Our office opens regular office hours during COVID-19 Emergency.

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.

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

jorge-lopez-284336-copy-300x200If you have an elderly parent or loved one who may soon need nursing home care in San Diego County, it is important to get the facts about skilled nursing care and risks of elder abuse in California. When you get the facts, it is essential to identify the common myths that persist when it comes to nursing home abuse and neglect. An article in Forbes discusses some common misconceptions about elder abuse, and we want to elaborate on those misconceptions to ensure you have the information you need when it comes to choosing a nursing home and identifying signs of abuse or neglect. 

Myth 1: Expensive Nursing Homes are Less Likely to be Places Where Abuse or Neglect Occurs

Nursing home abuse can occur at any facility, regardless of the price tag. Do not be fooled into thinking that the more a nursing home costs, the less likely the chances are of nursing home abuse happening there.

Anyone in Los Angeles County who has a loved one with dementia in a nursing home should learn more about a recent study concerning a drug that purports to reverse the effects of this disease. While nursing home abuse and neglect in Los Angeles County can affect any senior regardless of any existing health issues, older adults who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can be particularly vulnerable to elder abuse. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “people with dementia are especially vulnerable because the disease may prevent them from reporting the abuse or recognizing it.” Moreover, seniors with dementia “also may fall prey to strangers who take advantage of their cognitive impairment.” 

According to a recent press release from the University of California, researchers at UC Berkeley recently published a study that suggests certain drugs may be able to “slow or even reverse the cognitive decline that comes with age.” By reversing the effects of dementia, it could be possible to reduce the rate of nursing home abuse that occurs. We want to tell you more about the recent study and to discuss its implications.

Reducing Brain Inflammation May Reverse Signs of Dementia

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.”

Walton Law Firm represented the interests of the family of M.E. (confidential), and elderly woman who suffered from dementia and needed the help with her activities of daily living. She was admitted to a small 12-bed San Diego area assisted living facility in April of 2017. Upon admission, M.E. did not have any bedsores.

M.E’s children began to notice that their mother was never out of her bed when they would visit (which was often). Worse, the family would find M.E. alone in her room with all of the lights turned out, even in the middle of the day. The facility’s administrator first lied to the family, telling the children that their mother was helped out of bed every day. Later, she testified in a deposition that M.E. had experienced a “health crisis” during that time frame and needed to stay in bed (even though the family was unaware of any crisis).

As a result of being left in bed, M.E. developed a bedsore on her coccyx. Within a month, the sore was sized as a Stage III, which disqualified M.E. for assisted living care, and required the facility to discharge her or contact the state for permission to retain her with proper care. Instead of taking action, the administrator actively discouraged the family from taking appropriate action with regard to their mother’s health.

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.

When You are Worried About an Emergency Situation

max-larochelle-421822-copy-240x300Whether your elderly loved one is located in a nursing home in Riverside County or a facility in another part of California, a recent article in Kaiser Health News suggests that natural disasters—and preparation for them—ultimately may reveal possibilities of increased risk of nursing home neglect injuries in facilities. The article cites information from a new report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. As that report explains, when federal health officials visited 20 nursing homes in the state to determine whether the facilities were prepared for natural disasters including fires and earthquakes, they determined that there were other more pressing safety violations at those nursing homes. We want to tell you more about the Kaiser Health News report and its findings.

Nursing Homes Have More Serious Violations Than Mere Lack of Natural Disaster Preparedness

The federal health officials who visited nursing homes in California to determine their preparedness for a natural disaster found, by and large, that the facilities were not prepared for a natural disaster. Indeed, facilities were so unprepared that federal health officials indicated hundreds of nursing home residents throughout the state could be at serious risk of injury or even death. The article clarifies: “Inspectors found hundreds of potentially life-threatening violations of safety and emergency requirements, including blocked emergency exit doors, unsafe use of power strips and extension cords, and inadequate fuel for emergency generators.”

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