Assisted-living facilities have become popular alternatives for older Americans who aren’t yet in need of the care found in nursing home facilities. Assisted-living facilities offer seniors flexibility and freedoms that aren’t available when they transition from living on their own to a nursing home care facility.
That said, assisted-living facilities still require a level of care for their residents. Furthermore, investigative news reporter Pam Zekman recently found that some of these assisted-living facilities were not providing the proper care for their live-in residents. She also found that these facilities violated state regulations and were unable to deal with more complex medical issues that later developed in residents in the facilities.
Mistreated at Illinois Assisted Living Facility
Sunrise Assisted Living in Willowbrook was one of the assisted-living facilities that Zekman investigated.
Marie-Rose Demkowicz, a woman with multiple sclerosis, wound up in Sunrise after she had fallen in her home and broke her hip. She was confined to a wheelchair after the incident. Her son and daughter were more than satisfied with the equipment at Sunrise. In fact, they were impressed with all the call buttons in the facility, especially the ones that residents could wear around their necks to request help in the event of a fall.
The family, however, filed a lawsuit alleging that Demkowicz fell at least 14 times at Sunrise. The family asserts that most of the falls occurred after she used a call button to ask for help to go to the restroom. When staff failed to respond, Demkowicz would attempt to go alone, lift herself from her wheelchair in the bathroom, which would then resulted in the falls.
At one point when Demkowicz’s daughter was at Sunrise on a visit, she asked her mother to test the call button around her neck. Her daughter asserts that it took nearly twenty minutes for someone to respond to the call.
The lawsuit also contends that Demkowicz was not re-positioned properly in her bed, which led to the development of bed sores. Even worse, after Demkowicz’s children took her to a doctor who treated her for her bed sores, the assisted-living facility failed to follow the doctor’s wound-care instructions.
Demkowicz developed a Stage IV pressure sore, which, the lawsuit alleges, led to her death.
“What’s shocking about this case is that once they were Stage Three and Stage Four pressure ulcers, they kept her as a resident in direct violation of the law,” said Attorney Steve Levin who filed the lawsuit.
Assisted-living facilities, like Sunrise, will keep residents, like Demkowicz for one reason alone: maintaining census to maintain money.
“They want to maintain census because that’s how they make money,” Levin says.
Sunrise offered no public statement. However, Sunrise Senior Living did offer a statement to Zekman:
“We take seriously our commitment to delivering seniors with high-quality care – we remain unwavering in our focus to provide our residents with a safe and nurturing home. Every Sunrise community team member receives ongoing training on resident care and safety. Sunrise’s extensive training programs have been developed over our more than 30-year history in conjunction with state training requirements. We incorporate classroom, online and hands-on training, and employee shadowing and mentoring.
Our staffing model is based on the number of residents and their specific care needs. Care managers are designated to individual residents so that they truly get to know the residents’ specific needs, and can recognize changes.If a resident’s needs exceed what we are able to provide, we work with the resident, family and physician to find the right care solution.
We evaluate our teams’ performance regularly to help ensure we meet our own high standards. Our residents and their families expect us to deliver the best care, as they should, and we work every day to earn their confidence and trust.”
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