Cases of nursing home abuse in Greenacres and across Florida have grabbed headlines and raised real concern about the condition of long-term care facilities in the state.
Our Greenacres nursing home abuse attorneys know that not every facility is bad. However, not all nursing homes are created equal. It is critical that when you are choosing a nursing home for your loved one, you carefully weigh all of your options and to be on the lookout for red flags and warning signs.
In a series last year titled “Neglected to Death,” The Miami Herald detailed a long list of nursing home abuses throughout Florida that should put anyone shopping for a nursing home on high alert. Some of the facts they uncovered include:
–Almost once every single month, a resident dies from abuse or neglect. In some cases, caretakers forged certain documents to conceal evidence, but prosecution in these cases is exceedingly rare;
–Nursing homes are regularly caught using restraints illegally. These include the use of powerful tranquilizers, ropes and locked closets.
–While state regulators could have shuttered about 70 nursing homes over a two-year period for a long list of serious violations of abuse and neglect, they ended up closing just seven.
–While there have been more than 550 new nursing homes established across the state over the last five years, the number of inspections dropped by more than 30 percent.
–In one case, a home in Miami-Dade was the site where a 71-year-old man with schizophrenia died of burns after being left in a bath with scalding water. Since his death, the home has been cited by state authorities for more than 100 violations – and yet, it remains open.
The point is, with such egregious violations that continue on such a large scale, you simply can not trust that the state is looking out for your loved ones.
Still, nursing home care is sometimes the only option many families are left with. That means you have to do your homework.
CNNMoney recently reported on some of the things you can do to ensure your relatives are safe.
The first is reviewing the official statistics. Medicare releases nursing home ratings, and these can be a place to start. They are rated by a star system, but there is usually more to it. Take the time to look through health inspections and staffing reports. Some citations are more serious than others. For example, failing to create a care plan might raise eyebrows, but medication errors are likely a deal breaker. Also, take a look at the nurse-to-patient ratio, as well as how much time nurses get with each resident. These are going to be important indicators as to the kind of care your loved one will receive at the facility.
You will also want to consider contacting the state’s ombudsman or licensing agency. Ask them directly about any consumer complaints.
Make sure too that wherever you place your loved one, nursing home has the ability to meet their specific needs. For example, if your parent or relative has schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s Disease, make sure the facility is equipped to adequately deal with that issue.
Drop in and visit – randomly and without warning. You’ll want to start with an official tour, where you can ask questions like will your loved one be able to decide when to take a shower or when they go to sleep. You will also want to ask whether the nursing staff works with the same patients every day, or whether schedules and routines change frequently. The idea here is that when staffers know their patients well, their care is going to significantly improve.
Keep an eye out to see if patients are greeted by staff in the hallways, whether patients eat in a dining hall or their rooms. Stop in on a weekend, when there is likely to be less staff, and take note of whether the quality of care diminishes greatly.
If you feel your loved one or friend is experiencing nursing home abuse and or negligence in Greenacres, please contact us for a free consultation and evaluation of your potential case. For a free and confidential appointment call toll free at 1-800-561-7777.
Find the right nursing home, By Amanda Gengler, CNNMoney
NEGLECTED TO DEATH | Part 1: Once pride of Florida; now scenes of neglect, By Rob Barry, Michael Sallah and Carol Marbin Miller, The Miami Herald