Whether you live in Vista or elsewhere in San Diego County, you may have an elderly loved one who resides in a nursing home or an assisted-living facility in the area. Given the frequent news reports about elder abuse and neglect, you may worry about your elderly loved one’s safety. While nursing home abuse can occur in almost any facility, a recent report in the Star Tribune highlighted elder abuse prevention efforts in San Diego County specifically, describing the work of San Diego County law enforcement as “a model to protect seniors.”
Are seniors getting safer in Southern California nursing homes, or do we need to remain just as vigilant about the risks of elder abuse and neglect in Vista?
San Diego County’s Approach to Elder Abuse Investigations
According to the Star Tribune report, “San Diego County takes a radically different approach” when it comes to investigating claims of elder neglect and nursing home abuse. Specifically, the report suggests, “a dedicated team of prosecutors, investigators, and victims’ advocates has made elder abuse a priority in the region’s crime-fighting strategy.”
Between 2012 and 2017, San Diego County has “prosecuted nearly 2,000 people for felonies against senior citizens.” Julie Schoen, the deputy director of the National Center on Elder Abuse, emphasized the unique aspects of San Diego County’s focus on crimes against older adults.
What Makes San Diego County’s Methods for Elder Abuse Violation Enforcement Unique?
What makes San Diego County elder abuse prevention and enforcement methods stand out? The county has an elder abuse unit (which is not unique in and of itself) that makes unannounced house calls to nursing homes in the area, as well as to other places in which seniors live. While a majority of these unannounced visits do not result in violations, they do make clear that nursing homes and assisted living facilities can be visited at anytime and need to ensure that residents are healthy and safe.
In addition, the report indicates that there are more than 400 volunteer police officers with the San Diego Police Department who check on seniors who live alone in the area to ensure that they are not being subjected to abuse or neglect. Moreover, when it comes to testifying against facilities or individuals that have been named in nursing home abuse allegations, a specific area of the prosecutor’s office is outfitted to provide care for seniors who are there to testify, encouraging them to help get justice.
At the same time, however, San Diego County remains overwhelmed with the sheer number of elder abuse cases—from those that have been reported to those that are yet to be addressed. Despite the fact that the county has committed resources to enforcing laws that prohibit elder abuse in the state, the advocates who are part of these elder abuse teams remain “unusually busy.” For example, the report notes that numerous elder abuse cases came to light this summer in San Diego County “amid a series of horrific crimes against seniors.”
Speak with a Vista Elder Abuse Lawyer
See Related Blog Posts:
(image courtesy of Jorge Lopez)