We know there are many high-quality nursing home facilities committed to ensuring the residents in their care are receiving the best attention possible but that doesn’t stop the common misconceptions and myths family members may fear in regard to what it may be like for a loved one to live in a nursing home or long-term care residence. Our team has collected six myths we often hear about nursing home care facilities and provided a response to each one in hopes to better prepare you or your family member for a care stay.
Reality No. 1: Residents May Get to Go Home
Most nursing facilities have a job to rehabilitate residents to the point that they can safely return to their own community, enter an independent facility or be moved to their own home or the home of a loved one. An ideal situation would be for patients to be in the comforts of their home where they would receive at-home care. This would only occur though if programs like Medicare and Medicaid could pay more for them, and if services were not so focused on which cases would profit them and which would not.
Reality No. 2: Quality of Life for Illinois Long-Term Care Residents is Poor
Although many states have made some advancements in care scenarios, most systems aren’t changing fast enough to support the growing trends the baby boomer generation will demand within the next decade. Illinois has 1,200+ long-term-care facilities, most of which have a mediocre rating from AARP for providing a system that supports the quality of care residents deserve.
Reality No. 3: Many Nursing Homes Are Understaffed
Nursing homes have become infamous for understaffing the most important workers. Administrators and directors are too often placing a disvalued burden of a heavy patient load onto the shoulders of poorly paid nurses and CNAs. Simply put, these workers are asked to do too much for too little. Until nursing homes choose to pay fair wages for fair work, it is unlikely that those who enter the nursing assistant profession with the best of intentions can provide the quality of care that our loved ones deserve. This remains a very unfortunate issue since these workers are responsible for helping residents perform the most basic daily tasks. On many occasions, it is also these employees who are the first to stand up for residents when resources are unfairly cut to the bone by owners and operators.
Reality No. 4: Nursing Homes Have Lost Alzheimer’s Residents
Given the growing prevalence of wandering Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, nursing homes are expected to implement safety measures that can prevent such situations from happening. Staff should be diligent about checking on residents and ensuring their whereabouts, doors should have alarms, and residents can be outfitted with special tracking devices that show their location and can trigger alarms when passing through restricted areas (outside their room, into stairwells, or out exit doors, for example). Nursing homes should only take on these special patients if they are prepared to serve them with trained staff and offer the protections necessary to keep them safe.
Reality No. 5: Patients Can Be Evicted
Illinois was identified as having doubled their number of nursing home evictions in the past five years. Evictions can be justified but Federal law requires nursing homes to give residents 30 days’ notice of their decision to evict them from the facility, as well as the opportunity to appeal the decision. That same notice must also be given to the state long-term care ombudsman, an elder rights representative assigned in every state. If the resident chooses to appeal a discharge, they cannot be relocated before a decision has been reached. The nursing home must also give a thorough and specific explanation as to why they cannot care for the resident if that is the stated reason for the discharge. Homes must also assist in arrangements for a transfer, either to the resident’s home or to another home or skilled nursing facility, including sharing care plan details with intake facilities.
Reality No. 6: Medications Can Be Used to Sedate Certain Residents
It is never permissible for a care home to administer drugs to patients for the sole purpose of restraining them. But each week, approximately 179,000 nursing home residents with dementia are inappropriately medicated and categorized as being chemically restrained. These antipsychotic drugs are being prescribed because of their sedating effects, making dementia patients easier for staff to handle. Staff must properly maintain and administer medications to ensure that they are being properly used. Over medication can lead to medical problems and an overdose can be fatal. Those who are over-medicated may be lethargic, groggy, or even unable to communicate. These symptoms may signal a problem with medication dosage.
Choosing to place your loved one in a nursing home is a tough decision to make on its own. And of course, we know there are many more realities in addition to our list that may be disturbing to our communities, but our job is not to scare you or your family. Our nursing home abuse and neglect legal team simply want to better prepare you to recognize the signs of poor care and understand the realities your mother, father, or other family member may face during their nursing home stay.
We Can Answer Your Nursing Home Questions
If your loved one suffered serious injury or death as a result of a stay in a nursing home or long-term care facility, please let the Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Levin and Perconti review the facts of the situation and advise you of any legal remedies you may have. As the rising number of abuse and neglect claims arise, it’s true Illinois nursing homes are getting away with providing some of the most innocent and vulnerable residents poor and inadequate care.
Our consultations are always free, confidential, and handled by one of our skilled attorneys. Click here to fill out an online request form or call us toll-free at 1-877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872.