What Nursing Homes Won’t Tell You

SmartMoney.com has an article out entitled 10 Things Nursing Homes Won’t Tell You. Which has been adapted from the book “1,001 Things They Won’t Tell You: An Insider’s Guide to Spending, Saving, and Living Wisely,” by Jonathan Dahl.

Walton Law Firm thought you might like to see the list:

1. “We’re careless about the drugs we give out.”

The use of antipsychotic medications inside the nursing home has exploded in recent years, and has been discussed at length here. In California, nearly 60% of all California nursing home residents are given psychoactive drugs, a 30% increase since 2000, according to California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. It’s become a real problem.

2. “We’re woefully understaffed.”

Staffing is the biggest problem in nursing homes today. According to Donna Wagner, a professor at Towson University, it is a “crisis.” While it is optimal to have one caregiver for three to five residents, some nursing homes have one registered nurse for 50 to 60 residents.

3. “Mr. and Mrs. Smith, meet Sticky Fingers Louie.”

Nursing home charges can be ridiculously expensive. In 2009, a year of nursing home care cost over $70,000 for a semi-private room according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

4. “What you don’t know about your checkbook can hurt you.”

There are too many thefts in nursing homes (frequently by the employees).

5. “If it’s not in the care-plan, we’re not gonna do it.”

California nursing homes must prepare a “plan of care” for every resident, and then update it on a regular basis. The failure to provide a comprehensive care plan was the primary source of deficiencies issued against California nursing homes last year. It is supposed to be detailed, and address the specific needs of the patient, but too frequently is a generic plan that fails to address (and provide) for the residents’ special needs.

6. “‘Neglect’ is our middle name.”

In January of this year, the California Department of Public Health issued a citation to an Orange County nursing home, along with an $85,000 fine. The citation alleged that a resident died after falling and suffering a fatal head injury. The resident of falls, but the nursing home failed to take adequate precautions.

The neglect of a nursing home resident can be revealed in a variety of ailments, including pressure sores / ulcers, dehydration, infections, weight loss, fractures, etc.

7. “We use physical restraints on your loved ones.”

While it is not illegal to use physical restraints, they are supposed to be used only as a last resort, and only with a physician’s authorization. In 2008, 10.97% of California facilities that received deficiencies did so for use of illegal restraints.

8. “Take our report cards with a grain of salt.”

Survey reports and nursing home ratings systems rarely tell the true story. It is well known that nursing facilities and tipped off and prepare for their annual visit from state inspectors. The never look or operate as well as they do for the week they are being evaluated.

9. “Fines? Go ahead— give us your best shot.”

Does a citation and a fine sting? Not really. In California, only $1.2 million of the $4.6 million assessed in fines was actually collected. Most homes appeal the citations as far as they can, they agree to a settlement where they pay much less.

10. “We can kick a resident out anytime we want.”

When the resident is too difficult, or requires too much care, the nursing home can always just evict them. This was the No. 1 complaint received by the State Long Term Care Ombudsman for New York in 2009, and is also an issue in California. Facilities must follow strict state guidelines, but beyond that there is no problem discharging residents to different facilities.

Source: SmartMoney.com by Lisa Scherzer and David Stires

The nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at the Walton Law Firm represent seniors and dependent adults throughout Southern California who have been abused or neglected in the skilled nursing facility, residential care facility for the elderly, and assisted living setting. Call (866) 607-1325 for a free and confidential consultation.

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