Articles Posted in How to choose a home

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Late last month a jury was asked to decide a nursing home neglect case related to a resident who died after falling well over a dozen times. As an apparent message of anger to the company which provided such substandard care, the jury returned a utterly astonishing verdict – $1.2 Billion.

A Christian Post story has the details of the case.

The suit was pursued by a man on behalf of his mother. The senior woman stayed at the defendant-nursing home for a period of about three years, from 2004 until her death in 2007. The defendant facility, owned by a large nursing home conglomerate, Trans Healthcare Inc., apparently took little stock in ensuring that the best interests of the residents were actually respected.

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The fight to preserve everyone’s ability to make a case in front of a judge or jury continues. In the nursing home context, following elder abuse or neglect, one of the biggest impediments to that right is the use of confusing and unfair mandatory arbitration clauses in nursing home admission contracts.

There have been many legal battles over this issue in recent years. Some of those arguments occur in courtrooms while others are taking place in legislative halls. The recent court battles usually involve more detailed issues about contract principles–who signed, who is bound, and whether or not many factors in the creation of the contract violated fairness principles. In general, state and federal courts have upheld these agreements on occasion but also found that under certain circumstances they can be thrown out.

The fight at the legislative level is usually more sweeping, involving proposed laws that would affect many different cases. For example, this week a new federal law was proposed in Congress known as the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2013. As discussed by the American Association for Justice, the new law seeks to end the abusive practice of so many large corporations, including nursing home conglomerates, that seek to insulate themselves from legal accountability with forced arbitration. As the AAJ summarized, the law is critically needed, because when it comes to arbitration, “The process is secretive, costly and rigged so that corporations cannot be held accountable. By removing access to justice, it grants corporations a license to steal and violate the law.”

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Few nursing home administration details are talked about more in relation to ensuring proper care and avoiding neglect and abuse than staffing levels. The research effort was published by OnShift, and is available at the LTL Magazine online here. The main idea of the paper is to stress the importance of “staffing acuity.” It lists five reasons to make a focus on these staffing issues a top priority for long term care management.

The first of those reasons relates to quality of care. The paper pointed to research showing that “acuity drives better outcomes.” The paper notes that this care is a more “clinically driven and individualized approach.”

Important in identifying proper staffing levels is appropriate technologies and monitoring systems. The report note that changes in resident conditions, assessment, or intake rates affect what is an appropriate staffing level. In that way, every day (and every shift) can include the right number of staff members with the right skill set. Our lawyers who work on cases of abuse and neglect in Illinois are very familiar with the problems that come with mismatched staffing levels and skills. The sad truth is that most facilities have a long-way to go before their staffing is appropriate at all times. It is perhaps unsurprising that the problems usually stem to facilities having too few staff members who are not properly trained to ensure all residents receive the care they need. This is unacceptable, and those families affecting are well served by protecting their legal rights when it causes harm.

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We often advise local residents to be vigilant when selecting the best home for their loved one. Not all facilities are the same, and choosing one home over another may be the difference between your family member being neglected or not. In addition, regardless of neglect risk, there are other factors that have been shown time and again to affect the quality of life for those in these facilities–such as proximity to friends and family members for frequent visits. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ “Nursing Home Compare” website is perhaps the best starting point for investigations in all long-term care facilities nationwide, including in Illinois and Chicago.

However, it is important to recognize that, at the end of the day, most seniors and adults with disabilties would prefer to age in place, instead of moving into a skilled nursing facility. Fortunately, many qualified at-home care providers exist throughout the area to provide the support needed so that the elderly are able to maintain as much independence as possible while still having extra support to keep them safe and secure.

The same concerns about abuse and neglect exist, however. Even though most at-home care providers are caring, supportive caregivers, there are always exceptions. In fact, considering seniors are inviting these individuals into their homes there is perhaps even more risk of the individual suffering physical, emotional, and financial loss if the at-home caregiver is willing to take advantage of the resident’s vulnerabilities.

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Our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys hear from many families who are looking for information on long-term care options for their loved ones. The decision to put a family member or other loved one into a long-term nursing care facility is always a difficult one. However, for many families, the time comes when a loved one’s care needs require more time or attention than a family can reasonably give. When this time comes, it is important to research potential facilities in order to help reduce the risk that your loved one will fall victim to abuse or negligence.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Nursing Home Compare website compares every nursing home in the country that is eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. Scores attained on five separate quality measures are used to rank care facilities, including health inspection results, nursing home staff data, quality measures, and fire safety inspection results, all of which are pivotal in determining the quality of safety and care afforded to residents.

Once you arrive at the Medicare website, select ‘Facilities and Doctors’ from the list on the left-hand side of the page. You will then be given a choice of a number of sub-categories: select ‘Compare Nursing Homes.’ The website allows you to search for nursing care facilities by area, as well as directly compare nursing homes to one another, in order to find the right fit. This information is also available by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

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According to an article from SmartMoney.com, it is very difficult to choose the right nursing home when making the difficult decision to place a family member into long-term care. Many nursing homes will hide some important aspects that are crucial to this decision. The next ten statements are things that you need to investigate because a nursing home will never tell you. The first is that they are careless with the drugs they distribute. Next they will never let you know if they are understaffed. A nursing home will not make you aware of the fact that nursing home theft is on the rise. Cash, jewelry and clothes are oftentimes the most commonly stolen items. In addition to personal theft, institutional theft is also rising. The Department of Health and Human Services reported that the Medicaid Fraud Unit had recovered more than $1.3 billion in fraudulent money. Next, a nursing home will not let you know that they only will do what is in the individualized care plan.

A nursing home will never disclose their cases of nursing home negligence or whether they use physical restraints on their loved ones. Sometimes, nursing homes prep for their report cards and their grade my not reflect their standard of care. When they get fined, they have the possibility of not paying them. Most importantly, a nursing home will not let you know that they can discharge a resident at any moments notice. This has become one of the biggest complaints of nursing home residents and their families. To read more about the nursing home facts, please click the link.

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Manor Court of Clinton, a Clinton, Illinois nursing home, has not only been cited for deficiencies but its administrator has been replaced. This comes after many complaints and an inspection by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). Pantagraph.com is reporting that the IDPH discovered that the nursing home was not in compliance with several federal regulations. Manor Court will now receive a daily fine of $400 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services until it is back in compliance. The IDPH is instrumental in investigating cases of nursing home negligence throughout the state of Illinois.

The home was cited for failure to maintain hot water and failing to relieve residents’ pressure sores. The negligent nursing home was also unable to prevent a resident from falling and was found to have insufficient nursing staffing. These issues may have led to an inability to administer and monitor resident medications. A regional long-term care ombudsmen with the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging , Tami Wacker, said her office has investigated many complaints with the Manor Court administrator. They found that when their complaints were voiced, there was an obvious lack of cooperation from the nursing home administration.

The Nursing Home Compare website does not give favorable ratings to Manor Court. The overall rating is one out of five stars and they only give the home one star for nursing home staffing. The compare website is a helpful tool in choosing a nursing home. If you or a loved one has experienced nursing home negligence at Manor Court of Clinton, please consult an Illinois nursing home attorney. To read more about the Illinois nursing home inspections, please click the link.

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A New York Times article has laid out many times for helping those dealing with the stressful task of choosing a nursing home. Chief executive of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging states that you can find a nursing home with a safe, engaging and pleasant environment if you “know what to look for and how to search.” The first step is to start with the data by looking at a nursing home’s health inspection data, staffing and quality measures. You may obtain this information by going to the Medicare website and using the “nursing home compare” tool. The next helpful step is to visit the nursing home numerous times. Ask to speak with the executive director, lead physician and head nurse. Take notice as to whether staff members are being friendly with the patients. When speaking with nursing home representatives make sure to ask the nursing homes if they engage in “person-centered care” as well as “consistent assignment” These homes will allow patients to generally manage their own schedules and choose when they wake up. Finally, make sure to inquire about the staff turnover. Countless studies have found that nursing home staffs with high turnover rates are more likely to commit nursing home negligence.

There are many helpful sources for choosing a nursing home in Illinois. The Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti recommend visiting the Illinois Department of Health’s Website to examine information on each nursing home in Illinois. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at the Illinois Department of Aging is another helpful resource for families choosing a nursing home for a loved one. They run a Senior Helpline that you may access by calling 1-800-252-8966.

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The Clarion Ledger has recently posted an article discussing the needs of nursing homes to carry insurance. The article points out that many nursing homes do not carry enough liability insurance to cover damages caps if a nursing home abuse lawsuit is filed. Many nursing homes face lawsuits after physical and sexual abuse or nursing home neglect. Nursing homes should be required to carry enough insurance to cover a vulnerable person that is injured, mistreated or abused while a resident at the home.

In Mississippi, a current House Bill 536 would require non-government nursing homes to carry $500,000 in liability coverage which is equivalent to the amount that the government nursing homes must carry under the Tort Claims Act. While this out-of-state legislation may seem like an obvious need to those who believe in elderly rights, many insurance companies and nursing home lobbyists are working diligently to try to kill the bill before it reaches the Senate. Since nursing homes have received the damage caps they believe are so important, it is imperative that they carry insurance. The elderly need and deserve the accountability afforded to them with the passage of HB 536. To read more about the nursing home legislation, please check out the link.

Illinois is one of the states that does not require nursing homes to carry liability insurance. We hope that new Illinois nursing home reform legislation will require homes to operate with insurance. The Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys at Levin & Perconti encourage people to ask if a nursing home carries insurance before entrusting a loved one to the facility. Researching a nursing home’s insurance information is an important step to ensuring your family members rights in the event of an injury caused by negligence.

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The USA Today has released a report stating that one in five of the country’s 15,700 nursing homes were found on the lower end of the five-star scale. It seems that almost all of the nursing home receiving one or two stars are owned by-for-profit corporations. The stars reflect inspections performed in the nursing homes as well as complaint investigations. Most owners must take responsibility for the consequences of the poorly performing nursing homes. The lowest-rated facilities have averaged about 14 deficiencies per site. These deficiencies include nursing home abuse and safety violations. You may visit the nursing home compare website by clicking on the link. Many Chicago nursing homes only have one star. These include: Alden Princeton; Avenue Care Center; Belhaven Nursing & Rehab Center; Kenwood Healthcare Center; and Waterfront Terrace. The nursing home negligence attorneys at Levin & Perconti have filed numerous lawsuits against one-star nursing homes in Chicago. They have also noticed that many of these homes have not improved their ratings and continue to commit Chicago nursing home abuse.

To read the story concerning the low star nursing homes, please click the link.