October 7, 2009

Residents Rights Week is celebrated by NCCNHR

by Levin & Perconti

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care has designated this week as Resident’s Rights Week. Residents’ Rights Week is celebrated the first full week in October each year to honor residents living in all long-term care facilities. It is a time for celebration and recognition. This is also an opportunity for every nursing home to focus on and celebrate awareness of dignity, respect and the value of each individual resident. Ombudsmen, citizen’s advocacy groups, family and residents councils and long-term care facilities across the country are honoring residents with several events. NCCNHR has put together five ways to participate in resident’s rights week. First visit a resident of a nursing home. While there, encourage a facility to use one of the activity examples from NCCNHR’s Residents’ Rights Week packet. Also you should educate families and the community about Residents’ Rights by writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about Residents’ Rights. Finally host a residents’ rights week event. To read more about ways to celebrate residents’ rights week, please click the link.

September 25, 2009

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care Issues Newsletter

by Levin & Perconti

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care has issued their September Newsletter. The newsletter discussed the recent budget cuts to Illinois Ombudsmen Programs. On October 1, planned state budget cuts will significantly reduce funding to Illinois’s long-term care ombudsmen program. These budget cuts will place further strain on the program that helps prevent nursing home abuse and neglect. The budget cuts will reduce funding from $2.34 million to 1.9 million. This will inevitably mean a decrease in ombudsmen, who routinely address the questions and concerns of residents. The president of the Illinois Association of Long-Term Care Ombudsmen stated that the regular presence of an ombudsman is vitally important especially for those who do not have family and friends to advocate on their behalf. The decrease of ombudsmen will reduce the amount of help that elderly residents receive in nursing homes. The newsletter also discussed that nursing home executives are excluded from federal health care programs and the fact that the inspector general has released reports on hospice in nursing homes. To read the entire newsletter, please click the link.

September 14, 2009

Illinois Ombudmen are Vital to Nursing Home Care

by Levin & Perconti

Illinois ombudsmen help the staff understand the rights of residents. In order to make sure those residents’ rights are upheld, the agency sponsors the Long-Term Ombudsman Program which covers 16 counties in Illinois. It serves residents age 60 in over 139 licensed health facilities, 11 assisted living facilities and seven supportive living facilities. There are 10 long-term facilities in Vermillion County that benefit from the ombudsmen work. They aid in issue such as nursing home abuse and neglect. They refer the worse cases of nursing home abuse to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The paid staff with the ombudsman program visits the facilities once every quarter, or four times a year. Residents are urged to call the ombudsman’s office if problems cannot be resolved. One can become an ombudsman by completing an application and interview process. They then have to go through basic training and mentoring. Currently, Vermillion County has one community ombudsman. To read more about how to become an ombudsman, please click the link.

September 8, 2009

Budget Cuts to Reduce Nursing Home Advocate Program

by Levin & Perconti

Elderly people across Illinois may suffer when budget cuts are scheduled to take effect October 1. These budget cuts will reduce the number of trained advocates who visit nursing homes to expose and prevent elderly abuse and neglect. The president of the Illinois Association of Long-Term Care Ombudsmen is very worried about the effect that these cuts will have on nursing home care. The 19 percent funding cut will result in layoffs and reductions in staff hours for people who regularly visit facilities. The regular presence of ombudsmen is vitally important to those residents who are unable to speak on their own behalf. Long-term care ombudsmen, who are not state employees, inform residents and families of their rights, resolve care-related problems and help protect residents from financial abuse by relatives. They also assist residents and families in filing complaints with the Illinois Department of Public Health about nursing home care. To read more about the budget cuts, please click the link.

May 14, 2009

State’s Decision Supports Lower Fines in Illinois Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Cases

by Levin & Perconti

An Illinois judge handed down a ruling that said the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) illegally increased fines against nursing homes. The IDPH may no longer fine a nursing home more than $10,000. This comes as a blow to many nursing home advocates who fear that lowering fines will cause an increase in poor quality care. With smaller fines, Illinois nursing homes will have less incentive to provide quality care. Larger fines motivate nursing homes to avoid punishment by delivering appropriate care to their residents. It is most likely that the IDPH will appeal this decision. According to the IDPH acting director, “We have been fining what we feel is appropriate for what we find." To read the full story about this devastating ruling about Illinois nursing homes, follow the link.

April 25, 2008

Illinois Nursing Homes at Risk with Threats in Medicaid Reductions

by Levin & Perconti

Proposed changes to federal funding for Medicaid could cost Illinois more than 10,000 jobs and over $400 million in lost wages. Over the next five years, Illinois could see upwards of $2.5 billion in lost funding. Critics of the federal plan warn that reductions in Medicaid funding will shift the bill to the state in an already shaky economy. For Illinois nursing homes
this reduction in Medicaid is a serious threat to resident care and could lead to increased incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect. For instance, a nursing home in Peoria illustrates the problem: more than 70% of its residents are Medicaid funded. Many nursing homes and their residents that count on Medicaid may have to make alternative arrangements if the budget cuts go through.

Read more here.

March 12, 2008

Illinois Nursing Home Bill will help compensate victims of nursing home abuse and neglect

by Levin & Perconti

Today great progress was made in advancing the rights of Illinois nursing home residents and their families. The good news comes in the form of House Bill #5213, which has the potential to improve nursing home care in Illinois by demanding accountability from Illinois nursing homes and long-term care facilities as a prerequisite to obtaining and retaining a license.

Currently, 20% of Illinois nursing homes don’t carry liability insurance. This means many Illinois nursing home residents who are abused and neglected in nursing homes cannot be compensated for injuries they suffer from a nursing home's wrongdoing. Furthermore, facilities are not even required to notify residents and their families that they are uninsured.

Today, the House Human Services committee passed HB 5213 sponsored by Representative David Miller. HB 5213 provides that no person may establish, operate, maintain, offer, or advertise a long-term care facility unless they provide the Department of Public Health with proof of liability insurance in an amount not less than $1 million. HB 5213 also reinstates a provision that was removed from the statutes in 1995 that provides that a licensee shall pay treble damages (the greater of three times the actual amount of damages or $500) in addition to costs and attorney's fees when the rights of a resident are violated.

Please join advocates for Illinois' elderly in our efforts to protect the rights of Illinois nursing home residents and their families and to hold Illinois nursing homes accountable for their wrongdoing. A copy of the bill's full text can be found here.

Please contact us if you have any questions at 312-332-2872.

February 10, 2008

How to aviod elder financial exlploitation by a caregiver

by Levin & Perconti

Financial exploitation and abuse is the most common form of elder abuse reported and investigated in Illinois. Recently, the caregiver of an 83-year-old man was found forging checks in the man's name. Workers at the Sugar Grove, Illinois bank noticed the irregularities in the checks and notified police. The caregiver is being charged with forgery and financial exploitation of an elderly/disabled person. The elderly aren't always lucky enough to have outsiders discover the source of exploitation. Here are a few ways to protect yourself or a loved one when hiring a caregiver:

-Check the backgrounds and references of future employees
-Allow another person (friend, family, lawyer) to have access to bank accounts to monitor spending
-Tell the bank that a caregiver will be handling some financial transactions and to monitor them
-If employing a caregiver or other worker in the home, secure personal information
-Never give bank account or credit card information over the phone
-Shred or get rid of papers with personal and bank information

Click here for the full article

February 8, 2008

Kane County IL sets a good example, but elder abuse and neglect laws need to be stronger

by Levin & Perconti

Kane County, Illinois employs a prosecutor assigned mainly to cases of elder abuse including one of the most prevalent problems, financial abuse and exploitation. Kane County State's Attorney John Barsanti has said that he hopes to improve community outreach as well and that elder abuse should be viewed like child abuse, where the very vulnerable can be taken advantage of. Illinois and US laws, however, seem to do much more to protect and advocate for children than for elders. Many elder abuse attorneys and advocates across the United States argue that elder abuse and nursing home abuse and neglect laws need to be stronger.

Click here for the full article

February 7, 2008

Quincy, Illinois elder services officer investigates abuse and protects elderly

by Levin & Perconti

The police department of Quincy, Illinois has a well-established Senior and Family Resource Center that has recently appointed a new elder services officer, Detective Tom Liesen. Elder abuse and neglect, home repair fraud, and financial exploitation of elders are some of the areas that Detective Liesen investigates. He has been trained in elder services and regularly attends elder rights conferences. Liesen also visits nursing homes to speak with residents and staff and has investigated cases of nursing home abuse and neglect. He said, "When you see the pictures of bedsores, it's shocking. It's sad because you realize that one little bit of care could have prevented that." Detective Liesen provides a much needed service to his community and has set an example for other Illinois communities to follow. Protecting the elderly should be a priority in every town and city.

Click here for the full article

January 15, 2008

Democrats seek release of the names of more bad nursing homes

by Levin & Perconti

Knowing which nursing homes are bad can be valuable information for a family seeking long-term care for an elderly loved one but concerned about issues like nursing home abuse and neglect. Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the names of 54 nursing homes that had ranked as one of the worst in their state. Proper administration of medication to patients, appropriate assistance with activities of daily life and concern for the prevention of malnutrition and dehydration are examples of what inspectors look for in nursing homes. Inspectors also look for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect such as failure to maintain resident safety and prevent accidents, such as falls, infections, bed sores and other problems elderly people are susceptible to.

The list published by CMS containing the names of 54 nursing homes is actually a sample of 128 "special focus facilities", or homes that were identified as in need of more oversight. CMS says that the rest of the facilities were not identified because during the six months after being titled a "focus facility" they showed improvement. Democratic legislators, however, are demanding that all of the names be released in order to protect nursing home residents. Most nursing homes have around 6-7 deficiencies identified during inspection, but the ones on the list had twice as many or more. Unfortunately, no national standard has been set for the investigations so each state has its own parameters. An Illinois nursing home can be considered in terrible condition, but would not qualify in another state. A bill was recently introduced in the legislature to make it mandatory for CMS to publish all of the names, but the issue of discrepancies between states' standards is an issue that should be addressed by congress.

Click here for the full article

January 8, 2008

20th anniversary of nursing home reforms reevaluated

by Levin & Perconti

Twenty years ago, Congress passed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) and it is now time to review its successes and failures in order to improve the quality of nursing home care. OBRA regulates inadequate nursing homes by either shutting them down or allowing well-performing nursing home care providers to take over substandard facilities. However, the system in place requires that those who take over failing homes must be responsible for the liabilities that the previous management had incurred, including fines, penalties and deadlines to correct certain problems, including issues regarding nursing home abuse and neglect. Because the new management must take on these liabilities there are less resources to dedicate to improvement of the quality of care. The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA) has strongly urged congress to pass legislation regarding "the counterproductive nurse aide training lock-out, the need for joint training of nursing home and surveyor staff, allowing states to demonstrate alternative quality assurance systems, facilitating new ownership for chronic problem homes, and using civil money funds to improve nursing home quality."

Click here for the full article

October 9, 2007

SEIU to rally at Chicago-area ManorCare facilities on Thursday

by Levin & Perconti

The Service Employees Union International (SEIU) will be holding rallies at Chicago-area ManorCare locations on Thursday to draw attention to the company's purchase by private equity company Carlyle Group in August. Further details of the rally will be disclosed tomorrow. Please check back tomorrow for an update.

Click here for more information on Carlyle Group's purchase of ManorCare and it's implications for care at Illinois Nursing Homes.

October 3, 2007

Senators call for probe of the quality care given at nursing homes owned by private equity companies

by Levin & Perconti

In response to the recent New York Times article blasting the quality of care given at nursing homes owned by private equity companies, senators Hillary Clinton of New York and Republican Charles Grassley of Iowa have asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate nursing homes owned by private equity companies.

Specifically, the senators are requesting an investigation into whether nursing homes owned by private equity companies are providing bad care. Some of the largest chains in the nation have been purchased by private equity companies recently including Manor Care Inc, the largest U.S. nursing home owner, and Beverly Enterprises.

Click here for the full article

October 1, 2007

Levin & Perconti commends New York Times for nursing home article in Letter to the Editor written by Steven Levin

by Levin & Perconti

Re: “At Many Homes, More Profit and Less Nursing” (article, Sept. 23, 2007)

To the Editor:

The abysmal conditions at corporate nursing homes are a case study in what happens when profits are put ahead of human beings.

In a world where Americans' civil rights are increasingly being sacrificed at the altar of big business, Congress must act to protect the vulnerable from abuse. In the case of nursing home residents, Congress could take any number of positive steps. It could, for instance, mandate that potential residents be notified if the facility is in the hands of corporate investors who have shielded themselves from liability. Or, nursing homes could be required to buy insurance that covers lawsuits arising from abuse or neglect.

Specifics aside, Congress must act to protect the most vulnerable members of society. There is simply no excuse — including the “Almighty Dollar” — for the status quo.

Steven M. Levin
Levin & Perconti (Chicago, IL)

September 28, 2007

Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care surprisingly refuses to condemn long-term facilities who do not provide quality care

by Levin & Perconti

A statement was issued by the President of the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care (AQNHC) in response to the New York Times Article released on Sunday in which the AQNHC surprisingly refuses to condemn the practice of providing less than quality care while simultaneously using corporate shells to operate long-term care facilities and avoid accountability. The AQNHC, a group committed to improving the quality of long-term care nationwide, takes the unsupported position that care in America’s nursing homes is improving overall, noting that the New York Times focused their analysis on only 10% of our nation’s nursing homes.

The AQNHC does not deny that care is being sacrificed at these private equity owned homes, nor do they condemn this practice. Further, AQNHC is non-responsive to the issue of accountability where the owners of long-term care facilities - those who reap the profits - are not held accountable for bad care.

Is the AQNHC applauding this practice or not responding at all? One would expect an organization that is engaged in improving care in our nation’s nursing homes to condemn a practice by profit seekers who cut resident services and staff, decreasing the overall quality of care provided to residents.

Instead, the AQNHC lauds the profession’s “demonstrated commitment to public data disclosure,” and transparency, asserting that nursing homes make data available for potential residents to assess the quality of the facility. However, AQNHC forgets that long-term care facilities’ receipt of Medicare funds is conditioned upon reporting this data, making such reporting essentially government mandated.

In essence, the AQNHC applauds long-term care facilities who participate in a government mandated regulatory scheme with no regard for the bad care residents suffer when profits are put ahead of people.

Click here for the statement.

September 24, 2007

More Profit and Less Nursing: New York Times exposes nursing homes owned by private investment groups

by Levin & Perconti

Profits come before protecting our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Nursing homes housing our nation’s elderly that are owned by private investment groups often put profits over people in operating their facilities, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

The Times piece revealed that since the year 2000, 1200 nursing homes have been purchased by large investment groups. While investors of these private groups have been making millions from operating these nursing homes, resident care has declined. The model these groups have been following – reduce costs, increase profits and quickly sell. The consequences of implementing this model are decreased levels of staff and decreased budgets for supplies, activities and other resident services. Decreases in care and services provided to residents leads to nursing home abuse and neglect, a prevalant problem in our nation's long-term care facilities.

Click here for the full article

September 12, 2007

Nursing home employees in Illinois must wear ID badges

by Levin & Perconti

Illinois Citizens for Better Care (ICBC) reminds residents, family members and advocates that Illinois requires that all staff of health care facilities, including nursing homes, who "examine or treat .. a resident" to wear an i.d. badge with the employee's first name, "licensure status, if any," and staff position. The requirement applies both to employees and volunteers.

The requirement appears in the Medical Patient Rights Act.

Here is the text of the law, which can also be found here:

(410 ILCS 50/6)
Sec. 6. Identification badges. A health care facility licensed in
this State shall require each employee of or volunteer for the
facility, including a student, who examines or treats a patient or
resident of the facility to wear an identification badge that readily
discloses the first name, licensure status, if any, and staff position
of the person examining or treating the patient or resident.
(Source: P.A. 90-331, eff. 1-1-98.)

August 14, 2007

Illinois law requires air conditioning and heating in nursing homes

by Levin & Perconti

The governor of Illinois recently signed legislation that will require nursing homes to be equipped with air conditioning and heating in order to protect nursing home residents from extreme heat and cold. All bedrooms and common areas must be air conditioned and heated. The Illinois Department of Public Health is to monitor the plans for air conditioning and heating systems in nursing homes. The governor stated, "Illinois weather can be extreme. It's hard to imagine that senior citizens in nursing homes may not have something as fundamental as heat or air conditioning." It is hard to imagine that this law is even necessary in the first place. Lack of heating and air conditioning in such extreme weather can pose serious health risks and can be an example of nursing home abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, the rights of seniors are constantly overlooked. This law is an encouraging step in the right direction.

Click here for the full article

July 23, 2007

Illinois Department on Aging awards 2007 Outstanding Long Term Care Ombudsmen

by Levin & Perconti

The Illinois Department on Aging recently awarded Judy Ellet of the Shawnee Alliance for Seniors and Kate Donovan of Rockford 2007 Outstanding Long Term Care Ombudsmen Awards. Long Term Ombudsmen have an important role in Illinois elder rights as they work to protect, defend and advocate for the rights of nursing home and long term care residents and their families. They help with resolving complaints of abuse and neglect, providing information to families and residents and advocate for good individualized care among other important services.

Elder abuse often goes unnoticed, but research indicates that about 4 to 5 percent of people aged 60 years and older are subjected to some form of mistreatment. In Illinois, over 50 percent of elder abuse reports allege financial exploitation; 25 percent allege physical abuse; 45 percent allege active or passive neglect; and 45 percent allege emotional abuse. However, only about one in 13 cases are reported to Illinois's Elder Abuse and Neglect Program.

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