Los Angeles County and state officials are getting ready to improve nursing home inspection and oversight duties as part of a drive to better manage a terrible backlog of investigations relating to complaints of nursing home abuse and neglect. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget would increase county funding to improve enforcement programs for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The proposal would also limit county responsibilities for policing those facilities.
Both the state and county enforcement programs relating to nursing homes have been affected by significant delays. In Los Angeles County, there are over 10,000 open complaints and incidents self-reported by facilities. Of those cases, 2,700 have been open for more than two years. Last year, a county audit showed that some complaints were shut down without a proper investigation. In other cases, citations by inspectors were downgraded by supervisors.
Nursing Home Abuse
The issue of neglect and abuse in nursing homes is very real and deeply troubling. There are a number of different types of abuse that occur in nursing homes:
- Physical abuse: This occurs when physical force is used to injure or harm an elderly victim. Physical abuse may include hitting, shoving, pushing or inappropriate use of restraints. Warning signs include bruises or other signs of physical injuries.
- Emotional abuse: This occurs quite a bit in elder care scenarios, be it in a nursing facility or at home. Emotional abuse could include ridicule, humiliation, intimidation or ignoring the person. Demeaning behavior is also considered emotional abuse.
- Sexual abuse: This is when non-consensual sexual contact is made with an elder. It could occur against the person’s wishes or in a scenario where the elder is not able to give consent because he or she has dementia or Alzheimer’s.
- Financial abuse: Stealing money or personal property are common forms of financial elder abuse. This could include forgery, credit card or check fraud or coercing the elder to modify a deed, will or trust.
- Neglect: This occurs when the resident does not receive proper medical, physical or emotional attention. Neglect poses serious hazards to nursing home residents.
Protecting Victims’ Rights
Often, nursing home abuse victims are not properly protected by enforcing or governmental agencies. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, please make sure you visit them frequently so you have an opportunity to prevent a tragedy before it occurs. Report the incident to administrators. If a criminal act has occurred, report to local law enforcement. If your loved one has been injured as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, it would be in your best interest to seek the counsel of an experienced California nursing home abuse lawyer who will fight for your rights and hold the negligent facility accountable.