Nursing home culture is critically important to resident care. News stories and blog posts discussing specific instances of elder neglect always follow a predictable pattern: a resident was hurt, a specific caregiver is cited for problematic actions which caused the injury, and some discipline or punishment was doled out to that caregiver. The downside to this repeated narrative is that it may create the impression that all instances of mistreatment is nursing homes are caused by specific workers who make mistakes.
That masks larger problems about general lack of attention to resident safety by entire nursing home teams. The culture at a facility among employees sets the stage or future care. If cut corners or focus on profit maximization becomes the norm, then it is just a matter of time before a senior resident is harmed as a result. When the harm occurs, one specific employee may have made a mistake, but the problem is far larger than a single errant person.
This is why the same low quality nursing homes often have multiple neglect lawsuits and allegations of mistreatment—it is a cultural problem. In fact, in an “exception that proves the rule’ situation, there are times when mass mistreatment is uncovered implicating many different employees at a single facility.
Dozens of Caregivers Cited
For example, Mcknight’s Long-Term Care News published a story last week on a rash of criminal charges filed against over twenty different individuals at a single long-term care home. All told at least seventy specific criminal charges were filed implicating many in the home, including the owner. The mass mistreatment and subsequent criminal charges were filed after an extensive three-month investigation.
There was not one specific action which led to the charges, but an apparent culture of poor care which skirted state law and exploited residents. The facility in question caters specifically to residents with Alzheimer’s. As we have frequently noted, seniors with cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia are the most likely group to be hurt by poor care.
In this case the allegations range from administering medication improperly to employing convicted felons (which is unlawful in the state). More specific details uncovered in the investigation shock the conscience. For example, residents were allegedly restrained with bed sheets. At other times, multiple diapers were placed on residents so that caregivers could go longer without changing the resident. The disregard for basic dignity and dehumanization of these vulnerable community members is shocking.
Don’t Stay Silent
Understandably there has been significant community outrage following these mass criminal charges. Those working on elder care issues know, however, that these stories are not flukes–similar mistreatment occurs daily throughout the country. It is only stopped when someone stands up and demands accountability. Talking to the local ombudsman, state regulatory bodies, neglect attorneys, and others is the best way to put an end to the abuse and neglect.
For help throughout Illinois, please feel free to contact our legal team today. We have decades of experience on this very issue, working to protect seniors and hold negligent facilities accountable for the harm they cause.
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