There is no magic bullet for stamping out Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect. Obviously, as Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys, we strongly believe in the power of individual citizens to use the justice system to demand redress and accountability when caregivers fail to provide reasonable care. When private citizens file nursing home lawsuits they are both receiving fair redress for their losses and acting as an accountability measure incentivizing care improvements at the involved facility. Many settlements in these situations also include demands that the nursing homes take certain steps to ensure that future caregiving lapses are prevented.
However, private citizens standing up for their rights are just one part of what must be a multifaceted effort to eliminate mistreatment at these homes. Proper public oversight is also absolutely essential. Government inspectors, when given proper authority, can usually conduct thorough reviews of these homes, ensuring that all reasonable standards are being met. These inspections have the added benefit of helping to identify problems before they actually cause harm to a resident. They are the ideal proactive approach to addressing these issues. Conversely, filing an Illinois nursing home abuse lawsuit is by its nature reactionary-a legal claim only arises once the harm has been experienced.
Complimenting public oversight bodies and civil suits by private citizens are various nonprofit organizations that work in a range of ways to improve the lives of senior citizens and provide avenues to eliminate elder abuse. For example, the Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care is one of the nation’s leading organizations protecting the rights of nursing home residents and their families. One of our firm’s founders, Chicago nursing home lawyer Steve Levin, currently serves on the groups Leadership Council.
Many other fantastic nonprofit groups work in whole or in part on these issues. This week the Pekin Times discussed a recent fundraising drive in Tazewell County, Illinois in support of the United Way. In an effort to help the organization raise the funds it needs to maintain its current services, the article discussed the programs in which the nonprofit is engaged. Part of their mission is supporting efforts that make sure nursing home residents’ rights in our state are protected and that instances of abuse and mistreatment do not go unnoticed. The organization helps seniors in all settings, from voiceless residents in long-term care facilities to those who live at home but are mistreated by friends and family members.
As we have frequently mentioned, most elder abuse is never actually noticed. For all those cases where a nursing home or caregiver is held accountable, ten other wrongdoers go unpunished. There simply are not enough individuals spending time keeping abreast of seniors and ensuring that they are not being victimized. That is why private and public advocacy groups are so crucial. Individuals at the United Way, Consumer Voice, and many similar groups take the time to reach out to seniors, help those who have been hurt, and follow up to make sure that victims are never again threatened. Without these groups, the seniors involved are left to their own devices and further taken advantage of. For our part, our lawyers also participate in nonprofit efforts to help seniors, but the legal side of our work is involved only when mistreatment has already occurred, not before.
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