GOP Candidate Rauner, Bankrupt Nursing Homes, Political Intrigue

In United States District Bankruptcy Court in Tampa, Florida, a judge decided to allow a case to proceed (basically meaning that he will not dismiss the case at this juncture) that involves allegations that a private equity firm botched the financing of nursing home management companies that are being sued for neglect and wrongful death of patient residents. The equity investment firm at the heart of this case was managed by Bruce Rauner, who now seeks to unseat current Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in the upcoming state gubernatorial election. Mr. Rauner is no longer with the firm as he seeks political office. In the suit, plaintiffs allege that Rauner’s equity firm, GTCR, instituted particular financial restrictions on the nursing homes it owned such that patients consequently suffered negligent care, and many died.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the equity firm financed a nursing home firm called Trans Healthcare Inc. in the late 1990s. By 2004, Trans Healthcare Inc. faced a number of negligence claims for lack of care of the patients. The nursing home firm subsequently had to restate prior financial statements to show a serious net loss of $26.6 million, as opposed to the net gain of $9.4 million previously reported. By 2009, the company had to enter a receivership after selling a subsidiary to an entity called Fundamental Long Term Care Inc., which itself was forced into bankruptcy after it had to pay damages awards in negligent care lawsuits. These judgments became a part of the claims against the company in its bankruptcy filing, thus bringing enforcement of these awards under the purview of the federal bankruptcy court in Tampa. Plaintiffs in the case seek over $1 billion in damages awarded to them in states courts in Florida for the negligence claims.

Their litigation in the bankruptcy court is also specifically against the former principal of the equity firm and director of the nursing home firms it financed for his breach of fiduciary duty as well as against the firm itself for “aiding and abetting” this breach. This portion of the claims arises out of an alleged scheme to avoid paying judgments: In addition to the claims of complicity in the negligent abuse and wrongful deaths of nursing home patients, the equity firm was also accused of making fraudulent asset transfers in order to keep them away from plaintiffs.

Putting Profits Over Seniors
Candidate Rauner was chairman of the equity firm GTCR throughout the relevant time period up until 2012, when he left to run for the governor’s chair. He was not named as an individual defendant in the bankruptcy lawsuit. Yet that does not mean that his conduct was not part of the situation.

This case demonstrates the ongoing tragedy of negligent and unnecessary abuse and death that goes on in nursing homes. It further demonstrates, however, the complexities where nursing homes owners are financed by equity firms, and often must follow certain restrictions or limitations imposed on them by the equity owners and management, in this case financial controls that presumably limited the care the nursing homes could provide. While the political implications make for good theater, the focus must be on the danger of poor management that seriously impact the elderly and disabled residents of these homes, and their families.

GOP Candidate Rauner, Bankrupt Nursing Homes, Political Intrigue

In United States District Bankruptcy Court in Tampa, Florida, a judge decided to allow a case to proceed (basically meaning that he will not dismiss the case at this juncture) that involves allegations that a private equity firm botched the financing of nursing home management companies that are being sued for neglect and wrongful death of patient residents. The equity investment firm at the heart of this case was managed by Bruce Rauner, who now seeks to unseat current Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in the upcoming state gubernatorial election. Mr. Rauner is no longer with the firm as he seeks political office. In the suit, plaintiffs allege that Rauner’s equity firm, GTCR, instituted particular financial restrictions on the nursing homes it owned such that patients consequently suffered negligent care, and many died.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the equity firm financed a nursing home firm called Trans Healthcare Inc. in the late 1990s. By 2004, Trans Healthcare Inc. faced a number of negligence claims for lack of care of the patients. The nursing home firm subsequently had to restate prior financial statements to show a serious net loss of $26.6 million, as opposed to the net gain of $9.4 million previously reported. By 2009, the company had to enter a receivership after selling a subsidiary to an entity called Fundamental Long Term Care Inc., which itself was forced into bankruptcy after it had to pay damages awards in negligent care lawsuits. These judgments became a part of the claims against the company in its bankruptcy filing, thus bringing enforcement of these awards under the purview of the federal bankruptcy court in Tampa. Plaintiffs in the case seek over $1 billion in damages awarded to them in states courts in Florida for the negligence claims.

Their litigation in the bankruptcy court is also specifically against the former principal of the equity firm and director of the nursing home firms it financed for his breach of fiduciary duty as well as against the firm itself for “aiding and abetting” this breach. This portion of the claims arises out of an alleged scheme to avoid paying judgments: In addition to the claims of complicity in the negligent abuse and wrongful deaths of nursing home patients, the equity firm was also accused of making fraudulent asset transfers in order to keep them away from plaintiffs.

Putting Profits Over Seniors
Candidate Rauner was chairman of the equity firm GTCR throughout the relevant time period up until 2012, when he left to run for the governor’s chair. He was not named as an individual defendant in the bankruptcy lawsuit. Yet that does not mean that his conduct was not part of the situation.

This case demonstrates the ongoing tragedy of negligent and unnecessary abuse and death that goes on in nursing homes. It further demonstrates, however, the complexities where nursing homes owners are financed by equity firms, and often must follow certain restrictions or limitations imposed on them by the equity owners and management, in this case financial controls that presumably limited the care the nursing homes could provide. While the political implications make for good theater, the focus must be on the danger of poor management that seriously impact the elderly and disabled residents of these homes, and their families.

Elder Care and Technology

We live in an age of technology, yet the elder care industry doesn’t seem to have taken notice.  According to a recent article in Forbes, the internet and other digital tools may be able to improve the quality of elder care, and to attend to matters of elder abuse and neglect across the country.  We mentioned a recent story about elder financial abuse and online mapping.  This is only one of the tools that may help our older loved ones in the years to come.

Binary Code

Taking care of our elderly loved ones will be especially important in the coming years as the large number of Americans who make up the baby boomer generation grow old and require care in assisted living facilities and nursing homes.  While none of us likes to believe that nursing home neglect is a problem that can affect our loved ones, recent news stories throughout California suggest that elder abuse is a problem that afflicts many people.  As a result, it’s important to contact a nursing home abuse attorney if you suspect that your elderly loved one has been the victim of nursing home neglect.

High Costs of Elder Care

Right now, the cost of elder care “is enormous.”  Indeed, if current projections hold true, it will be close to a $320 billion industry in America by the year 2016.  While this figure presents a potentially “massive revenue opportunity for the incumbent elder care market,” it also means a significant increase in elder care costs for older adults and their loved ones.  A large majority of the costs are expected to come from in-home care or at-home care, as it’s “one of the fastest growing segments of this market.”  But what does this mean for new technological tools?

New Tools for Detecting Nursing Home Neglect

Elder care technology has been expanding in recent years, and “We’ve come a long way from the ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’ days.” Indeed, “safety monitoring and assistance technologies are improving quickly, being driven by advances in bio-sensing, sensory networks, robotics, telecommunications and cloud computing.”  While these terms can be mystifying for many of us who aren’t well acquainted with new technologies, in short they simply mean that new technologies are out there and they’re being put to use for improving elder care.

For instance, if your elderly loved one has sustained injuries because of nursing home neglect, a new technology may be able to alert you about significant health changes or bodily injuries.  A company called VitalConnect is in the process of developing “wearable health sensors.”  These devices, known as “wearables,” may have a significant impact on our ability to detect elder neglect at assisted living facilities and nursing homes across the country.  For “not only can [they] detect body vitals like temperature and heart rate, but [wearables] can also detect falls and other types of incidents.”  In short, technology may allow us to track the health of our elderly loved ones, and it may be able to let us know when something isn’t right.

And new technological innovations might also have the added benefit of lowering the already high costs of elder care.  Some of these new technologies likely will employ telehealth monitors, which can drastically reduce the number of emergency room visits since we’ll be able to treat ailments and injuries before they require a visit to the ER.  In other words, keeping seniors “out of the healthcare system and expensive caregiver market” by relying on technology can help significantly with care costs.

Contacting a California Elder Care Attorney

While technology may prove extremely beneficial for identifying elder abuse in a timely manner and providing better care for our elderly loved ones, it’s still in its early stages.  If you suspect that your loved one has sustained injuries at a nursing home or assisted living facility, it’s very important to speak to an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer.  At the Walton Law Firm, we have years of experience handling these cases and can answer your questions today.

See Related Blog Posts:

Elder Abuse and Educating Caregivers

Online Map to Track Elder Financial Abuse

Photo Credit: yamil.a.saade via Compfight cc

A Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights

Under current federal and state laws governing medical care, patients are protected by a “Patient’s Bill of Rights.” When you go to the doctor, at least for the first ever visit to that particular doctor, you receive a copy of a bill of rights that details your rights to things like competent medical care as well as privacy when it comes to your medical records. For example, the federal Medicare program prescribes just such a list, as shown on its website. For example, it states that nursing home residents have the right to be treated with respect, to manage their own finances, be honestly told about costs, fees and services, as well as rights to privacy and of course information about their medical condition, treatments and overall care.

Possible New Legislation
In Illinois, recently, a state legislator has toured the state encouraging nursing home residents to demand their own version of a bill of rights that would be protected by state law. This legislator hoped to acquire signatures from residents in support of a state bill that would do just that. The draft bill, formally known as Illinois Senate Bill 3450, or the Nursing Home Residents’ Managed Care Rights Act, has already been passed, and is on its way to the Illinois House of Representatives where, once out of committee, it would be put up for a vote to make it law. It provides for the enactment of language that would provide rights of more freedom of choice for nursing home residents. For example, rather than a managed-care organization making decisions about who will provide resident care and where it will occur, residents/patients themselves would be entitled to make those choices.

Naturally, managed care companies oppose the bill as it would remove their control over the delivery and continuity of care to nursing home residents and patients. On the other side, however, the Health Care Council of Illinois supports the bill because of its improvement on the old managed care system. Such prior management “was envisioned only for acute care in emergency situations” and provided zero protection for consumers. In the old paradigm, after a patient was released from a doctor’s care to a nursing home, any decisions on treatment or prescriptions would fall under the purview of the managed care provider. Residents could even be transferred between homes at the whim of the managed care provider. Now, with this bill, patients would get more control over their care and choice of doctor. Their doctor’s decisions would prevail over any others so that patients could receive the care that a medical provider determines, as opposed to a manager at a desk. While the new system would be still a form of Medicaid managed care, it would nevertheless be vastly improved.

Understanding IL Nursing Home Resident Rights
If this bill passes the House and becomes law after the Governor affixes his signature, it will be important for nursing home residents to ensure that their rights are respected and that they benefit under the new provisions as they should. A resident’s right (and the family’s right in certain circumstances) to make important decisions and for their doctors to make important decisions on their medical care is the crux of this potential new law, and could continue to pave the way for improvement in nursing home care across the country, much as the Affordable Care Act has already initiated relative to homes receiving federal reimbursements.

Related Links:

Nursing Home Negligence – Wandering and Elopement

Elder Financial Exploitation in Aurora Nursing Home

Recovering for Grief & Sorrow After Illinois Nursing Home Abuse

“Damages” are a legal term of art that generally refer to the compensation that one can receive after being harmed by another’s misconduct. When an Illinois nursing home resident is abused or mistreated, the senior or their family can recover damage by pursuing a civil lawsuit.

But what exact damages can be recovered? Most are familiar with the main forms of recovery, including medical bills or pain and suffering. One important form of recoverable damages in Illinois nursing homes is less well understood–recovery for grief, sorrow, and mental anguish of surviving family members.

Understanding the Law
It was not until 2007 that Illinois law was amended to specifically allow recovery for this suffering of survivors via changes to the state’s Wrongful Death Act. These damages are distinct in that they are awarded not to the senior who was mistreated but their next of kin. In the past, the law offered only very limited damages for survivors after their loved ones died as a result of abuse or neglect. Before 2007 only “pecuniary injuries” could be recovered, which means injuries with a direct monetary or economic value. In practical terms, this meant that family members could only recovery for theoretical benefits that they would have received were the individual still alive. Because seniors rarely still earned an income or provide critical household services, there were almost no pecuniary injuries to compensate.

Of course, by limiting damages in that context, the old law drastically missed a very real harm resulting from the misconduct–the grief, sorrow, and mental anguish of surviving family members.

These emotions are present any time that a family member passes away. But their strength may be particularly acute in cases of nursing home abuse, because the decision to place seniors into homes are often made by close relatives. Unfortunately, there is often an immense sense of guilt with which family members struggle. The amendment to the law allows families to recover for that suffering.

Proving Grief, Sorrow, & Mental Anguish
The specific evidence shown to prove the grief and sorrow experienced by a family may vary from case to case. However, in Illinois nursing home neglect deaths the matter will often be straightforward. After all, if a death is preventable, caused by negligence, and traumatic, then it is virtually assured that family members will suffer extensively. Research shows conclusively that grief is often magnified in cases of sudden death, particularly where elements of guilt may exist.

In fact, that general line of reasoning made its way into the only major court opinion to address the issue since the law was changed in 2007. Last year, in Hammond v. Sys. Transport, Inc., a federal district court noted that “just as a peaceful death may bring comfort to grieving loved ones, knowing that a loved one died in a violent death could understandably increase the resulting grief, sorrow and mental suffering.”

For a more detailed analysis of this issue, take a look at an article published at Leading Lawyers written by two of our neglect attorneys, Steven M. Levin and Cari F. Silverman.

Defrauding Uncle Sam and Disregarding Patients

A new buzzword in the headlines over recent months and years has been “whistleblower.” Whistleblowers have drawn attention to a variety of fraud, waste, abuse, and illegalities in both the private and public sectors. Most recently, a whistleblower has tried to expose an alleged episode of tremendous fraud in the nursing home sector. A former employee of a long-term care pharmacy called Omnicare filed a lawsuit against Omnicare under the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act is a law dating back to the Civil War that effectively deputizes private citizens as watchdogs of fraud and abuse that defrauds the United States government. It permits citizens to bring suit against a company, agency, institution or other entity for this fraud. In some cases the Department of Justice will get involved along with the plaintiff and take the reins, and in the event of a victory and recovery for the government, the plaintiff, otherwise known as a “relator” in the False Claims Act context, may be able to keep a share of that recovery.

Omnicare Lawsuit
The former employee filed suit against Omnicare claiming that one of the company’s top executives in Illinois instructed the Omnicare Foundation, which is a non-profit arm of the company, to pay off client nursing home owners in the form of charitable contributions. It is alleged that Omnicare used the non-profit wing to make these “donations” seem legitimate and not like kickbacks or bribes to the nursing homes. The alleged kickbacks were to ensure the nursing homes would refer patients/residents directly to Omnicare for pharmaceutical needs. Allegations also included that Omnicare gave out refunds and even illegal discounts. A judge recently ruled that the causes of action on these kickbacks may go forward in the lawsuit.

Interestingly, this does not appear to be the first time Omnicare engaged in such behavior. In 2009 the company paid a $98 million settlement over similar charges alleging it gave kickbacks to nursing homes as well as drug makers. In late 2013, the company settled for $120 million over kickbacks it gave through discounts to nursing homes for certain Medicare services. And just a few months ago, Omnicare paid $4.2 million over allegations of kickbacks it received from a drug manufacturer called Amgen in a scheme to lure Medicaid beneficiaries to use Amgen’s drug instead of a competitor’s drug. In each case, like the current one, it has been whistleblowers who have come forward to initiate these lawsuits.

The Prevalence of Nursing Home Fraud
Omnicare’s woes with the Justice Department is only an example of the expansive fraud that has gone on with nursing homes and affiliated companies that provide medication or other geriatric care or services to seniors living in nursing homes. The exchange of money, discounts, and favors between these entities violates kickback laws and further implicates fraud on the U.S. government where federal money is involved primarily through the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

While a pervasive problem has been the abuse of nursing home residents, either physically, sexually, mentally, emotionally, and/or financially – and this requires the utmost attention – so does the fraud committed by nursing homes and other companies for their own benefit. In committing these acts, they not only defraud the government, but they do not act in the best interests of the nursing home occupants, who should be their type priority.

Related Links:

Office of the Inspector General: Raise the Quality of Care in Our Nursing Homes

Hospice & False Medicare Claims

Tackling the Problem of Nursing Home Shell Companies

The purpose of nursing homes is to provide a safe and nurturing home for the elderly or otherwise incapacitated individuals. Residents or their families often pay handsome sums of money to nursing homes to take care of the residents – to ensure they eat well, sleep comfortably, and have opportunities to be active and engage in various activities if they wish on a daily basis. However, in some nursing homes residents suffer the opposite. Staffers or aids abuse the residents in some cases by not giving them food, keeping them immobile, and even physically or verbally abusing them, or even stealing their money. This is a mere generalization of the often unforgiveable acts that go on at some nursing homes, and the abuse can be varied and far worse. Nursing homes open themselves up to litigation, as they are responsible for the acts, or failures to act, of their staffers. This is through a principle known as “respondeat superior,” and a lawsuit can also be brought on the basis of negligent hiring of the wrongdoer. Nursing homes, however, have strategized in a unique way to avoid paying up. This has occurred in various states.

As explained on a website dedicated to long-term care and assisted living, operators of nursing homes essentially hide behind their legal entity status. A fairly common term seen in the news is “shell corporation.” A shell corporation exists where a legal entity is created for the purpose of conducting transactions, while the entity itself does not actually hold significant (or any) assets and essentially does not operate as a real company. It allows companies to avoid certain taxes or to prevent notable public association with certain transactions. Nursing homes have effectively adopted this same strategy. Nursing home operators set up shell entities that have the same benefit of avoiding certain taxes, and essentially keep assets away from these shells. In doing so, these owners hide behind an asset-less entity that could not pay a damages judgment or settlement amount. By being judgment proof, they essentially cover themselves from being sued. This also makes federal and state oversight more complicated as ownership resides in a shell entity.

Federal and State Fixes
At the federal level and in certain states, laws are here or on the way to combat nursing homes’ “duck and cover.” The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known colloquially as “Obamacare,” included within it the Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act. Its provisions are meant to improve the quality of care for residents of nursing homes that are recipients of federal dollars through Medicare and Medicaid programs. The law also provided for stronger oversight of nursing homes by both federal and state agencies. Particularly relevant to the issue of shell entities, nursing homes receiving federal dollars to disclose information about the ownership interests in the nursing home operators as well as who manages the homes’ operations. Additional required information involves finances, operations and overall governance. Certain states also have sought to encourage transparency, such as in Connecticut where a new bill in the legislature would require reporting on the finances of companies that do contract work, such as in rehabilitation services, with nursing homes.

By enforcing reporting by nursing home operators on their financial and operations relationships to other entities, the tangled web of entities that shield the operators from liability can be at least somewhat untangled and better known and understood by the government and the public. This will help bolster oversight and possibly pave the way for fixes to this problem.

Related Links:

Hospice & False Medicare Claims

A Jury of Your Peers?

Elder Abuse and Educating Caregivers

Helping Caregivers to Help the Elderly through Education

Old Guy

How can caregivers best spot patterns of elder abuse after their loved ones return from medical appointments or adult daycare?  And how should caregivers handle older adults who act abusively toward medical staff or other persons involved in their care and treatment?  According to a recent news report from Aging Today, a bimonthly newspaper published by the American Society on Aging, elderly caregivers in America aren’t provided with sufficient education about elder abuse.

The news report recently made it into the hands of Californians with the help of the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect.  The Center, housed at the University of California, Irvine, seeks to bridge the academic side of elder neglect with important issues of medical and legal practice.  In addition to conducting research, the Center aims to provide education to California residents and other community members by hosting the Elder Abuse Training Institute, which “identifies the most pressing training needs in elder mistreatment.”  The educational programs are interdisciplinary, moving among medical, sociological, and legal issues.

Caregivers Often Lack Key Information About Elder Care and Abuse

According to the news report, elderly caregivers need to be clearly educated about elder abuse.  The author of the report, Mary Twomey, begins with an analogy that most American adults can understand: after having a baby, new parents are provided with clear information about Shaken Baby Syndrome and how to recognize child abuse.  “Designed to alert new parents to the warning signs of child abuse,” Twomey explains, “the materials do not judge parents for the frustration or anger they feel when, say, their baby won’t stop crying.”  Instead, such materials simply “send a clear message that child abuse is unacceptable, explain its consequences, provide tips on how to handle [parents’] feelings and information on where to turn for help.”  However, elderly caregivers rarely—if ever—receive any kind of educational materials like these, and they’re desperately needed.

In particular, caregivers can become especially lost when caring for an older adult with a disability.  According to Twomey, these caregivers “will tell you no one has ever spoken to them about the warning signs of abuse and neglect.”  Indeed, none of the materials caregivers receive when they take their elderly loved ones to a medical appointment, including information about medications, drug interactions, etc., ever “tells them that one in 10 community-dwelling older Americans becomes a victim of abuse or neglect.”  And perhaps even more troubling is the fact that no routine services provide information about “how aggressive some care recipients can be toward those providing care.”

By failing to tackle these educational issues head-on, our society suggests that, unlike matters of childcare and child abuse, nursing home abuse and neglect isn’t safe to talk about and isn’t an urgent matter.  Yet this kind of dialogue is desperately needed.

According to a study conducted by the University of California, Irvine, we need to begin talking with caregivers about elder care and elder abuse, making clear the risk factors for abuse, and providing information about and access to resources for caregivers.  Without a sustained interest in educating elderly caregivers, Twomey suggests that California won’t be able to make noticeable progress toward quelling nursing home abuse and neglect.

If your elderly loved one has sustained injuries as a result of elder abuse, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer.  The injury attorneys at the Walton Law Firm can help.

See Related Blog Posts:

Reassignment of Los Angeles County Nursing Home Supervisor

Online Map to Track Elder Financial Abuse

Photo Credit: stevohv via Compfight cc

Elder Abuse and Educating Caregivers

Helping Caregivers to Help the Elderly through Education

Old Guy

How can caregivers best spot patterns of elder abuse after their loved ones return from medical appointments or adult daycare?  And how should caregivers handle older adults who act abusively toward medical staff or other persons involved in their care and treatment?  According to a recent news report from Aging Today, a bimonthly newspaper published by the American Society on Aging, elderly caregivers in America aren’t provided with sufficient education about elder abuse.

The news report recently made it into the hands of Californians with the help of the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect.  The Center, housed at the University of California, Irvine, seeks to bridge the academic side of elder neglect with important issues of medical and legal practice.  In addition to conducting research, the Center aims to provide education to California residents and other community members by hosting the Elder Abuse Training Institute, which “identifies the most pressing training needs in elder mistreatment.”  The educational programs are interdisciplinary, moving among medical, sociological, and legal issues.

Caregivers Often Lack Key Information About Elder Care and Abuse

According to the news report, elderly caregivers need to be clearly educated about elder abuse.  The author of the report, Mary Twomey, begins with an analogy that most American adults can understand: after having a baby, new parents are provided with clear information about Shaken Baby Syndrome and how to recognize child abuse.  “Designed to alert new parents to the warning signs of child abuse,” Twomey explains, “the materials do not judge parents for the frustration or anger they feel when, say, their baby won’t stop crying.”  Instead, such materials simply “send a clear message that child abuse is unacceptable, explain its consequences, provide tips on how to handle [parents’] feelings and information on where to turn for help.”  However, elderly caregivers rarely—if ever—receive any kind of educational materials like these, and they’re desperately needed.

In particular, caregivers can become especially lost when caring for an older adult with a disability.  According to Twomey, these caregivers “will tell you no one has ever spoken to them about the warning signs of abuse and neglect.”  Indeed, none of the materials caregivers receive when they take their elderly loved ones to a medical appointment, including information about medications, drug interactions, etc., ever “tells them that one in 10 community-dwelling older Americans becomes a victim of abuse or neglect.”  And perhaps even more troubling is the fact that no routine services provide information about “how aggressive some care recipients can be toward those providing care.”

By failing to tackle these educational issues head-on, our society suggests that, unlike matters of childcare and child abuse, nursing home abuse and neglect isn’t safe to talk about and isn’t an urgent matter.  Yet this kind of dialogue is desperately needed.

According to a study conducted by the University of California, Irvine, we need to begin talking with caregivers about elder care and elder abuse, making clear the risk factors for abuse, and providing information about and access to resources for caregivers.  Without a sustained interest in educating elderly caregivers, Twomey suggests that California won’t be able to make noticeable progress toward quelling nursing home abuse and neglect.

If your elderly loved one has sustained injuries as a result of elder abuse, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer.  The injury attorneys at the Walton Law Firm can help.

See Related Blog Posts:

Reassignment of Los Angeles County Nursing Home Supervisor

Online Map to Track Elder Financial Abuse

Photo Credit: stevohv via Compfight cc

Nursing Homes – Not the Only Source of Elder Abuse

Over the last decade, the cost of the provision of facility-based care has increased at a greater rate than that for home care. As a result, an aging American population in need of care is considering an array of lower cost home-based care options more than ever. What this also means, unfortunately, is that there is the possibility for an increase in elder abuse in the home-based care context.

Home-Care Options
Home Health Aide Services – Home health aides assist those who live in their own homes rather than nursing homes or residential care facilities. They are especially common in situations where family and friends lack the time and resources to provide the necessary extent of care.

Homemaker Services – This type of support allows for people to live in their homes by helping complete household tasks that they can no longer attend to alone. Cooking, cleaning, and running errands are typical of such services.

Adult Day Health Care – This type of home care typically provides social and other support services in a facility, but only for part of the day. Some adult day health care services also provide personal care, meals, transportation, medical management, social services, and activities.

Elder Abuse – Not Just Physical
Elder abuse occurs in many different ways, not just physical abuse. Emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect or abandonment by caregivers, financial exploitation, and healthcare fraud and abuse are problems as well. Intimidation or threats are common elements across the different forms of abuse, often leaving mental and emotional scars even when physical symptoms are lacking.

With physical elder abuse, it is relatively easy to spot symptoms. Strange bruises, welts, or scars, broken bones, and signs of being restrained, such as rope marks on wrists, are all indicators. When elder abuse is emotional, sexual, financial, or neglect-based, however, it can be more difficult to spot symptoms. With emotional abuse, for example, an abused elder might exhibit behavior that could be mistaken for dementia, such as rocking, sucking, or mumbling to oneself. Conversely, signs might be more outward and aggressive, such as the threatening, belittling, or attempting to control caregiver behavior.

Home Safeguards
Checks and balances are essential to preventing elder abuse in the home. Involving both neutral parties and family members in an older adult’s care will contribute to a clearer picture of the care that is being received. Also, look for common risk factors for elder abuse in the home. For example, substance abuse can diminish a caregiver’s ability to provide adequate care, as well as increasing the risk of financial abuse as the caregiver struggles to finance a substance abuse habit.

Nursing homes aren’t the only places where elders may be subject to abuse. With the cost of facility-based care increasing, many will choose the more affordable home care option. If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered home care elder abuse by a caregiver, you may have a claim. Please feel free to contact an experienced attorney at Levin & Perconti today.

Related Links:

Neglect Running Rampant in Alden Village North, a Chicago Nursing Home

Nursing Home Lawyers Discuss Study That Shows New Definitions for Malnutrition