Articles Posted in Elder Law Attorneys News

Those who file an Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit will now be forced to submit the case to a mediator before moving on to trial. This new mediation mandate is part of an amendment to a new Illinois medical malpractice rule that was approved this week by the Illinois Supreme Court.

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Kane County, Illinois employs a prosecutor assigned mainly to cases of elder abuse including one of the most prevalent problems, financial abuse and exploitation. Kane County State’s Attorney John Barsanti has said that he hopes to improve community outreach as well and that elder abuse should be viewed like child abuse, where the very vulnerable can be taken advantage of. Illinois and US laws, however, seem to do much more to protect and advocate for children than for elders. Many elder abuse attorneys and advocates across the United States argue that elder abuse and nursing home abuse and neglect laws need to be stronger.

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It is a central healthcare issue that should be on everyone’s agenda. Who will care for the baby boomers as they get older and who will train those individuals?

This issue has begun to be addressed in Virginia under the head of the Older Dominion Project – a community initiative aimed at helping its aging residents. According to a recent study, the current population of Virginians 65 and older is about 700,000. This number is expect to double in the next 20 years. Is the same nationwide? Please offer insight as a crucial part of our population continues to grow.

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Re: “At Many Homes, More Profit and Less Nursing” (article, Sept. 23, 2007)

To the Editor:

The abysmal conditions at corporate nursing homes are a case study in what happens when profits are put ahead of human beings.

A statement was issued by the President of the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care (AQNHC) in response to the New York Times Article released on Sunday in which the AQNHC surprisingly refuses to condemn the practice of providing less than quality care while simultaneously using corporate shells to operate long-term care facilities and avoid accountability. The AQNHC, a group committed to improving the quality of long-term care nationwide, takes the unsupported position that care in America’s nursing homes is improving overall, noting that the New York Times focused their analysis on only 10% of our nation’s nursing homes.

The AQNHC does not deny that care is being sacrificed at these private equity owned homes, nor do they condemn this practice. Further, AQNHC is non-responsive to the issue of accountability where the owners of long-term care facilities – those who reap the profits – are not held accountable for bad care.

Is the AQNHC applauding this practice or not responding at all? One would expect an organization that is engaged in improving care in our nation’s nursing homes to condemn a practice by profit seekers who cut resident services and staff, decreasing the overall quality of care provided to residents.

Profits come before protecting our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Nursing homes housing our nation’s elderly that are owned by private investment groups often put profits over people in operating their facilities, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

The Times piece revealed that since the year 2000, 1200 nursing homes have been purchased by large investment groups. While investors of these private groups have been making millions from operating these nursing homes, resident care has declined. The model these groups have been following – reduce costs, increase profits and quickly sell. The consequences of implementing this model are decreased levels of staff and decreased budgets for supplies, activities and other resident services. Decreases in care and services provided to residents leads to nursing home abuse and neglect, a prevalant problem in our nation’s long-term care facilities.

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The Elder Law Initiative and School of Social work present the Third Annual Summer Institute on Aging. The Summer Institute on Aging is a four-day, interdisciplinary course co-sponsored by the Loyola University Chicago School of Law and School of Social Work open to social workers, nurses, physicians, counselors, geriatric care managers, and attorneys. This highly interactive course will explore the psychosocial, ethical, policy, and legal issues related to aging and mental health, taking into account racial, gender, ethnic, and income differences among the elderly. The course will feature faculty and guest speakers from a variety of disciplines. Through simulations and group work, the course provides an excellent opportunity for true interdisciplinary collaboration. Continuing education credit available.

Click here for more information or contact Marcia Spira at 312.915.7580

The Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act was introduced by Senators Pete Domenici and Herb Kohl, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and it would require comprehensive criminal background checks on long term care workers who have direct access to residents. The checks would include requiring nursing homes to screen prospective employees – while providing supervised provisional employment for thirty days – by checking criminal records, abuse and neglect agencies in all states, records from agencies such as Medicaid fraud control units and professional licensing boards. Sates would be required to penalize facilities for noncompliance and fine facilities that knowingly employ a worker with a criminal background.
Please help pass this legislation! This bill (S. 1577) is intended to stop workers with criminal records from working with vulnerable people.

Click here to read the bill Click here to read the National Citizen’s Coalition for Nursing Home Reform’s letter of support

States all over the country are grappling with the issue of who is mentally fit to vote. Nursing home residents, especially those with Alzheimer’s, are coming into question, as well as people living with other disabilities. The mentally disabled and their advocates are fighting to secure voting rights while psychiatrists and those that work with the elderly are concerned about the risks of voting by people with conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Many people with dementia vote or want to vote but it is important to ensure that they are not pressured to vote certain ways. A New Jersey nursing home employee won a county election but was forced to step down after it was revealed that she took advantage of mentally incapacitated residents. Similar accusations have been reported in Alabama, South Carolina and other states. This summer, lawyers led by the American Bar Association and a group of psychiatrists will publish recommendations for national standards suggesting that people should only be banned from voting if they cannot indicate a “specific desire to participate in the voting process.”

New Jersey’s constitution currently forbids an “idiot or insane person” from voting and an amendment may appear on the November ballot. Advocates want the words removed, but fear they will be replaced with vague and restrictive language. A current Missouri lawsuit seeks to overturn the current state voting ban for people under full guardianship because of mental illness. A current debate in Rhode Island concerns the voting rights of the criminally insane. Only two states allows jailed felons to vote but advocates argue that the criminally insane are evaluated based on dangerousness and not voting capacity, and that voting can be part of rehabilitation moving them “closer to society.” State laws are inconsistent, but the emerging model is based on the 2001 ruling in Maine which allows people to vote if they understand the voting process and can make the choice. Assessing such qualifications is still controversial.

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Nursing home residents receive an exemption from Part D co-payments, and this exemption should be extended to assisted living and board & care patients who receive Medicaid. Medications can eat away most of these residents’ incomes and residents of community-based facilities should have the same rights as nursing home residents. So ask your Senator to support the Home and Community Based Services Co-payment Equity Act (S. 1107).

Click here to read the bill

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