Placing a loved one in a nursing home is one of the toughest decisions family members make; however, sometimes placing a loved one in a nursing home cannot be avoided. Family members struggle with placing their loved one in a nursing home for many reasons. For many, the fear of nursing home neglect and elder abuse are at the top of their concerns about moving their loved one to a long-term care facility. Are Pennsylvania families justified in fearing their loved ones will be abused or neglected in a nursing home?
Is Pennsylvania State Agencies Failing Seniors?
Michael Clark had been caring for his elderly mother at home; however, he had to move her into a Philadelphia nursing home when caring for her became too much for him to handle alone. When visiting his mother just 10 days later, he found her slumped over a table in the cafeteria in obvious distress. She complained of neck pain and could not life her head. Clark’s mother had to be admitted to Pennsylvania hospital for two weeks followed by another ten days of therapy at a different nursing home.
This is a tragic and inexcusable story; however, what happened to Clark next is both frustrating and infuriating. Clark filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Instead of the in-depth investigation Clark expected, the facility was cleared after what appears to be a cursory investigation. According to Samuel Brooks of Community Legal Services, Inc., the process is much like the police responding to a 911 call and clearing the suspect after only listening to the suspect’s side of the story.
An Ongoing Problem in Pennsylvania
PennLive reporters conducted a six-month investigation into Pennsylvania nursing homes. The results were startling. The reporters concluded after searching thousands of nursing home inspection reports that state investigations were flawed and the consequences for poor or failed inspections were minimal or non-existent. According to PennLive, “Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of bad nursing homes in the nation and dozens of people have died due to care-related mistakes in recent years.”
As a result of the investigation, PennLive reporters found dozens of avoidable deaths in Pennsylvania nursing homes that regulators overlooked or let slip through the cracks. The nursing homes that were cited faced very weak consequences. In response to the six-month investigation, several state officials are calling for internal investigations and other actions to address the matter.
What Can I Do?
If you are placing your loved one in a nursing home, thoroughly research each facility you are considering. However, your work does not end after you choose a nursing home. You need to continue to be vigilant to protect your loved one from nursing home abuse and neglect. Visit often and at different times. Carefully watch how the staff interacts with residents and carefully observe the conditions of the nursing home and the residents. Always watch for signs of abuse and neglect.
If you suspect nursing home abuse, report the abuse immediately. The Pennsylvania Department of Aging has a 24-hour hotline (1-800-490-8505) to report abuse. Also file a complaint with your local Ombudsman office.
Do You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse?
If you suspect a friend or family member is being abused or neglected in a Pennsylvania nursing home, take action immediately. Report the abuse and contact our office to speak with a Pennsylvania nursing home abuse attorney. Contact The Travis Law Firm toll free at (800) 401-2066 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.