Putting a member of your family in a nursing home is one of the toughest decisions you can make. Finding a good nursing home can be a daunting task, and most people don’t know how to go about asking the right questions. Even if you do all your research, you may still end up with a care facility that is subpar.
Many Illinois nursing home patients are victims of abuse and neglect. Elderly abuse is very traumatic for the victims and their families.
The increased awareness of abuse in nursing homes inspired our attorney to represent victims in Evanston. According to advocacy group research, people who are abused in nursing homes are 300 times more likely to die.
What Are Common Nursing Home Injuries?
Common nursing home injuries include:
- Broken bones
- And head injuries
In spite of the fact that there are plenty of laws protecting abuse victims, Illinois ranked 42nd in the country for compliance with those laws. Many victims of elderly abuse end up with severe impairments.
This can mean they have trouble doing simple things like:
- And grocery shopping
Victims of elderly abuse often are too frightened to report the abuse to anyone. The patients live with their abusers and are completely at their mercy. They are often afraid to reach out to family members about the abuse for fear the family members will complain and the abusive employees will retaliate.
Illinois Nursing Home Laws
The general public first became aware of nursing home patient abuse in the 1970’s, but it wasn’t until 1987 that the “Nursing Home Reform Act” was passed. It began with the United States Congress requesting that the Institute of Medicine conduct a study of nursing homes that accepted Medicare and Medicaid.
The study showed that there was an enormous amount of abuse in nursing homes in the country. The reforms were part of a larger act called, “The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987,” which requires nurses aides to undergo 75 hours of training and pass competency evaluations. The act also required a registry for nurse’s aides.
What Is “The Nursing Home Reform Act”?
“The Nursing Home Reform Act” requires nursing homes to provide their residents with privacy and the ability to communicate with the staff and the outside world. They must not be mistreated or neglected, and they are supposed to be able to exercise self-determination.
The act also requires that accommodations be made for their mental and psychosocial needs. A walk through the average nursing home will reveal that the facilities have fallen short of the act’s requirements.
Reasons for Nursing Home Neglect
In spite of the fact that nursing homes take in millions of dollars a year, the average salary for a nurse’s aid in Illinois is around $29,000 to $35,000 a year. The odd hours and low pay have left many nursing homes short staffed. Short staffing often means that the workers cannot give patients as much attention as they need and, as a result, the patients are left in jeopardy.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
The most common type of abuse people in nursing homes face is negligence. For example, if a person is on anticoagulant drugs and they are overdosed or do not have their vital signs monitored constantly, they may have serious side effects.
If a patient is bedridden and a healthcare worker does not move them every two (2) hours, they may develop bed sores or ulcers, which can lead to amputation of limbs or even death. Malnutrition and dehydration are also common problems for people in nursing homes.
When nursing homes are understaffed, patients often have to wait a long time for food or water. Some nursing homes may serve food that is high in fat and ignore dietary requirements.
Falling is the leading cause of death in nursing homes.
Falls can lead to:
- Brain injury
- Broken bones
- And paralysis in nursing home patients
Falls are caused by poorly maintained facilities as well as the negligence of employees, who are unable or unwilling to walk patients to the bathroom, or around the grounds.
Patients with dementia will often wander off if they are not carefully monitored, they also may wander off the grounds of the nursing home. Obviously, this is very dangerous and may result in injury or death.
Sexual assault and other forms of physically violent abuse are very common in nursing homes. Although they are required to do background checks, people with histories of violent behavior manage to get jobs in healthcare.
It is important to ask lots of questions when you first bring a loved one to a nursing home. Let the intake specialist know that you are familiar with nursing home abuse law and that you will be monitoring the situation carefully.