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Nursing home and Assisted Living Facilities: How to Avoid Abuse and Neglect

by  on  Nursing Home Abuse

 In October of this year, 14 sick and elderly patients were abandoned at a Castro Valley, California, assisted living facility. The Department of Social Services had ordered the Valley Manor Community Care Home closed due to deplorable conditions. Notice of the closure was placed on the door of the home, and all but three staff members walked out, leaving the patients at the facility before they were transferred to other homes. After three days of trying their best to care for and transfer the abandoned patients, the remaining staff members called 911, and the police and paramedics responded. A criminal investigation is now ongoing. 

Definitely not a situation you ever want a loved one–or yourself–to be in. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) recommends that you work with a Long-Term Care Ombudsman when looking for a nursing home or assisted living facility. An Ombudsman can help you understand and compare local options. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) supports “Nursing Home Compare, a federal website that helps you locate Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes in your area, and which rates the homes by various quality measures. You can also contact a Denver personal injury attorney who specializes in recovery for nursing home abuse and/or neglect for information on nursing homes and facilities in the Denver area.

CMS has a “Nursing Home Checklist” to guide people through the process of choosing elder care. Some of the most important things to look for in general are:

  1. Is the facility Medicare or Medicaid certified?
  2. Is the facility a skilled nursing facility?
  3. Is the facility accepting new patients?
  4. Is there a waiting period for admissions?
    More specifically:
  5. Is the home and administrator licensed?
  6. Does the home conduct background checks on all staff?
  7. Does the home have special services units?
  8. Does the home have abuse prevention training?
  9. Are the quality of life/care issues addressed (e.g. cleanliness, pleasant smell, nice

lighting, comfortable furniture in common areas, peaceful atmosphere, etc.)

In addition to the above, consult a Denver personal injury attorney versed in elder care and nursing home abuse litigation.

Unfortunately, even the best of searches can sometimes still lead to facilities and homes where elder abuse occurs. Institutional elder abuse generally refers to mistreatment occurring in residential facilities, usually perpetrated by someone with a legal or contractual obligation to provide some element of care or protection. Warning signs of the institutional elder a use include:

  1. Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions or burns can indicate
    physical abuse
  2. Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities and depression can indicate
    emotional abuse
  3. Bedsores, poor hygiene, and weight loss can indicate neglect

If you suspect elder abuse in any of its forms, you should report it and the facility or home to adult protective and long-term care ombudsman programs. You can also report suspected abuse and/or licensing violations to the Colorado Department of Social Services.

If you are advocating on someone’s behalf, an effective option is filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages for injuries sustained due to abuse and/or neglect. Contact your Denver personal injury attorney at Levine Law for more information on your legal options regarding nursing home abuse or neglect.