The Chicago nursing home attorneys at our firm are intimately familiar with the licensure requirements for long-term care facilities in our state. In order to ensure those who manage these facilities are capable of providing the services that seniors need, facilities are forced to be licensed by the appropriate state agency. It is illegal for these homes to operate without the license. Therefore, one way that state regulators are capable of preventing Illinois nursing home neglect is by revoking the license of facilities that are chronically unable to provide appropriate care.
In many cases, a serious incident-involving injury or death to a resident-prompts both the loss of a license and a civil lawsuit alleging Illinois nursing home neglect.
Personal Care Homes
However, as an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story this week discusses, some unscrupulous individuals seek to capitalize on the need for long-term care for seniors and the disabled without going through the proper licensure requirements. Across the country there are continued problems with vulnerable adults facing abuse and neglect in unlicensed facilities. As a result of their status, it sometimes remains difficult for state officials to find, inspect, or force the closure of these facilities. They are usually referred to as “personal care homes.”
These homes usually provide no medical care. Instead they claim only to offer lodging, meals, and help with any number of other tasks, like grooming, bathing, and medication management. The homes are often nestled inside regular neighborhoods, undistinguishable from single family houses on the same street.
Many horror stories have been shared by individuals who escaped these homes and their loved ones. The article explained how residents have been beaten with belts, burned, locked in basements, and denied use of proper restroom facilities. Many of the residents had their public assistance stolen by the caregivers who were using them solely to make a profit.
Our elder abuse attorneys understand that these unlicensed facilities take many forms. Because of the owners disregard for applicable laws, the level of care at these homes is almost inherently sub-par. They operate outside of the law and have no problems disregarding basic standards of health and decency. The co-director of the National Center on Elder Abuse explained that, “This is an underground gray economy. These can be some of the most invisible citizens.”
Many states have problems with these facilities because they lacked the ability to do anything other than shut down the home. Each state has different laws regarding the criminality of running a personal care home without a license. When law enforcement agents shut down the home, the owners often just moved elsewhere and then open up again. Obviously there must be actual sanctions against this sort of conduct so that these negligent caregivers are not allowed to keep moving one step ahead of the law.
However, many elder care observers are concerned that, no matter what the law in the state, there is a woeful lack of enforcement resources. Even if the law criminalizes this conduct, threatening owners with hefty fines and jail time, there will be no effect if law enforcement officers cannot identify these facilities in the first place.
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