New Report: Beware of Forced Arbitration Dangers

Attorneys working with families whose loved ones were harmed by inadequate care in nursing homes have long warned about the dangers of mandatory arbitration agreements. Buried in admission documents, often presented to families in the midst of emergency, these “agreements” usually prevent families from using the traditional civil justice system to protect their rights. The bottom line: These clauses should be avoided like the plague if at all possible.

The American Association for Justice recently released a new report that provides significant context to understand how these arbitration clauses arise and who benefits.

In the Interest of Big Business
As the report notes, the general purpose of arbitration clauses is to insulate big businesses from accountability. Summarizing the situation, the AAJ report explains that “forced arbitration eliminates all of the checks and balances of the civil justice system, including the right to a public forum, the right to demand information from a corporation, the right to a written record, and, most importantly, the right to trial by jury.”

In most cases, these forced arbitration clauses are written as broad as possible. This allows them to be applied no matter what the harm, from abuse to neglect and everything in between. Functionally, they act as a barrier to the court. As soon as possible, defense attorneys in these cases will assert that the clause must be upheld and get judges to force a case into arbitration, where the structure is stacked heavily against the consumer.

Secret Agreements
One particularly invidious aspect of these agreements is the way that so many consumers find themselves bound. In nursing homes, as already mentioned, they usually take the form of one piece of paper in the middle of a stack that families rarely pay attention to. In other contexts the process is even more secretive. Often, simply opening a box or accepting a package binds the purchaser to arbitration in the event of dispute. Most members of the public remain completely unaware of the way these clauses are taking away their rights. It is only in the event of problems that they learn of the situation. By then it is often too late.

The Politics
How are companies able to get away with this? The main answer is that they are operating in silence. Along similar lines, many businesses have fought for different “tort reform” causes to minimize their liability, including damage caps. However, that issue has gained national prominence and companies have been forced to defend the indefensible.

Alternatively, pushing forced arbitration clauses has gone under the radar, and so the damage is being done in many industries without much public oversight. Sadly, the “success” of these clauses has a similar effect to other more well-known tort reform efforts–taking away consumer rights and insulating businesses from accountability.

Legal Help
If you have questions about an arbitration agreement or want ot know if these issues affect your loved one who was hurt by inadequate nursing home care, please contact our attorneys today to see how we can help.

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New Ally in Arbitration Disputes: Small Businesses

State Supreme Court Mandates Arbitration in Nursing Home Death Case

Overmedication of the Elderly: Restraint without Straps

In nursing homes all over the country, the elderly are being restrained from moving freely. Often there are legitimate reasons to restrain someone, like if they pose a risk to the safety of themselves or others. However, physical restraints on residents of a nursing home are used only when necessary, and for good reason. For one thing, using physical restraint for discipline or convenience is a violation of federal and Illinois law. Another reason is the appearance physical restraint takes. Physical restraint is often accomplished using straps, confining the nursing home resident to a bed or chair. The behavior of a resident restrained against their will can be unsightly and disturbing.

Contrast this with chemical restraint. Chemical restraint is the use of drugs to restrict the movement of a nursing home resident. The desired result of chemical restraint is the same as that of physical restraint: prevent the resident from moving. However, chemical restraint is dangerous for reasons that physical restraint is not.

Invisible Straps
When physically restraining a resident, the restraint is apparent to anyone nearby. One can see the resident straining against the straps, or hear the resident complaining of the restraint. However, when a resident is chemically restrained, there is no movement or vocalization. There is often just sleep. If there is no sleep, the resident lives in a drug-induced stupor that, while convenient for the nursing home employees, is harmful and in violation of the resident’s human rights.

Drugs: Use and Abuse
Another reason chemical restraint has become the problem it has is the insidious way it can become a part of a nursing home’s modus operandi. Under Illinois law, chemical restraints are not to be used at all unless authorized by a doctor, nor can medication be administered to a resident unless agreed to by the resident or the resident’s legal representative. However, it is simple for a nursing home employee to increase the dosage to a patient who already takes the drug. It is even simpler to fail to reduce the dosage when the symptoms the drug treats have become less frequent. In 2013, four different Illinois nursing homes were cited by the Department of Health and Human Services for failing to maintain the drug regimens of residents for their maximum well-being. (See the reports here, here, here, and here.)

Why It Matters
Consumers need to be aware of the dangers inherent in improper administration of drugs to the elderly in nursing homes. Apart from the obvious human rights and legal violations, unauthorized chemical restraint can be hazardous to the health of the resident.

According to the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, drugs used for chemical restraint (specifically antipsychotics) can increase confusion, decrease cognitive function, and create a situation where injury is more likely to occur. They also create a stupor in the resident, perhaps preventing communication of a serious problem to the employee of the nursing facility.

Medications are also expensive. The cost of those medications is often passed on to the consumer and, through Medicare and Medicaid, to the taxpayer. By preventing the misuse of chemical restraint, billions of dollars can be saved.

What You Can Do
If you believe that you or someone you know has been the victim of improper use of chemical restraint, contact an attorney to discuss your legal options.

See our Related Blog Posts:

Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Nursing Home

Levin & Perconti Secure Successful Verdict in Illinois Nursing Home Neglect Case

New California Home Care Protections

Have you considered elder in-home health care for one of your parents? Many families see the benefits of these in-home services, but they worry about the level of care that these agencies provide. Earlier this month, we told you about the important distinctions between in-home health care and home care—in short, the former provides medical services, while the latter simply acts as a non-medical caregiver and companion. If you hire a home care provider, you shouldn’t have to worry about elder abuse and neglect because of lackluster licensing laws.

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Many states have been tightening their oversight of home care agencies over the past several years, due to a general sense of inadequacy in the services provided by these companies. And now, California has joined that group. According to an article in the New York Times, “California has become the latest state to tighten oversight of home agencies that provide custodial care—help with bathing, dressing, toileting and other basic tasks—to older adults and people with disabilities.”

Are you concerned that your elderly loved one has been mistreated by a caregiver? Whether you’re dealing with an in-home agency or the services of a nursing home or assisted-living facility, the experienced California nursing home abuse lawyers at the Walton Law Firm today to discuss your case.

The Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act of 2013—Key Details

On October 13, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act of 2013. What changes will California see with the Act? The New York Times lays out the relevant changes that will come with the new law: it “will require agencies to conduct background checks on workers, provide five hours of training, list aides in an online registry and obtain a license certifying their compliance with basic standards.” In short, the bill requires more background checks and screenings. The registry mentioned is one of the more significant aspects— run by the California Department of Social Services, it will “allow consumers to verify that the caregiver working in their home has passed a background check.” In other words, the bill not only seeks to ensure that caregivers are up to snuff, but it also seeks to empower consumers.

Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal of Long Beach initially proposed the bill, emphasizing that it was “about public safety, plain and simple.” Lowenthal explained how “we place a lot of trust in caregivers,” and her bill, AB 1217, “ensures that they’ve earned that trust.” Before Governor Brown signed the bull, any agency that provided skilled nursing services had to be licensed and had to complete certain training and background checks by law. But, this only applied to in-home health services—those providing only the custodial home care services didn’t have to meet any of these requirements unless they were publicly funded. According to Lowenthal, at the time she proposed the bill, “approximately 1,200 privately funded home care organizations operate[d] in California with nothing more than a business license.”

Support for and Opposition to the Bill

For the Congress of California Seniors, the bill represents an important step in the right direction. The Congress supported the bill every step of the way, along with other consumer advocacy and public safety groups, such as the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, AARP, SEIU, and the California Commission on Aging. Gary Passmore, the Executive Director of the Congress of California Seniors, emphasized the importance of AB 1217: “As California’s population ages and home care services are in even greater demand, it’s essential that we have the protections of AB 1217 in place.”

However, most home care agencies have vehemently opposed the bill. According to Dean Chalios, the president of the California Association for Health Services at home, home care agencies “have no quibble with licensing and certification requirements,” but they “think that ensuring the competency of workers should be voluntary and their responsibility, not the state’s.”

Home care agencies will have to abide by the requirements of AB 1217 or face significant fines. If you have questions about the impact of the new bill, or if you’re concerned about nursing home abuse and neglect, don’t hesitate to contact the California elder law attorneys at the Walton Law Firm.

See Related Blog Posts:

Elder Care at Home

Upsides of California Assisted Living Care

Abuse of Residents with Dementia Continues

All nursing home residents are at risk of having their vulnerabilities exploited. If an individual did not have some mental or physical ailments, then they would not be in the facility to begin with. However, that is not to say that all nursing home residents are alike or face the same risks. There is much diversity within homes. Some seniors have relatively fewer challenges, often able to do most things on their own. At the other end of the spectrum there are seniors who are virtually bedridden, unable to perform anything without assistance.

Obviously, those with more severe challenges can more readily be neglected or abused. Residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s also fall into that category. Those with cognitive problems do not necessarily have immediate physical challenges, but their memory issues can cause confusion–sometimes leading to combativeness, wandering, and more. As a result, these residents may be harder for caregivers to manage, requiring more specialized support.

Unfortunately, the increased “challenge” of providing proper support for this group of residents leads to increase risk of abuse and mistreatment. Instead of doing what needs to be done, far too many caregivers resort to neglect and horrendous conduct when dealing with these seniors

Recent Examples
A glance at recent news stories on the topic offers some sad examples of this abuse. For example, a local FOX News report shared information on the arrest of a former caregiver this month. The man was arrested for an incident that happened this summer and was witnessed by a colleague. According to the story, the man physically forced a washcloth into the mouth of a 90-year old dementia resident. Then, while another employee held her arms back, the senior was doused with cold water in a shower. According to documents filed by authorities, the caregiver allegedly told the senior, “You need your mouth washed out.”

As discussed in a separate NBC story this week, another former nursing home caregiver was found guilty of abusing a senior in a criminal trial. The woman was a certified nursing assistant at the long-term care facility and worked with seniors with dementia. The story explains that for some reason she placed a trash bag over one senior with dementia as she sat in her wheelchair.

In acknowledging the verdict, the state’s attorney general explained, “We have a special obligation to look out for the most vulnerable members of our community, including residents of nursing homes and patients in health care facilities who often can’t speak up and speak out,”

Speak Up
No one can say for certain what leads caregivers to physically abuse residents with dementia. Perhaps some get a perverse pleasure out of exercising extreme control over another. Or maybe the caregiver has personal challenges that they take out on those at the home. No matter what the case, there is simply zero excuse for engaging in this behavior. Exploitation of the most vulnerable among us must be stamped out at all times. If you suspect elder abuse or mistreatment, please do not stay silent. Give our attorneys a call a see how we can help.

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Celebrate Nursing Home Residents’ Rights Month

Elder Guardianship Abuse

Tour Guide Accused of Bilking Seniors Out of Money

In honor of Resident’s Rights Month it is worth emphasizing the scope of mistreatment that affects seniors. Of course, attorneys at our firm work every day on behalf of nursing home residents who are hurt in falls, develop bed sores, and harmed in a myriad of other common ways. The root of all of this harm is vulnerability and the exploitation by those in positions of power or influence.

Of course taking advantage of elderly individuals is not perpetrated only by those working in the long-term care field. The exploitation can affect anyone, making it critical for trusted friends and family members to remain vigilant about the many ways that seniors can be mistreated and abused.

Tour Bus Scam
We often point out that financial scammers see seniors as a prime target, specifically because of their vulnerability. Even those who do not set out specifically to scam seniors may find themselves bilking them when convenient.

For example, the Merced Sun-Star reported last week on felony criminal charges filed against a former tour company owner after she apparently took thousands of dollars from seniors who purchased bus tours that never took place. According to prosecutors in the area, the tour guide is accused of taking more than $14,500 from about 30 local residents, mostly seniors. The story notes that many of the victims were members of a senior citizen clubs and the Red Hat Ladies.

Apparently, over a two month period, the seniors paid the tour guide for various trips, including one to a local horse racing facility and another to a casino. In one case, even though their ticket was supposed to include admission to the facility, their entrance was never paid–they had to pay out of pocket for the ticket. In another case, a bus trip was cancelled because the bus was claimed to have broken down. Yet, rescheduling never took place the seniors never received a refund.

All told, the guide now faces over two dozen misdemeanor counts of “theft from a senior or dependent adult.” This criminal charge specifically carves out financial exploitation of a senior as a unique harm. On top of that, she faces an additional five felony charges for her conduct. An arraignment date has yet to be set, but the potential consequences are steep–up to five years in jail.

Financial Exploitation
It is easy to brush off these types of incidents as less important than exploitation that causes physical harm. But there is often a interconnectivity between financial harm and physical, mental, and emotional damage for a senior. Many seniors have lost thousands of dollars, forcing them to sell a home or receive less than quality care from “bargain” caregivers. The consequences of such exploitation can destroy a senior’s health and well-being.

For this reason, preventing elder abuse must be viewed holistically–preventing mistreatment in all its forms and all settings. There is no excuse for using a senior’s real or perceived vulnerability against them–even in that means charging them more for services or failing to provide a refund.

If you suspect elder abuse; do not stay silent. Contact our attorneys today to see how we can help.

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Celebrate Nursing Home Residents’ Rights Month

Elder Guardianship Abuse

Spreading the Word on Bed Rail Dangers

Last week the Star-Telegram released a helpful new article that reiterates the potential danger of bed rails.

Bed Rail Deaths
The article points to several different incidents to hammer home the point that real lives are lost because of these products. For example, the story of an 81-year old woman was shared. Suffering from dementia, her family had rails installed on her bed under the assumption that they were keeping her safe. However, only a few weeks after adding them, the senior’s neck became caught in the rails. She was not found in time, and she suffocated to death.

As blog readers know, these sorts of accident strike frequently. The article explains how “thousands of frail, confused or elderly people have been injured and hundreds killed after becoming trapped in safety rails installed to keep them from falling out of bed.”

The best reports suggest that in recent years over 37,000 people have been hospitalized as a result of bed rail accidents with hundreds more killed as a result. Reports made to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggest that of the hundreds who die in these accidents, the vast majority are frail elderly community members. Individuals suffering from cognitive challenges, like dementia and Alzheimer’s are particularly at risk. These seniors are often confused about their surrounding and unable to efficiently communicate with caregivers when they are in danger.

Our elder neglect attorney Steve Levin was interviewed for the story. He explained, ““It’s a horrible, tragic, painful, scary way to die, and it’s just so unnecessary,” Steve went on to point out that it requires vigilance on the part of family members to ensure there is accountability for these accidents in the senior home setting, explaining, “If an elderly resident dies in bed it would not be difficult for a nursing home to attribute the cause of death to whatever medical conditions brought them to the nursing home,”

Particularly disturbing is the fact that, even though the dangers have been known for years, next to nothing has been done by policymakers to prevent future harm. One bed rail safety advocate confessed, “That is amazing to me that you can have a product in a medical supply store and no one has verified is this safe.’

Raising Awareness
For those of us who work daily on elder abuse and neglect issues, discussing the harm faced by seniors as a result of bed rails is beating a dead horse. Everyone knows about these dangers, right? Think again. Many community members remain uninformed about the problem. That is why each of these news stories is a positive step, slowly leading more and more residents to support policy changes. Eventually we can reach the point where no one, from children to seniors, are hurt or killed as a result of these dangerous products.

If you or someone you know was harmed by a bed rail, please get in touch with our injury lawyers today to see how we can help. Negligence is often at the root of these incidents, particularly when the injured person was in a hospital or nursing home at the time.

See Other Blog Posts:

Consumer Voice Testimony on Bed Rail Safety

Dangerous Bed Rails: Is a Complete Ban Necessary?

Reminder: October is Residents’ Rights Month. Speak Out Against Elder Abuse!

Believe it or not, we are already nearing the halfway mark for the month of October. Children are planning their Halloween costumes, pumpkin patch visits are popular weekend activities, and warm apple cider is being consumed by the gallon.

As always, however, October is also a month to take some time to help raise awareness of the need for proper treatment of our seniors. As we noted earlier, October is officially known as Residents’ Right Month. The theme of the event this year is all focused on breaking the silence that surrounds so much mistreatment of seniors: “Speak Out Against Elder Abuse.”

Elder Abuse: The Facts
One important part of the month-long advocacy effort is the sharing of basic information about elder abuse. It is a worldwide problem. As a helpful fact sheet created by the Consumer Voice explains, it is only relatively recently that the mistreatment of seniors has made headlines. It has long been a hidden and ignored problem.

Considering the grow of the senior community, the need for universal commitment to eradicating elder abuse is more critical now than ever. Estimates suggest that the global senior population (60 years or older) will reach 1.2 billion by 2025. That will mark a doubling in size of the community in only three decades.

With those raw figures in mind, consider that the best estimates so far suggest that upwards of 6% of the entire community are abused in their own home. Even more critically, well over one-third of all nursing home staff member report witnessing instances of physical abuse in the facility. Another 40% of caregivers report instances of psychological abuse. As the face sheet explained, this abuse may include “physically restraining patients, depriving them of dignity and choice over daily affairs, and providing insufficient care (for example, allowing them to develop bed sores).”

Elder abuse is clearly a widespread problem. But for efficiency’s sake, it is important to identify the risk factors that may make certain seniors more susceptible to harm. For those at home, long-running family feuding, dependence on a single caregiver, and isolation are all warning signs. At senior facilities, those residents with cognitive ailments (i.e. dementia) and those from lower socioeconomic classes in poorer neighborhoods are frequently more at risk of being mistreated and suffering preventable harm.

On the nursing home front, it is helpful to investigate the quality of services at each facility. Institutions with lower staffing levels, fewer nurses, and more past citations are far and away more likely to provide negligent care that harms seniors. In fact, one of the key reasons that so much emphasis is placed on speaking out when you spot problems is that many facility owners and operators only enact changes which improve care (like hiring more staff), when they are forced to via legal accountability.

Speak Out
Do you know of mistreatment of a senior at a nursing home or assisted living facility in Illinois? If so, contact our law firm today to see how we can help. We have worked for decades ensuring that care facilities are held accountable for their treatment of residents.

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Celebrate Nursing Home Residents’ Rights Month

Elder Guardianship Abuse

Nursing Home Abuse As a “Crime Against Humanity”

October is Residents’ Rights Month. The Consumer Voice, an important elder advocacy group, explains that this years theme is “Speak Out Against Elder Abuse.” It is worth repeating that much more abuse takes place than is ever reported. Far too many seniors suffer in silence. We must all speak up every single time that we suspect mistreatment. It is only then that accountability will be had in many cases and those in positions of power will take real steps to minimize the risk of abuse before it happens, instead of merely reacting to each individual case.

Speaking Out for Neglected Seniors
In honor of the this month’s awareness campaign, we’d like to highlight one advocate who does not pull any punches when it comes to speaking up against inadequate care. Recently, Jan Scherrer, a member of Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform published a powerful editorial in the Lexington Herald-Leader. Scherrer is a speech pathologist, having formerly work in geriatric and nursing home care settings.

The editorial mentions real-life scenarios that play out every day across the country, from seniors who are slapped because they are difficult to dress (through no fault of their own) to having objects shoved into their mouths if they say things that a caregiver finds annoying. Every day seniors go hungry because they need help getting food out of their tray but there are not enough caregivers to provide that aid.

It was noted how much actual support in long-term care facilities are provided by “overworked and underpaid caregivers who’ve been known to relieve their own despair by withholding [...] pain medication and taking it themselves.”

Of course, not all (or even most) blame need be directed at front-line care workers. The owners and operators of these facilities are the ones who decide staffing issues, compensation levels, training, the availability of resources and more. Yet, far too often these individuals are focused on one thing: profit. Often owned by large investment groups with little personal regard for resident well-being, the “business’ side of long-term care facilities frequently lead to little regard for quality.

In discussing the interconnected nature of so many legal and legislative affairs, the editorial explains how “corporations [that own nursing homes] respond to wrongful death lawsuits, not with lessons learned and corporate mandates to improve care, but with tort reform, introduced and passed into law by unscrupulous and recompensed lawmakers.”

That is an issue on which our elder neglect attorneys frequently discuss. We have worked with families for decades to hold these facilities accountable for their conduct. Yet, at the same time, these big interests groups pursue every avenue available in an attempt to make it harder for them to be held responsible for their actions and take steps to prevent future mistreatment.

It is important to point out that the vast majority of nursing home care is paid for out of public funds–via the Medicare and Medicaid programs. That means that all of us are the ones footing the bill. Beyond the human element of demanding adequate care for all vulnerable seniors, there is a financial element: we deserve quality services when we pay for it.

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Celebrate Nursing Home Residents’ Rights Month!

Elder Care at Home

Do you have an elderly parent or loved one who worries about leaving home to live in a nursing home or assisted-living facility? According to a 2010 study conducted by AARP, nearly 90 percent of elderly adults hoped they’d be able to “age in place,” meaning that wanted to stay in their own homes and live independently, despite the complications that decreasing health and aging bring. In addition, in-home care may provide family members with more access to their loved ones, allowing them to keep an eye out for elder abuse or neglect.

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A recent article in U-T San Diego reported that many seniors are able to remain in their homes, even when they require specialized care. Indeed, according to the U-T San Diego article, in-home health care can actually “serve as a less expensive and more personalized alternative to residential care facilities for seniors.”

What is In-Home Health Care, Exactly?

Many families wonder what’s actually involved in home health care solutions for their elderly parents and loved ones. According to Timothy J. Colling, the vice president of an in-home care company in San Marcos, “true home health care involves the administration of medical services by trained healthcare professionals.” Under certain legal provisions, Colling explained, “home health care is a term that is reserved in the law for the provision of medical services in a home setting.” In short, “home health care” provides different services than “home care.”

So, what’s the difference? Home health care often involves procedures that must involve a nurse, physician, or physical therapist. These procedures are often physically invasive or “technically tricky, like changing a sterile wound,” Colling said. At the same time home health care can also refer to less invasive services, such as “observation and assessment, pain management, speech therapy, dietary education and management, and psychiatric care.” In other words, home health care involves medical professionals who provide medical care or treatment to patients.

Differently, “home care” doesn’t necessarily involve medical care or treatment. Rather, it involves a caregiver who helps the elderly client with activities of daily living, often known as “ADLs” in the elder care community. In other words, persons providing home care—rather than home health care—serve “as more of a companion than an in-home nurse,” according to U-T San Diego. Home care providers often don’t have the same medical training as a home health care worker.

According to Lisa Marsolais, community relations specialist for Avalon Home Care, home caregivers are “really like a second part of the family.” They undertake a number of duties, including “anything from personal care—toileting, bathing, grooming, things of that nature, things that you and I can do for ourselves—to errands, meal preparation, meal planning, grocery shopping, and even going to doctors visits and taking notes for the family,” Marsolais told U-T San Diego.

Costs of Home Care

According to many home care advocates, the cost of home care—not home health care, necessarily—is a lot less expensive in the long run than the price of a nursing home or assisted-living facility. At the same time, however, not all of these home care options are covered by insurance, including Medicare and Medi-Cal. In short, medically necessary services may be covered (and these usually fall into the category of home health care), but services that are geared more toward companionship (typically meaning home care) aren’t likely to be covered by private or government insurance.

How can seniors afford to pay for home care? Plans may need to start early. For many of these services, long-term care insurance may be one of the only guaranteed ways to pay for home care.

If you have questions about in-home services, or if you’re concerned that your elderly loved one has been subject to abuse or neglect by a healthcare provider, it’s important to speak to an experienced elder justice advocate as soon as possible. The dedicated attorneys at the Walton Law Firm can discuss your case with you today.

See Related Blog Posts:

Upsides of California Assisted Living Care

System Failures in San Diego County Assisted Living Facilities

Elder Care at Home

Do you have an elderly parent or loved one who worries about leaving home to live in a nursing home or assisted-living facility? According to a 2010 study conducted by AARP, nearly 90 percent of elderly adults hoped they’d be able to “age in place,” meaning that wanted to stay in their own homes and live independently, despite the complications that decreasing health and aging bring. In addition, in-home care may provide family members with more access to their loved ones, allowing them to keep an eye out for elder abuse or neglect.

Home.jpg

A recent article in U-T San Diego reported that many seniors are able to remain in their homes, even when they require specialized care. Indeed, according to the U-T San Diego article, in-home health care can actually “serve as a less expensive and more personalized alternative to residential care facilities for seniors.”

What is In-Home Health Care, Exactly?

Many families wonder what’s actually involved in home health care solutions for their elderly parents and loved ones. According to Timothy J. Colling, the vice president of an in-home care company in San Marcos, “true home health care involves the administration of medical services by trained healthcare professionals.” Under certain legal provisions, Colling explained, “home health care is a term that is reserved in the law for the provision of medical services in a home setting.” In short, “home health care” provides different services than “home care.”

So, what’s the difference? Home health care often involves procedures that must involve a nurse, physician, or physical therapist. These procedures are often physically invasive or “technically tricky, like changing a sterile wound,” Colling said. At the same time home health care can also refer to less invasive services, such as “observation and assessment, pain management, speech therapy, dietary education and management, and psychiatric care.” In other words, home health care involves medical professionals who provide medical care or treatment to patients.

Differently, “home care” doesn’t necessarily involve medical care or treatment. Rather, it involves a caregiver who helps the elderly client with activities of daily living, often known as “ADLs” in the elder care community. In other words, persons providing home care—rather than home health care—serve “as more of a companion than an in-home nurse,” according to U-T San Diego. Home care providers often don’t have the same medical training as a home health care worker.

According to Lisa Marsolais, community relations specialist for Avalon Home Care, home caregivers are “really like a second part of the family.” They undertake a number of duties, including “anything from personal care—toileting, bathing, grooming, things of that nature, things that you and I can do for ourselves—to errands, meal preparation, meal planning, grocery shopping, and even going to doctors visits and taking notes for the family,” Marsolais told U-T San Diego.

Costs of Home Care

According to many home care advocates, the cost of home care—not home health care, necessarily—is a lot less expensive in the long run than the price of a nursing home or assisted-living facility. At the same time, however, not all of these home care options are covered by insurance, including Medicare and Medi-Cal. In short, medically necessary services may be covered (and these usually fall into the category of home health care), but services that are geared more toward companionship (typically meaning home care) aren’t likely to be covered by private or government insurance.

How can seniors afford to pay for home care? Plans may need to start early. For many of these services, long-term care insurance may be one of the only guaranteed ways to pay for home care.

If you have questions about in-home services, or if you’re concerned that your elderly loved one has been subject to abuse or neglect by a healthcare provider, it’s important to speak to an experienced elder justice advocate as soon as possible. The dedicated attorneys at the Walton Law Firm can discuss your case with you today.

See Related Blog Posts:

Upsides of California Assisted Living Care

System Failures in San Diego County Assisted Living Facilities