Articles Posted in Community Involvement

The Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act (CHAMP) has passed in the House this summer to renew the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). CHAMP provides new protections for Medicare beneficiaries and provides health insurance to 5 million uninsured children. Annual payment increases to Medicare skilled nursing facilities will be frozen for one year to help pay for expanded coverage. The freeze would have negative effects for 1.7 million nursing home residents and staff. The government has annually increased Medicare payments to nursing homes but continues to fail to improve quality standards. Some problems with this policy include undercompensation of nursing home staff (to the extent that many of them get health care coverage through Medicaid and SCHIP) and the fact that RN staffing is rapidly decreasing. As stated by the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR):

Medicare reform would do more to ensure quality for residents than continuing to give facilities automatic annual increases. We are asking Congress to require nursing homes to report accurate staffing data, including the number of staff and what they spend on nursing; to establish a separate funding stream in Medicare for nursing costs that can’t be transferred to profits; and to set minimum staffing standards for all facilities.

Please write or call your local Representative and ask him or her to support CHAMP Email jwells@nccnhr.org with any questions

A lawsuit was recently brought against the state of Illinois by five nursing home residents in Cook County who claim that Illinois is violating federal law by failing to provide enough resources for nursing home patients to live in their communities instead. The Americans with Disabilities Act includes a responsibility to provide care in an integrated setting. The state of Illinois, however, allocates more money to long-term care facilities than home and community care. Elders receive poor treatment in nursing homes and can be subjected to abuse and neglect. Some of these elders are capable and independent enough to receive only home or community care but are forced to remain in long-term facilities because of the state’s allocation of funds.

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A hospice cat at a Rhode Island nursing home has predicted the death of patients in 25 cases by curling up with them in their final hours. The facility treats people with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and other illnesses. A doctor that treats patients at the nursing home stated that, “Oscar is better at predicting death than the people who work there.” This allows nurses to alert families when a loved one is about to die. Unfortunately, other nursing homes have to rely on the medical staff to predict when patients are showing signs that death might be imminent. But because nursing homes are understaffed, and nurses are often insufficiently trained, they cannot provide the same attention to the patients that this cat apparently can. Sorry to say, not all nursing homes can acquire a cat with such talents, and nursing staff simply does not have enough time to monitor patients and alert families when death is approaching.

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Rock Island County officials have announced that, despite a lawsuit brought on by private nursing homes, they will continue to build the new Rock Island Care Center in East Moline, Illinois. The new nursing home is intended to replace Oak Glen Home in Coal Valley, Illinois. The new home will have better access to public transportation and will be easier for doctors and dentists to reach. It will also have 75 more beds. The private nursing homes complain that the new home will oversaturate the market, but the benefit of public homes is that they are required by the state to take in recipients of Medicaid or Medicare. Private nursing homes also accommodate public aid patients, but often have limits.

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The Illinois Department on Aging recently awarded Judy Ellet of the Shawnee Alliance for Seniors and Kate Donovan of Rockford 2007 Outstanding Long Term Care Ombudsmen Awards. Long Term Ombudsmen have an important role in Illinois elder rights as they work to protect, defend and advocate for the rights of nursing home and long term care residents and their families. They help with resolving complaints of abuse and neglect, providing information to families and residents and advocate for good individualized care among other important services.

Elder abuse often goes unnoticed, but research indicates that about 4 to 5 percent of people aged 60 years and older are subjected to some form of mistreatment. In Illinois, over 50 percent of elder abuse reports allege financial exploitation; 25 percent allege physical abuse; 45 percent allege active or passive neglect; and 45 percent allege emotional abuse. However, only about one in 13 cases are reported to Illinois’s Elder Abuse and Neglect Program.
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Steven Levin of Levin & Perconti delivered a speech to fellow litigators at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago, Illinois yesterday. The speech was given at the American Association for Justice’s Annual Convention. Mr. Levin spoke about common rules of the road to follow when prosecuting nursing home cases. Elderly abuse is a very serious and oftentimes neglected issue in this country. The attorneys at Levin & Perconti strive to achieve justice for the elderly who have been abused, neglected, or taken advantage of.

Mark your calendars- on Sunday, September 30, 2007, The Greater Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is hosting the Naperville Memory Walk. The Memory Walk is the largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer care, support and research in the country. Since 1989, Memory Walk has raised more than $225 million. Held annually in hundreds of communities across the country, this inspiring event calls on volunteers of all ages to become champions in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

Click here for more information

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 Senate Special committee on Aging will be holding a hearing on abuse July 18th. They are looking for a resident or family member of a resident who had been abused by a person with a criminal record whose abuse could have been prevented if there had been a criminal background check. If you or a person you know have been a victim under these circumstances please contact Ben Kessler, assistant to the Chief Investigator, at 202-224-0185. More information can be found at this website.

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

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