The New Financial Side of Hospice Care

Profiting from Bad Hospice Ethics

Last week, we discussed a recent phenomenon in the hospice care industry that’s quickly becoming an elder abuse concern. Specifically, hospice—a form of care designed to allow “patients to die at home or in other familiar surroundings,” according to an article in the Washington Post—has turned into a financially lucrative business. But is it an ethical one? Are hospice companies acting outside the boundaries of the law? And is it possible to take legal action against hospice chains that recruit patients who aren’t suffering from a terminal illness?

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First, it’s important to have a clear idea about why hospices are bringing in relatively healthy older adults, and how these companies are profiting from non-terminal patients. How did this start to happen? In short, many hospice care centers have begun recruiting patients with aggressive marketing tactics, and many of those patients aren’t terminal. It’s in the financial interest of a hospice chain to “find patients well before death,” the Washington Post reported. And the reason is simple: “Medicare pays a hospice about $150 a day per patient for routine care, regardless of whether the company sends a nurse or any other worker out that day. That means healthier patients, who generally need less help and live longer, yield more profits.”

Whistleblowing Lawsuits

In an earlier post on hospice misuse, we suggested that one of the key problems with this new form of hospice care is that it’s draining Medicare funds. But more significantly, we also made clear that recruiting healthier patients in order to make a profit might in fact be grounds for a strong lawsuit.

When non-terminal hospice patients don’t receive adequate care or receive treatment they don’t need, those patients and their families may be eligible for financial compensation. Out of the ten largest hospice companies in the country, four have been sued by whistleblowers. The allegations say that these hospice companies “took in people who weren’t in declining health,” and as a result, those patients “were receiving care they didn’t need,” according to the Washington Post. The facts of most of these claims are straightforward.

One lawyer in Alabama who has been responsible for filing several of these lawsuits has described the issues at stake succinctly. “The root of the problem,” he explained, “is that a company profits when it admits patients who aren’t dying, and it is the hospice itself that helps determine whether a patient is dying.”

In order to be eligible for hospice care, two doctors must independently certify a patient for this specific type of care intended for people with terminal illnesses. This acts as a check against hospice companies that might bring in healthy older adults just to make a quick profit. Yet this system of checks dissipates after a patient has been admitted to hospice care. Hospice patients “must periodically be reapproved,” the Washington Post article explained. But hospice physicians—who work for hospice companies interested in making—usually are the ones who reapprove these patients.

What can be done? If you have an elderly loved one who is in hospice care but isn’t terminally ill, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. Has your loved one received the care she needs? Has she received improper care since she’s not actually in declining health? These are the precise issues that whistleblowers have raised in previous lawsuits, and hospice companies out to make a profit in California should be held responsible for resulting harms.

An experienced California elder law attorney can discuss your case with you. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about filing a claim for financial compensation.

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Illinois Works to Combat Preventable Bacterial Infections in Nursing Homes

Like hospitals, nursing homes are unique locations in which many individual with illnesses and ailments are brought together under one roof. While using these institutions is critical, moving in actually comes with certain increased health risks. Most notably, knowing that various contagions are passed from one person to another, there is a greater chance of already-sick individuals acquiring an infection caught while at the nursing home or hospital. This is a well-known problem and one of the key reasons that caregivers must be vigilantly about cleanliness, hand-washing, and similar matters.

IDPH Initiative
In fact, at the beginning of this year, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) launched an initiative to tackle this problem, often referred to generally as “health care-associated infections.” In particular, CRE infections (referring to carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriasceae) are particularly troublesome because they are becoming more common in these facilities and prove difficult to treat. Because CREs resist the work of typical antibiotics, those afflicted are often left nearly defenseless. Earlier this week, we reported on a mass outbreak of CRE connected to the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital.

As discussed in a recent report, enterobacteriaceae refers to a family of dozens of bacteria usually rooted in the digestive system. Many of these have grown to resist antibiotics, resulting in death rates of nearly 50% for residents unfortunate enough to contract them.

To help tackle the problem in the past, the IDPH worked with hundreds of Illinois hospitals a nursing homes in a unique pilot project. In addition, last November, the department began to track CRE infections via a new registry. The idea is that the tracking system will improve communication between healthcare entities, allowing better understanding the infection and options for tackling the problem.

Now, this year, the IDPH plans to coordinate a larger, state-wide effort to help all relevant facilities follow best-practices related to using antibiotics responsibly to quash the spread of these bloodstream infections which grow to resist the antibiotics.

Infection & Malpractice
Identifying negligent health care, in hospitals and nursing homes, involves a complex range of considerations. In most cases it is impossible to say without detailed investigation that any single injury or ailment was or was not caused by lapsed standards. Infections in particular are notoriously difficult to identify as connected to poor treatment. On one hand, the acquisition of bacterial infections may occur at random and nothing single action can usually be proven to have caused the acquisition. However, chronic problem with basic infection-control protocols can often lead to clear instances of resident-infection.

In most cases, legal liability only attaches in these matters when there are clear identifiers of neglect, like failure to sterilize equipment or failure to respond to mass outbreaks in a reasonable manner. For example, in the nursing home, seniors are uniquely vulnerable to acquiring these infections and suffering life-threatening injury as a result. For that reason, it is critical that caregivers follow clear safety procedures like washing hands, keeping living spaces clean, using clean equipment and more. Repeated failure to follow these basic steps is negligent

If you have questions about whether an injury or infection in your loved one can be traced to negligence, or if you were affected by the outbreak at Advocate Lutheran, please contact our neglect attorneys to see how we can help.

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Fire Destroys Adult Home for the Disabled, Two Die

In California, people who are in need of custodial care, whether it’s due to age or some other disability, often seek out care homes licensed by the State of California. To be licensed, a home or facility must follow stringent state regulations that cover all aspects of care and safety, including in the event of fire.homefire.jpg

During the early hours of this morning, a fire broke out a Mary’s Home in Santa Ana, a residential care facility for the developmentally disabled. According to reports, a caregiver was making breakfast when a smoke alarm was first heard. Outside, a neighbor also heard the alarm and saw smoke, and ran to a window and saw flames and a mattress on fire. Within seconds the room was engulfed in flames and several people were trapped inside.

Orange County firefighters responded quickly to the blaze, but not soon enough to save the lives of two disabled women who apparently died in their respective bedrooms. A 71-year-old caregiver was seriously injured in the fire, but expected to survive. The house was home to six disabled women in their 30s through 60s.

It’s unclear if, or when, this home was inspected by the state or local fire authorities for fire risk, which typically includes an inspection of the premises, and documentation of a fire-related plan to ensure all residents can be evacuated from the premises quickly (especially if some residents are non-ambulatory).

The Orange County Register has provided excellent video coverage of the incident:

The Walton Law Firm represents individuals and families throughout Southern California for injuries and fatalities arising from the care of the elderly or dependent adults, including the developmentally disabled. For a free and confidential consultation please call (866) 607-1325.

Ensure Your Senior Loved Ones Stay Warm

The start of 2014 will likely always be remembered for one thing: the weather. Schools are closed, businesses are shuttered, and many Chicagoans are hunkered down in their homes, trying to stay warm and wait out the frigid weather pattern. Chicagoans are used to mounds of snow and cold temperatures. But rarely have we seen both in such as combo as is engulfing this part of the country right now.

According to the most recent reports, our area is experiencing one of the coldest streaks in decades. With temperatures plunging well below zero and winds moving as usual, spending too much time outside in this weather poses serious health risks to even the heartiest of residents. The dangers are even more acute for those most at risks, including seniors and nursing home residents.

Frostbite, Hypothermia, and the Danger of Cold
As the Chicago Tribune reminded readers yesterday, the elderly and young children are most at risk from cold weather injuries. For one thing, when part of the skin is exposed to these extreme temperatures for too long, the tissue can become frozen due to the body’s inability to provide proper circulation. This is commonly referred to as frostbite. The first sign of frostbite is lost feeling in the area, which then results in the skin turning white, gray, and waxy. Small extremities are most at risk, like fingers, toes, ears and the nose.

Alternatively, a general cooling of the body is known as hypothermia. It is often even more dangerous than frostbite and should always be treated by professionals. Hypothermia refers to a dangerous drop in the body’s overall temperature (which usually runs steady around 98.6 degrees). Technically, hypothermia is usually defined as existing when the body’s internal temperature falls to 95 degrees or lower. It is not uncommon for hypothermia to lead to serious complications. At least six people have died in the area already this year from the body temperature drop.

Protect Senior Loved Ones
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) recently released helpful information and tips sharing details about the danger of hypothermia affecting older residents. Common ailments–like diabetes–and medications typically taken by seniors can complicate hypothermia, making it easier to set in and harder to recover from. To help prevent your senior loved one from experiencing hypothermia in these frigid temperatures, the NIA shared several recommendations, including:

–Keep the thermostat high. Believe it or not, in this weather, even homes at 60 or 65 degrees can result in severe drop in body temperature for seniors.

–Using clothing layers as much as possible. Long underwear, extra socks, multiple sweaters, blankets, and other layering tools are flexible and helpful to ensure proper warmth.

–Check with doctors to determine if medications or other treatments increase hypothermia risks.

All of these tips seem straightforward, but many seniors may not appreciate the risks. Others may face cognitive challenges which make it difficult for them to take the steps necessary to protect themselves. As always, it is better to be cautious with these matters. Stay indoors, ensuring proper temperatures, and wait out this cold streak.

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Overuse and Misuse of Hospice Care

Have you been urged to place your elderly parent in hospice care despite the fact that he or she is not terminally ill? Hospice care is intended for patients who are terminally ill and for whom there is no cure. So why are healthy older adults ending up in hospice? A recent article in the Washington Post revealed that this phenomenon might be a larger problem than we’d like to think. Indeed, over the 2000s, the newspaper reported that the “number of ‘hospice survivors’ in the United States has risen dramatically.” What’s going on? According to the article, “hospice companies earn more by recruiting patients who aren’t actually dying,” since “healthier patients are more profitable because they require fewer visits and stay enrolled longer.”

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If you have been pressured to move a parent into hospice care, your elderly loved one might not receive the kind of treatment she or he needs. For-profit companies shouldn’t be allowed to take advantage of older adults. Indeed, we might think of these actions as another form of elder abuse. It’s important to speak to an experienced elder law attorney about your options.

Hospice Discharge Statistics

According to the Washington Post, more patients than ever are being discharged from hospice care centers—something that was never intended to happen based on the primary tenets of hospice care. In fact, the number of patients who have been discharged over the past decade has risen substantially. Between 2002 and 2012, “the proportion of patients who were discharged alive from hospice care rose about 50 percent,” based on an analysis conducted by the newspaper.

For example, at AseraCare, one of the largest hospice chains in America, “about 78 percent of patients who enrolled at the Mobile, Alabama branch left the hospice’s care alive,” while “as many as 59 percent of patients left the AseraCare branch in nearby Foley, Alabama alive.”

That investigation relied on records from more than one million hospice patients in California over the past decade. According to the article, California is a good source for information about hospice care and discharge rates. The state keeps detailed records that are readily available to the public, but since the state is so large, it also “offers a portrait of the industry.”

Over the past decade as discharge rates rose, so did the average length of a patient’s stay in hospice care. As a result, hospice centers earned significantly more profits. In fact, based on records from California, “profit per patient quintupled, to $1,975.” And much of those funds came from Medicare. Is the government paying money it doesn’t need to provide to for-profit hospice care companies?

The For-Profit Hospice Industry and Patient Harms

As hospice has become a multi-billion for-profit industry, hospice “recruiting” has become a money-making tool, and it’s putting a heavy burden on Medicare. According to the Washington Post, about $15 billion of hospice industry revenue came directly from Medicare in 2012. That’s a huge percentage of the industry’s profit. And that percentage only seems to be rising, according to research undertaken by MedPAC, the government Medicare watchdog group.

There are more serious problems than the drain on Medicare, as well. Former hospice workers have alleged that hospice patients don’t receive the care they need when they’re not terminally ill. The Justice Department “joined several of these lawsuits,” according to the article. In short, hospice companies make more money when they have patients, regardless of whether those patients are terminally ill. Yet, many of those patients suffer in the long run—they don’t receive proper care for non-terminal illnesses since they’re assumed to be dying.

If you have been pressured to place your elderly loved one in hospice care, you should speak to an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer today. At the Walton Law Firm, we want to put an end to the overuse and misuse of hospice care. Contact us today to discuss your case.

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Advocate Lutheran General Hospital Connected to Largest Ever CRE Outbreak

In a troubling report, the Sun Times reported yesterday on claims from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about a serious bacterial outbreak connected to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Oak Park. Specifically, reports suggest that at least 44 individual cases were identified of patients contracting carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE), of which 38 were from the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge in northeastern Illinois. CRE is a particularly lethal medical complications that can affect residents in nursing homes and hospitals.

The CDC reports that the outbreak likely stemmed from patients at the Park Ridge hospital who were treated for a particular endoscopic procedure affecting the pancreas or bile ducts during the first nine months of last year. The CDC noted that these particular procedures are well-known for leading to increased risk of contracting CRE.

The Advocate Lutheran problem was first identified last summer, after at least six patients returned to the facility with CRE after undergoing the same procedure. In the face of clear concerns that many other patients may have been exposed to the bacteria, the facility began contacting patients and screening them for problems.

In the aftermath, the facility has changed that ways that scopes are cleaned and sterilized. However, there is still uncertainty over whether there were any lapses in protocol connected to the sterilization or procedure itself.

CRE – The Deadly Infection
Unfortunately, CRE is becoming more common in nursing homes and hospitals. First identified in 2009, CRE is a serious concern because of strains that are resistant to antibiotics. The bacteria include 70 different strains, like E. coli, that live in the digestive system. Particularly deadly, these bacteria sometimes grow resistant to all antibiotic treatment options. In fact, the bacteria can even grow resistant to the “antibiotic of last resort,” carbapenems, leading to the CRE name (carbapenems resistant)

In addition, according to the CDC,the infection almost exclusively targets those who are already sick–like hospital patients and nursing home residents. Even among the ill, there are a certain subset of patients that are at a particular risk. The CDC explains that individuals using ventilators, catheters, or those already taking long antibiotics courses are prone to CRE. When the bacteria germ becomes resistant to cabapenems then some suggest that the death rate may reach 50%. The stake are quite high.

Considering that CRE is relatively new–first identified in 2009–the CDC is still grappling to learn more about the infection. To help, the CDC has a special tracking website that hopes to be used to identify those at risks, and stop outbreaks before they are able to spread to more patients. To learn more, feel free to browse the CDC’s Healthcare-associated Infection website.

It is critical that hospitals and nursing homes throughout Illinois do everything in their power to prevent the spread of CRE. Considering the serious consequences of infection, it is acceptable for safety steps to be breached which cause harm to residents. For more information on your legal options following contraction of CRE, please contact our neglect attorneys today to learn more.

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Improving the Quality of Care in Illinois Nursing Homes

Like many states, Illinois attempts to ensure the quality of care in nursing homes and long-term care facilities by enacting legislation to punish facilities that fail to meet state standards. But a recent article in the Annals of Long Term Care argues that a state-sponsored incentive program would be much more effective in improving conditions in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Improving the quality of nursing home care in Illinois continues to be a struggle. In pursuit of this goal, the Illinois legislature enacted the Nursing Home Care Act. This traditional approach seeks to improve the quality of care by imposing fines and sanctions on facilities that fail to meet state standards. Yet each quarter, the Illinois Department of Public Health releases a report of the many facilities that are found to be in violation of the Nursing Home Care Act. This approach only incentives nursing homes to meet a minimum standard of care for residents – it does nothing to reward those facilities that provide exceptional services for their residents.

Incentive Program
In the recent article A State-Sponsored Approach to Quality Improvement in Nursing Homes: Insights From Providers, authors Kathleen Abrahamson, Priscilla Arling, and Greg Arling argue that a performance-based incentive payment program (PIPP) can be more effective in improving the quality of care in nursing homes than traditional methods. In exploring the possibilities for incentivizing increased quality of care, the authors examined Minnesota’s PIPP program, created in 2006. The Minnesota PIPP program encouraged long-term health care providers to create sustainable quality improvements in their facilities. The state provided funding for projects that addressed quality issues such as falls, psychotropic medications, pain control, mobility, continence, resident-centered care, and care transition.

Ultimately, many of the projects substantially improved the quality of care for elderly residents within participating facilities. These projects serve as models for other nursing homes, and the increased state funding provides an additional incentive to raise the quality of care beyond the minimum required by state law.

Illinois’ Attempt at an Incentive Program
In 1985, Illinois enacted the Illinois Quality Incentive Program. The stated goal of the program was to reward facilities for improving resident care beyond minimum state and federal standards. Under the program, nursing homes were given a separate bonus payment per Medicaid day for achievement in six categories: (1) structure and environment? (2) resident participation and choice? (3) community and family participation? (4) resident satisfaction? (5) care plans? and (6) specialized intensive services.

Despite these admirable goals, the program failed to meet its goals. The Long Term Care Community Coalition found that there was a disconnect between the incentives and the quality for care. For example, adding a fish tank would earn a facility a reward, despite the fact that this addition had little impact on the quality of care for residents. The program was criticized for incentivizing “paper compliance,” rather than a significant improvement in the quality of care. After seven years, the program was discontinued.

Illinois can learn from Minnesota’s success. Unlike Illinois’s program, the Minnesota PIPP allowed providers to identify the areas in need of improvement, plan how to implement a change, and then execute the plan. Rather than blanket funding based on arbitrary standards, providers were required to submit individualized plans in order to receive funding. By modeling an incentive program after Minnesota’s success, Illinois can improve the quality of care for nursing home residents beyond the bare minimum required by law.

Improving the quality of care in nursing homes remains a struggle. Vulnerable residents often become victims of abuse and neglect. If you suspect that your loved one is being mistreated at a nursing home, it is important that you contact a qualified attorney. Our skilled lawyers have extensive experience in litigating all types of cases related to nursing abuse and neglect in Illinois. Contact us today to learn how we may be able to help.

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Demographics Show That Incidents of Nursing Home Abuse Will Likely Rise

As reported by the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Center on Elder Abuse, the 2010 Census revealed that nearly 40.3 million people – or roughly 13% of the entire U.S. population – are over the age of 65. As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, it is expected that Americans over the age of 65 will comprise 20% of the total population by 2050. This growing population will likely strain existing health care providers and lead to an increase in incidents of elder mistreatment.

What is Elder Mistreatment?
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines elder mistreatment – also known as elder abuse or neglect – as “intentional actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm (whether or not harm is intended) to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person who stands in a trust relationship to the elder.” This definition includes harm caused by a caregiver’s failure to “satisfy the elder’s basic needs or to protect the elder from harm” and financial exploitation.

Elder mistreatment occurs in residential and commercial settings. While nearly 90% of abusers are family members, elder abuse is unfortunately common in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. According to the HHS’s National Center on Elder Abuse, 44% of 2,000 nursing home residents interviewed said they had been abused, and 95% said they had been neglected or seen another resident neglected. The HHS also found that, as of 2001, 90% of nursing homes were unable to give adequate care to residents because of understaffing.

Certain risk factors are associated with elder mistreatment. Women and individuals with disabilities are more likely to be abused than men and people without disabilities. The Center on Elder Abuse found that 33% of adult women with disabilities reported an experience with interpersonal violence, as compared to 21% of institutionalized adult women without disabilities. Finally, other vulnerabilities, such as dementia, also make a person more prone to elder abuse and mistreatment.

Signs of Elder Mistreatment
It is often hard to recognize elder mistreatment. If a loved one is in a long-term care facility or nursing home, it may be difficult to visit often. The elderly may be reluctant to self-report abuse or mistreatment from fear of retaliation, or a lack of physical and/or cognitive ability to do so. Likewise, many people are unaware of the signs of elder mistreatment. In an effort to educate the public, the HHS’s Administration on Aging has compiled a list of elder abuse warning signs. Among the warning signs listed, the HHS includes:

-Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, or burns
-Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, or unusual depression
-Sudden changes in financial situations
-Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, or unusual weight loss
-Strained or tense relationships, or frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person

If You Suspect Elder Abuse, Contact an Illinois Lawyer
If you have noticed any signs of elder abuse in a nursing home or long-term care facility, or if you suspect that your loved one may be a victim of neglect, it is critical that you contact a skilled nursing home abuse and neglect attorney. It is also important to remember that risk factors such as gender and disability may make your loved one more prone to abuse. Our skilled lawyers have extensive experience in litigating all matters related to nursing abuse and neglect in Illinois. Contact us today and together we can put an end to the abuse.

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Assisted Living Facilities Fail to Pay Fines

Recent news reports from U-T San Diego have emphasized serious elder care neglect issues in Southern California. From fatal medical errors to clear-cut cases of nursing home abuse, many facilities in the San Diego area don’t appear to be up to snuff. Yet, there’s even more troubling news. According to a recent article in U-T San Diego, it looks as if there may be a serious problem with enforcement. Even when the state steps in and fines these senior homes, the facilities aren’t paying up. The article succinctly explained, “a key mechanism in getting assisted-living homes to live up to their commitment to take proper care of seniors is broken.”

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If residential facilities are not held to the fines levied against them by the California Department of Social Services when they’re found to have committed elder abuse or elder neglect, what is to stop these care homes from behaving negligently? It can be difficult to know whether a loved one has been subject to nursing home abuse and neglect, but it’s always a good idea to speak to an elder justice advocate. If you believe an older adult has been the victim of elder neglect, you should contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney.

Negligent Fine Collection by the Department of Social Services?

The U-T San Diego Watchdog group reported that “most fines levied against assisted-living homes by the California Department of Social Services for failing to take proper care of their elderly residents either don’t get paid or are collected way beyond their due date.” In fact, it appears that “only about half of the $2.9 million in penalties” has been collected by the California Department of Social Services since 2007.

As the Watchdog team points out, this “dismal record defeats the whole purpose of these fines.” Indeed, by levying fines against residential facilities for elder care violations, the Department should be sending a message that these facilities must abide by regulations, and if they violate the law, they’ll have to pay a substantial fine. But if the Department isn’t enforcing the fines and isn’t following up on collections, there’s “no effective threat of punishment,” and more significantly, “there’s no incentive for these residential-care facilities to shape up.”

It’s particularly important that these facilities take better care of their residents, especially given the recent news that many care homes improperly handle medical errors and end up with preventable deaths. According to U-T San Diego, at least 27 older adults from the San Diego area have died while in the care of an assisted living home due to serious injuries and elder neglect.

Why isn’t the Department more concerned? It may be that it simply “has way much to do,” and the fine enforcement has fallen by the wayside. For instance, the California Department of Social Services licenses more than 70,000 facilities, such as daycare centers and adoption agencies. In addition, the Department may suffer from a dearth of qualified staff members. Indeed, “department employees often lack formal medical training and only inspect homes once every five years.” Earlier investigations by U-T San Diego have found that serious allegations of elder abuse and neglect “are often dismissed with only a cursory probe, and the department’s 54-member ‘police force’ hasn’t made an arrest in nine years.”

Unfortunately, elder abuse occurs much too often in Southern California. Whether you have an older relative in a nursing home or an assisted living facility, it’s important to pay attentions for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. If you suspect an elderly loved one isn’t receiving the care she needs, contact an experienced California nursing home abuse lawyer at the Walton Law Firm today.

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Back to the Basics: Choosing a Nursing Home

Making the choice to transition a loved one to a nursing home can be exhausting, frustrating, confusing, and stressful. Perhaps the most difficult part of this transition can be selecting the best nursing home to meet your loved one’s specific needs. Stories of nursing home abuse are scary and highlight some of the worst actions by care facilities. Reports of nursing home abuse and elder abuse are astonishingly high, with The National Center on Elder Abuse reported that in 2010 9.5% of the elder population was abused, including nursing home abuse. With nursing home abuse reports so high, it is essential that you carefully consider your options when selecting the best nursing home to meet your needs.

Consulting A Checklist
The first step to choosing a nursing home is to find the facilities in your area. Both the Illinois Department of Public Health and Medicare.gov have helpful checklists to consult when reviewing different nursing homes. These checklists include items such as:

· Is the facility currently licensed?
· Are the staff and administrator helpful?
· Do the residents look well cared for?
· Is there a written statement of residents’ rights?
· Does the facility have a good reputation?
· Are there any reported issue with the nursing home?

Other considerations include:

· Location
· Cleanliness
· Safety
· Medical, dental, and other services
· Nursing staff
· Food and nutrition services
· Resident activities and rooms
· Cost

The Illinois Department of Public Health also publishes updated quarterly reports of nursing home facilities that have violated state laws.

Visiting The Facility
The best way to compare the nursing homes you are considering is to visit each facility. An in-person visit offers many more advantages than a phone call with the facility administrator. A visit allows you to see whether the facility meets the above checklist. Visiting also can give you the chance to discuss everything with the staff and the residents (if appropriate) in person.

Paying for Long-Term Care
A key consideration is cost. Nursing homes that are certified by Medicare/Medicaid are required to inform residents and potential residents about all fees in writing. Additionally, Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes cannot require a cash deposit. Paying for a nursing home can be a challenge, but the state or your long-term care insurance may cover some or all of your costs. It is important to note that Medicare (and some forms of insurance) usually do not cover nursing home care. However, insurance or Medicare may be used to cover healthcare costs. Medicaid, administered jointly by the federal and state governments, may help to cover long-term care. Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has published a helpful guide to applying for financial assistance.

Unfortunately, even if your nursing home choice appears to be a safe, healthy facility, abuse can happen. Bedsores, medication errors, overmedication, financial exploitation, and neglect are common forms of nursing home abuse. If you or a loved one have been a victim of these or other types of nursing home abuse, contact our experienced Illinois nursing home abuse attorneys today to discuss your legal options to prevent future abuse.

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