Honesty is always the best policy. That is true is so many facets of life, from politics and family relationships, even to things like nursing home care. Nursing home residents and their families do not expect perfection when it comes to long-term care giving. But they do expect a commitment to providing the best care possible and openness if any sort of adverse event occurs. Time and again, however, nursing home owners and operators not only fail to ensure elder neglect is prevented, but they try to cover up their errors or sweep problems away.
This should never be tolerated.
State regulators in Illinois and throughout the country appreciate that ensuring proper response to adverse events–falls, development of pressure sores, outright abuse–is just as important as preventing the problem itself. In other words, not only should things like pressure sores be prevented, but facilities must be required to act in a timely fashion to report the sores and otherwise make relevant parties aware of the problem.
Sometimes there may be perverse incentives to do otherwise. For example, with pressure sores, many nursing homes may be tempted to hide the problem for as long as possible, fearing the consequences of their discovery. This only leads to further suffering for the resident.
All of this is why there need to be severe consequences for failing to prevent the mistreatment and not being forthright when troubling situations arise. The lives of nursing home residents can be made better by placing emphasis on exposing cover-ups and punishing those facilities who try to hide ill-events.
Failing to Report Sex Abuse
Take a recent report from the News-Journal Online. The story discusses a $36,000 fine against a nursing home for their failures to properly respond to a sexual abuse claim. The allegation was first made about a year ago. According to the story, a resident at the home told caregivers that she saw an employee at the facility climb into bed with her roommate. The roommate denied the suggestion. However, state rule required the facility to at least report the claim so that proper investigatory protocols could be followed. The facility did not say anything. This resulted in a $45,000 fine that was eventually reduced to $36,000.
Are the allegations of sexual abuse accurate? It is impossible to say, because the facility did not engage in due diligence to notify regulators and investigate. The fine itself is based on the problems with the response to the claims themselves, let alone the potential merit of the abuse allegation.
It is perhaps unsurprising that this facility does not have the best track record when it comes to providing superior care to seniors. The news article points to the facility’s CMS rating, noting it only receives two (out of a possible five) stars in overall quality of care indicators. The poor review from federal officials is based in large part on below average health inspections. Those inspections revealed excessive medication errors, poor nutrition standards, and deficient infection-control measures.
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