There are no national statistics that give an accurate picture of the extent of elder abuse and nursing home abuse. However, according to a report published by the US government in March, incidents of such abuse have been steadily increasing. According to that report, the number of cases of Florida elder abuse increased 18% between 2008 and 2010. This is a cause for concern for the many millions of American families who need to place an elderly parent in care because the elderly loved one requires extensive care. According to experts, nursing home residents are especially at risk, because many patients in these facilities have dementia, a condition which can make them vulnerable. As well, nursing home staff can be overworked and underpaid, which can also help set the stage for abuse to take place. According to experts, the first step in preventing this type of abuse is to select a facility carefully. Families can do this by:
1) Researching carefully. It is best to consider a variety of facilities in your area. Take a look at online reviews and speak with friends, family, and your local doctor to see whether you can get recommendations for some facilities. Another good option is to speak with a long-term care ombudsman in your area; this professional will often be able to give you good information about options in your area. Find out as much as you can about each facility. Look for options that include a smaller staff to patient ratio and at least 3.5 hours of nursing care per day per resident.
2) Budgeting. Long-term care for elderly patients can be quite expensive and facility costs do not always cover doctor care, medication, and other necessities. Get a break-down of costs and do the math to determine what you can afford. Call your health care insurance provider to determine what is and is not covered.
3) Taking visits seriously. Once you have narrowed down your search to nursing homes and care facilities that seem promising and are affordable, you will need to schedule some visits. Experts suggest making several visits to each place that seems promising. Going at different times of the day can paint a very different picture. It is especially important to visit in the evening, since this is when staff will be most sparse. In the evenings, is there still adequate staff for good care? Can you speak with some residents to ask them about their experience? How do staff interact with residents and patients? How pleasant is the environment? What is the food like? Look for a facility with very experienced directors of nursing, facility administrators, and medical directors. These three people are directly responsible for care.
4) Ask lots of questions. Nursing homes are subject to federal inspections — ask any nursing home you are considering for a copy of this report, which will outline any accusations or reports of Florida elder abuse at the facility. Also, one government report suggests that up to 92% of nursing homes have at least one staff member with a criminal background. Ask all facilities whether they do background checks and whether they have anyone on staff who has been convicted of a crime. Ask about staff turnover rates and rates of pay – low turnover rates and higher pay can mean that staff are happier and that abuse is less likely to happen. As well, ask to see the written policies about elder abuse – a strong policy and a willingness to discuss the topic can be reassuring.
Even with the most pro-active care, however, elderly abuse can happen. If a member of your family has suffered from nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the Flaxman Law Group today. The Flaxman Law Group has helped thousands of families in South Florida, including the Miami, Homestead, and Hollywood communities. We have extensive experience as well as a compassionate, caring legal team. Call the Flaxman Law Group today to arrange for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case.