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Vero Beach Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Note Uptick in Abuse Reports

Nursing home abuse lawyers in Vero Beach recently came across reports from our northern neighbor about a rising number of nursing home abuse complaints made to state officials.

According to the Athens Banner-Herald, the number of nursing home abuse and neglect complaints in Georgia has risen by an eye-popping 22 percent in the last five years. A hearing was held by state senators on the issue late last month.

The director of the state’s Department of Human Services’ Division of Aging Services reported that the number of complaints went from roughly 9,000 in 2007-2008 fiscal year to about 11,000 in the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

There may be one of several explanations for this.

The first is that as Baby Boomers age, we have more individuals requiring care. The demand for qualified individuals has increased, so a number of facilities have been willing to take on sub-par job candidates simply because they need to meet patient-to-staff minimum ratios set by the state. This inevitably increases the risk of abuse.

Secondly, we believe that awareness regarding the issue of elder abuse in nursing homes has gained steam over the last handful of years. More seniors are speaking out, and more family members are recognizing the various signs of abuse and neglect.

And finally, it’s highly probable that the number of abuse incidents has in fact gone up, primarily for the reason mentioned above, but also understaffing and the hiring of individuals who may have previous criminal records.

In Georgia, the Department of Aging Services has about 135 investigators and there are another 12 or so that work with the Department of Community Health. But that’s not nearly enough, particularly when you look at the number of cases. It breaks down to about 75 cases per worker. Clearly, not every report of abuse is going to get the full attention it requires.

That’s why in Georgia, and in Florida as well, it is so critical to have a nursing home abuse lawyer working on your side as an advocate for your loved one and his or her legal rights and protection.

Lawmakers in Georgia said they plan to introduce a number of measures this coming year to strengthen existing anti-elder abuse laws when the General Assembly convenes in January. In particular, there is a major concern for nursing home residents and seniors living in more rural areas, with less access to government offices and social service resources. Just like in Florida, the concentration of these services tends to be clustered around more urban areas.

According to recent research from scientists at the University of Georgia’s Institute of Gerontology, seniors who live in nursing homes that are located in a more rural setting are dying at a faster rate than suburbanites of the same age.

There is more that can be done to protect our aging population. If you suspect a loved one has suffered from abuse, neglect or negligence at the hands of Vero Beach nursing home staff, call us today.

Call Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Senators look into elder abuse, Oct. 27, 2012, By Walter C. Jones, Athens Banner-Herald

More Blog Entries:
Federal Nursing Home Report Points to Staff Criminal Convictions, Oct. 23, 2012, Vero Beach Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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