Is Grandma Alright?

Many people with someone in a nursing home ask the same question: is Grandma (or Grandpa) alright?

This is a harder question to answer than it might at first seem. After all, nursing homes are the place where people’s health can be expected to deteriorate. No one goes to a nursing home who is expected to recover. No one goes to a nursing home who is capable of taking care of themselves. Their bodies have grown weak. Often, their minds have as well.

It is a sad fact that the human body fails near the end of life, and nursing homes are tasked with helping such people find as much comfort as possible in those final months and years.

So, if Grandma has gone to a nursing home already in poor health, perhaps with her mind in less than ideal condition, how can someone know if she is probably taken care of?

The question is an unfortunate one to have to ask at all, but cases of nursing home abuse do occur, even if they are rare. It is important to remain vigilant. But what are you looking for?

The most obvious sign is a sudden and unexpected decline in health. This does not, in and of itself, prove anything, but if the decline is not related to any particular health issue, it could be a sign that Grandma is being mistreated somehow.

Also, watch out for unusual bruises or other marks. While the elderly do bruise easily, a pattern of finding unusual bruises should start some warning bells ringing.

Other signs can include a decrease in appetite or Grandma becoming withdrawn or almost the exact opposite, aggressive.

Keep in mind that abuse can take many forms in a nursing home, and watch out accordingly. Abuse can be something as simple as physical violence, but it could also take the form of neglect. Another subtle form of abuse might be emotional or psychological abuse. These are more insidious because they are harder to find evidence against. Watch out for signs of any form (or any amount of severity) of abuse.

Above all, the best way to guard against any abuse is to be as present as possible in Grandma’s life. Be aware of her daily schedule. Make regular visits. Encourage her to open up if she’s still able to do so. The more present you are, the less likely anything can go wrong.

Grandma deserves to spend her last years in as much comfort and with as much happiness as possible. She took care of you when you were young and needed it, now it’s your turn. By watching out for warning signs and by remaining a regular presence in her life, you will not only ensure she’s safe in her new home, you’ll help bring a lot of that happiness to her life.

Some Superlatives Just Don’t Work

People of Texas pride themselves on being the largest and biggest in everything, but being named the state with the biggest problem with their nursing home facilities in the country is not something to be proud of. In fact, it is a downright disgrace.

This rating is based on a report by an advocacy group based in Florida, which gives the nursing facilities in its home state a good (B) if not great rating. Texas warranted an F because a whopping 94% of the surveyed facilities found deficient or severely deficient in providing state-mandated minimum level of care to residents. The biggest problem found in these facilities is the severe lack of direct care provided by staff, indicating that residents are largely neglected most of the time. When considering that these residents are mostly unable to care for or even get around by themselves, this is indeed a big problem.

Cases are on the rise but the state is slow in imposing sanctions or yanking licenses for facilities that have been repeatedly cited for violations. Nursing home abuse lawyers have their work cut out for them even in cases where videos from hidden cameras show actual physical and verbal abuse being doled out by nursing home staff. Part of the blame for this state of affairs is placed on the constant shortage of experienced staff, but that is no justification for the failure of the administration to properly monitor their staff and ensure the safety of the residents.

As pointed out at http://www.habush.com/practice-areas/medical-malpractice/nursing-home-malpractice/, nursing homes are there to provide professional health care for the most vulnerable of the population, and need to meet certain standards of care. Unfortunately, it is not so easy. It is only when victims and their families take action in civil court to hold the responsible parties accountable that these nursing homes are compelled to honor their duty of care.

Investigating Nursing Home Abuse

Federal law under the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 (NHRA) imposes rules and regulations specific to elder care establishments that receive payments from Medicaid or Medicare. These rules are generally more stringent than the standards of care required of wholly privately-funded nursing homes, although when abuse is reported, they are held just as liable. States may also, and do, have their own laws governing nursing homes over and above federal law, although they may be patterned after the NHRA.

But according to the website of law firm Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ® in Wisconson, nursing homes cannot be relied on to provide residents with the care and attention they require. When it comes to incidents of abuse or neglect, the nursing home may be found liable for the actions of their staff members or other residents if they are aware of it but fail to report it to the designated authorities.

Under Texas law, anyone can report incidents of abuse or neglect, and in the case of nursing homes, this includes administrators and owners. Once a written report is made to the designated agency, the agency will then begin an investigation within 24 hours of receiving the report. Anonymous tips alleging nursing home abuse or neglect are not given the same weight as a named source, and the agency may choose not to do an investigation.

Typically, the investigative process begins with an unannounced visit to the care facility. The investigator will then observe and interview residents for signs of abuse or neglect and other witnesses that may corroborate the report. The investigator may also conduct a physical inspection of the premises and document the findings in writing and with photos. It may be necessary to obtain a court order to carry out some or all parts of the investigation.

A report from the investigator must be submitted within 30 days after the investigation has been completed. It will contain the findings of the investigator, and recommendations for future action