Living in a Nursing Home: A Dangerous Sentence?
A recent article in The New York Times brought up serious concerns about the quality of care in nursing homes—especially in the State of California.
One particular facility in Bakersfield received dishonorable mention: even after the State had declared it “improved,” staff allowed a paralyzed patient to slip from her wheelchair, not once, but THREE separate times. The patient fractured her hip on the third fall. This nursing home was removed from probation in 2014, and since then has racked up $126,300 in fines for various violations. Apparently, the company and nursing home staff did not get the message the first time.
Good care is crucial for all patients—especially the vulnerable.
Special Focus Facilities (SFFs)
If you’re looking into assisted living, especially in California, you NEED to know this term.
A “special focus facility” is a designation given by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to a nursing home that has a persistent record of poor care, going back more than three years. You can see which homes are currently on (or recently off) the list right here. The New York Times found that 52% of these facilities that are still operating have harmed patients AFTER being let off the list!
How do these nursing homes put patients in serious jeopardy?
Giving the wrong medications. Failing to stop resident-on-resident violence. Hiding residents’ injuries from their families and doctors.
The CMS warns about “yo-yo” compliance—when a facility brings up standards just in time for inspection, then lets them lapse again afterward—but rarely returns offending facilities to the watch list, putting them in danger of losing Medicare and Medicaid funding. Instead, CMS often gives the nursing home fines, allowing patients keep getting hurt. Though only 88 homes nationwide are allowed to be on the official list, regulators have identified over 435 that need to be watched. Many facilities attempt to change their ways by simply changing their names (like the one in Bakersfield). This is unacceptable.
What’s the Cause?
For the most part, understaffing. Research from Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website shows that the lack of good care in these nursing homes has to do with a lack of nurses. The worse a facility’s nurse-to-patient ratio, the worse it tends to treat patients.
Of course, some abuse is malicious, and can be based on age, race, religion, or perceived “difficult” patients.
Long Beach attorney Travis Siegel has seen it firsthand. That’s why he dedicates his entire law practice to fighting elder abuse and neglect, wherever it happens. Education is the first step in preventing these horrible crimes, so here are the signs of elder abuse. If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from poor care at a nursing home, you can report it to Adult Protective Services by calling (877) 4-R-SENIORS (477-3646). If you and your family need legal guidance, please call Siegel Law at 562-645-4145 to speak with Travis in a free consultation. The safety of your loved one is important, so don’t delay.