In a recent and very disturbing case in St. Charles, Illinois, two nursing home employees were criminally charged with aggravated battery of a person over 60 for the physical abuse of a resident patient at the facility. On top of this the employees, who are just teenagers, also videotaped this abuse, which is also a crime (never mind the sheer horror of doing something like this and recording it on tape). The teenagers had bail set at $15,000, and were banned from going into the nursing home as well as having any contact with the victim or her family. While the victim apparently did not sustain physical injuries, but this does not take away from the gross violation the two young employees inflicted on her.
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After seeing cases after case of nursing home abuse and negligence, individuals looking into a nursing home residency, or families looking into it for a loved one, have much to think about when deciding. Relevant state and federal authorities, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the Department of Public Health in Illinois, for example, all will have certain records on inspections and overall reputations of nursing homes and long-term care facilities. These will list citations for violations of rules and regulations, and can help give the interested clients an idea of how the nursing home is regarded by the government enforcement agencies. For those who already have a loved one residing in a nursing home, it is important to keep up on these records as time passes to be sure there is nothing requiring concern.
Additionally, those looking into moving a loved one into a nursing home also can conduct an in-person evaluation of the facility. The same can be done when a family member visits a loved one in a facility and can make observations while there. While staff will ultimately seek to put on a great performance, there are sometimes more subtle observations that people can make as they tour the facility and as they question staffers and administrators.
For those with a relative already in the facility, they can observe the emotional and physical status of their loved one. If that person is possibly sad or withdrawn, it could be an indication of abuse. Unexplained cuts or bruises could also be indicative of negligence or abuse as well. It is important to inquire with residents or loved ones about their meal schedule and what they eat and drink to determine if their nutrition level is adequate. Reading the staff members will also generate observations. Staffers may not fully answer questions or may try to avoid answering them. Of course, a resident there may also more explicitly indicate that problems exist by demanding that a certain nurse or staffer not be near them. It also is important to observe how many staffers are around at one time and if it appears that they tend to the residents consistently, and that someone is always around when needed.
By reading both staff and residents, possibly including a loved one, subtle hints and signs could emerge that the facility is not adequate or is not the right place for one’s relative. Public agency records are also an important part of this process, as is the natural instincts of someone who visits the facility.
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