Articles Posted in Residents’ Rights

Understaffing nursing homes is incredibly dangerous to adults over 65 residing in long-term care facilities such as Southern California nursing homes. That’s precisely why specific laws and regulations are in place which mandate proper staffing at long-term care facilities.

Under California law, “The facility shall employ an adequate number of qualified personnel to carry out all of the functions of the facility” Health & Safety Code § 1599.1(a). Moreover, Health & Safety Code §1276.5-1276.65 mandates that nursing homes must provide a minimum of 3.2 nursing hours per patient per day.

Unfortunately, many facilities choose to ignore the California law. Even worse, the understaffing of nursing homes has been directly correlated to abuse and neglect of elders. Indeed, understaffing in California nursing homes leads to substandard care over and over again. Substandard care in nursing homes then leads to illness, injury, and too often, death.

Nearly 70% of elder abuse victims are women, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. It is worth noting that the population of elder women is much larger than the population of elderly men in the United States, however, that does not make these alarming statistics any less disturbing.
Why are women the victims of elder abuse more often than men? There are a few reasons most experts tend to agree upon.

1. Elderly females may be seen as easier targets for physical, financial, emotional, or even sexual abuse.
2. Women tend to live longer than men, and many live alone putting them in a position where they may be more likely to be abused.
3. Women tend to develop crippling physical diseases such as osteoporosis, which may take a long time to recover from.

Statistics conclusively show that elders who are disabled are far more likely to be abused than those who are not. As a matter of fact, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse, Administration on Aging:

“Institutionalized adult women with disabilities reported a 33% prevalence of having ever experienced interpersonal violence (IPV) versus 21% for institutionalized adult women without disabilities…when considering lifetime abuse by any perpetrator, a sample of 200 adult women with disabilities indicated that 67% had experienced physical abuse and 53% had experienced sexual abuse.”

Elderly women are far more likely to be sexually abused than men. Reports in the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect found that elderly women were six times more likely to be sexually abused than elderly men. Sexual abuse of elderly women occurs most often in nursing homes, or other assisted living facilities.

If you suspect that an elder –whether male or female–is being abused, it is vital to report your concerns immediately. Under California law elder abuse can be both a criminal and civil offense. The state of California has taken a firm stance and zero tolerance policy towards elder abuse in any capacity. As part of their mission to encourage all Californians to report suspected elder abuse, the state has created The Citizen’s Guide To Preventing and Reporting Elder Abuse, which can be viewed in its entirety here.

If you believe an elder you know is being abused in any capacity while residing in a California nursing home, report it to the following agencies immediately:

• Local Law Enforcement, including the Police, Sheriff, and District Attorney’s office. The San Diego County Sheriff’s department can be reached at (858) 565-5200. The San Diego County District Attorney may be reached at 619-531-4040.
• Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program provide a 24/7 Crisis Complaint Hotline at 800-231-4024.
• Adult Protective Services (APS). In San Diego County, you may contact: San Diego County Aging and Independent Services (858) 495-5660.
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According to the World Health Organization, dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people. Dementia, which is a syndrome in which there is a deterioration in memory, behavior and thinking, causes many who suffer from it to lose the ability to perform their regular activities.

Elders are stricken with dementia far more than any other age group. In many cases, dementia is the reason an elder moves into a nursing home. Dementia is also often to blame for what is known as “elopement” or in layman’s terms, wandering. Elders with dementia may develop wandering tendencies, wherein due to cognitive impairment, they begin to wander around their nursing home unsupervised and without an escort.

Wandering may lead to serious injury as the result of falling. In some cases wandering has even led to death, in cases where residents have wandered outside of their residential facility. Though rare, wandering is dangerous enough that lawmakers included provisions to protect against it in the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act. The law required that nursing homes must provide residents with adequate supervision in effort to prevent elderly patients from wandering. That means of course, that nursing homes must be properly staffed.

Elder abuse typically refers to the knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a custodial care provider, caregiver, or any other person that causes harm to a vulnerable adult. In California, anyone aged 65 and older is protected by the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act. The laws are designed to help prevent neglect and abuse to California seniors. Neglect falls within the definition of elder abuse, and unfortunately may have dire consequences to the victim.

In broadest terms, neglect is a type of elder abuse wherein a caregiver fails to provide the elder with basic needs including water, food, shelter, heat/air-conditioning, personal hygiene products and medical assistance. Failure to adequately move or reposition a bedridden elder, for example constitutes neglect, just as failing to keep elders properly nourished and hydrated constitutes neglect.

Neglect is particularly dangerous for elders, as it can lead to life-threatening consequences. Such consequences of neglect include:

In our last post, we suggested tips for confirming that a potential skilled nursing facility or residential nursing home has the appropriate staff to address the needs of elders with dementia. To recap, dementia is a syndrome in which there is deterioration in memory, behavior and thinking. This causes many who suffer from dementia to lose the ability to perform their regular activities. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, though there are multiple types of dementia.

Elders suffering from dementia need special care when they move into a long term care facility such as a California nursing home. If you are considering helping to move a loved one with dementia into a nursing home, there are specific questions you will want to ask about the services provided for your loved one.

Questions should include:

According to the World Health Organization, dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people. Dementia, which is a syndrome in which there is a deterioration in memory, behavior and thinking, causes many who suffer from it to lose the ability to perform their regular activities.

Elders are stricken with dementia far more than any other age group. In many cases, dementia can lead to an elder moving into a longterm care residence, such as a nursing home. If you or someone you know is considering placing an elder suffering from dementia in the care of a nursing facility in California, there are certain questions you’ll want to ask of the facility.

In this post, we will specifically talk about what to look for in terms of the staff of a skilled nursing facility or nursing home. In a subsequent article, we’ll talk about other facility services you’ll want to inquire about.

For many families the decision to help a loved one move into a long-term care facility is difficult. With elder abuse cases on the rise, it is understandable if you have concerns about a particular nursing home that you’re considering for yourself or your loved one.

Although the decision may be necessary, you’ll obviously want to ensure that you’ve selected the most reputable facility available. To help you in the process of searching for the perfect long-term care facility for your loved ones, here is a list of helpful questions to ask of the facility’s administrators and staff.

*What is the staff to resident ratio?

The decision to place a loved one in a long-term care facility for the elderly can be a very difficult and emotionally demanding process. Both you and your loved one need to take an active role in the decision to maximize the health, safety and well-being of your loved one. Once you have narrowed down your search and thoroughly researched and toured the facility, you should consider the following set of guidelines put together by California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform to ensure your loved one receives the best possible care and treatment.

1. Support your loved one’s transition to the care facility. Open communication is extremely important while your loved one transitions to their new home. There may be feelings of loss or abandonment by the person being placed in the facility, as well as mirrored feelings of guilt or neglect by the person assuming responsibility for the placement. Therefore, it is important to openly discuss these feelings. Make sure your loved one receives a comprehensive assessment upon admission and be attentive to any changes in needs, behaviors, attitudes, and affections during the transition.

2. Make your visits count. Vary your visiting schedule by going on different days and at different times. This will ensure you are able to meet various members of the staff, and observe how your loved one interacts with other residents and staff members at different times of the day. Also, make a plan before each visit. Try to discover new things, meet new residents and staff members, explore new areas of the facility, plan special events outside of the facility, and bring with you important talking points and your loved one’s special interests.

If your loved one is suffering from dementia, you should be sure that any nursing home you may be considering is equipped to care for dementia patients, thus allowing for a more beneficial experience for the patient, not to mention a safer one.

Dementia is caused by damaged brain cells, which leads to a deterioration in cognitive abilities, including memory, speech, and

understanding. Numerous diseases lead to dementia, the most common being Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 70% of all dementia cases. Other diseases leading to dementia include Parkinson’s disease and vascular disease.

The use of physical and chemical restraints in California nursing homes is sometimes a necessary way of protecting patients from injuring themselves and others. When used excessively and, more importantly, without consent, the practice becomes outright abusive. Often this method is used not simply to protect the patient, but rather to make a staff member’s job easier. Overuse of restraints is exacerbated by the growing number of understaffed nursing facilities.

Physical restraints are used to keep patients from wandering around the facility, a potential hazard for the patient and others. A nursing home is required by law to have the resident’s consent before using a physical restraint. Symptoms of physical restraints include sores or bruising on the arms and legs, usually on the ankles and wrists.

Chemical restraints involve the administering of powerful psychotropic drugs to sedate and confine the patient by taking away his or her cognitive abilities. These drugs are not permitted under any circumstances unless the nursing care facility outlines a legitimate medical reason for their use and further provides the frequency and dosage. Because most people are not familiar with the side effects of psychotropic drugs, it can be more difficult to identify chemical restraints than physical restraints.

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