in Southern California and across the country may be able to have more autonomy through shifts in federal regulations. As the article explains, around 1.4 million seniors living in nursing homes “now can be more involved in their care under the most wide-ranging revision of federal rules for such facilities in 25 years.”

What does it mean for older adults in nursing homes to have more autonomy over their schedules and care? Could such shifts in care perhaps reduce the rate of nursing home abuse in Southern California and throughout the country?

Shift in Federal Rules Focuses on “Person-Centered Care”

ufomxgheugk-todd-diemer-300x178Advocates for seniors in San Diego County and throughout California have concerns about elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Last year, lawmakers took steps to speed up the rate at which elder abuse cases will be heard in California courts. Specifically, a recent article in the Monterey County Weekly reported on changes to the law in 2016 that will take effect this year, including SB 1065. This bill, proposed by State Senator Bill Monning, was signed into law in 2016 and is schedule to take effect on July 1, 2017. This is not a new law altogether, but rather, as the article clarifies, “builds on the existing Elder and Dependent Adult Civil protection Act to move elder abuse cases through the courts faster.”

Currently, without the law in effect, the article emphasizes that the “appellate process can take more than three years.” Once SB 1065 takes effect, however, all appeals must be decided by the court within 100 days. What else should you know about SB 1065 and its impact on San Diego County seniors?

Details of SB 1065 and its Elder Abuse Protections

LAFD_ambulanceWhen an elderly loved one in San Diego requires nearly constant medical care, many family members are at their most concerned when that loved one has to be hospitalized. However, according to a recent article in California Healthline, one of the most dangerous periods for elderly patients actually starts after they leave the hospital, and perhaps not for the reasons you might think. The problem is not that the elderly person does not receive sufficient care after a hospital visit, but rather that the patient failed to receive proper care while in the healthcare facility. Does this rise to the level of elder neglect?

Problems Associated with Poor Transitional Care

The time between leaving the hospital and receiving care either from a home caregiver or staff members at a nursing home in Southern California is known as a period of “transitional care.” As Alicia Arbaje, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine explains, “poor transitional care is a huge, huge issue for everybody, but especially for older people with complex needs.” While “the most risky transition,” Arbaje explains, “is from hospital to home with the additional need for home care services,” since it is the type of situation about which the least is known, injuries resulting from poor transitional care can also happen when the patient goes from a hospital to a local nursing home.

Very Old LadyIs the quality of life improving for Southern California residents in assisted-living facilities? And if so, how much attention do we need to pay to the risks of nursing home abuse and neglect in these communities if a majority of seniors say they are content? According to a recent article in McKnight’s Senior Living, “residents of assisted living communities in California are very satisfied with their living situations” on the whole. While this is good news for many elder justice advocates in the state, we should not let it obscure the fact that there remain a number of seniors who are not satisfied with their living situations and who become victims of elder abuse.

Although the recent article presents promising data on elderly assisted living in the state, we still need to consider the risks to California seniors who do not fall into this depicted majority.

Many Seniors in California are Indeed Happy, Survey Says

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?

Snapchat_LogoOver the last several months, states across the country have been contending with incidents of nursing home abuse that involve social media. Now, according to a recent report ABC 10 News San Diego, federal authorities are “stepping in to make sure elderly residents of nursing homes and senior care facilities are not abused on social media.” The investigation, according to an article from NPR, comes after ProPublica released a series of reports that showed nursing home employees taking “demeaning photographs and videos of residents and post[ing] them on social media.”

Will an investigation by federal health regulators actually be able to put a stop to this kind of elder abuse?

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Issues Memo Regarding Social Media Abuse

file3451272140532How often does the California Department of Public Health fine nursing homes and assisted-living facilities for elderly patient injuries and deaths? When facilities do receive significant fines as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, are those fines sufficient to protect other residents in the future? According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Daily News, the California Department of Public Health issued a $75,000 fine for a Southern California nursing home due to neglect resulting in a patient’s death.

Fatal Injuries Caused By Nursing Home Neglect in Canoga Park

As the article explains, Topanga Terrace, a nursing home in Canoga Park, was issued a $75,000 fine “after staff there failed to monitor a resident who kept removing his own breathing tube, resulting in death.” The patient needed a tracheostomy tube in order to breathe following a surgery in 2013. In addition to the use of the tracheostomy tube, the patient also “suffered from multiple illnesses including dementia, chronic respiratory failure, and tuberculosis.” Despite his medical needs, however, the facility did not have a treatment plan that included methods to prevent or deter the patient from removing his breathing tube.

DSC_1071Given that the elderly population of Southern California continues to grow, we need to invest time and effort into preventing elder abuse and nursing home abuse, according to a recent article in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. While we continue to discuss the problem of elder abuse in our country and to engage in awareness-raising efforts, elder abuse and neglect remains a problem—and in some areas, the problem is getting bigger. Skilled nursing facilities and other long-term care facilities for the elderly need to do more to prevent elder abuse and neglect.

Placing the Burden on Nursing Home Directors to Properly Train Staff

As the article explains, statistics tell us that around 10% of America’s seniors become victims of elder abuse, “but that statistic alone does not come close to telling the full story of the epidemic.” The article underscores, “for every incident of abuse that does get reported, an estimated 22 do not.” What that fact means is that a majority of elderly Americans are suffering from elder neglect and nursing home abuse, and in many of those cases, the violence goes unreported. What can we do to prevent this kind of abuse? According to the article, much of the impetus is on “nursing home leaders who want to prevent abuse before it happens” by “focus[ing] on training their staff in skills that reduce interpersonal tension and stress.”

red-cross-29930_1280We often hear news about instances of nursing home abuse and neglect in which an elderly patient dies after being taken to a hospital after it is much too late. Particularly in cases of elder neglect, a patient may require care at a hospital. However, if a facility is understaffed and does not call for an ambulance in time, an elderly patient may not receive the care he or she ultimately needs. What if those patients could be rushed to a geriatric emergency department equipped to handle specific senior medical issues, including those related to elder neglect? According to a recent article in The San Diego Union-Tribune, a geriatric ER will soon be coming to UCSD and will provide specialized care to elderly residents in Southern California.

Complex Medical Needs Among the Elderly

When and where will the new geriatric emergency unit appear? It is currently in the planning stages, but the ER will become part of the Thornton Hospital at UC San Diego through an $11.8 million grant provided by the Gary and Mary West Foundation. According to the article, this emergency department “will be the first in the region to focus solely on seniors,” which is an important fact given that more Californians are reaching old age. The “complex medical needs” of the elderly, even when abuse or neglect is not a factor, “are expected to strain available resources as the baby boom generation reaches retirement age.”

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:

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