Every day, numerous elderly Californians become victims of elder abuse and neglect in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Elder abuse continues to grow in the nursing homes throughout the nation and California is no exception.
In 2005, one-fifth of the nursing facilities in the state of California did not meet the requirements set forth by the state in reference to staffing levels.
The top five deficiencies at that time were:
- Food – 46%
- Quality care – 39%
- Incomplete records – 34%
- Loss of dignity/no respect – 30%
- Unnecessary medications – 30%
In 2011, sadly all of these deficiencies have increased:
- Food – 63%
- Quality care – 42%
- Incomplete records – 35%
- Loss of dignity/no respect – 33%
- Unnecessary medications – 31%
Over half of all nursing home complaints stem from poor quality of care. Almost 20 percent of the substantiated complaints were linked to abuse or mistreatment.
A projection by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2000 stated that the elderly population in California would double by 2025 to approximately 6.4 million. This rate of growth is larger than is expected in any other state.
These projections and statistics illustrate the critical need to address and cure the poor quality of care being seen in numerous skilled nursing facilities in California.
Nursing Home Abuse Signs
- Frequent falls
- Unexplained injuries
- Broken bones
Physical abuse may include:
- Striking an individual with/without an object
- Sexual abuse
- Physical restraints
- Inappropriate use of drugs
- Physical punishment of any kind
Sexual abuse can be defined as a non-consensual sexual act of any kind. Sexual contact with an individual who is incapable of giving his/her consent is also considered as sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse includes:
- Unwanted touching
- Coerced nudity
- Sexual assault or battery
- Sexually explicit photographing
Psychological or emotional abuse is described as the infliction of pain, anguish or distress through nonverbal or verbal acts.
Psychological/Emotional abuse includes:
- Verbal assaults
- Isolation from friends, family and regular activities
- Treating an elderly person like an infant
- Shunning him/her (silent treatment)
Prosecuting Elder Abuse
Three programs have been designed to increase the accountability of those who neglect and abuse the elderly population in California.
The Facilities Enforcement Team
This team is responsible for investigating and prosecuting corporate entities for adopting the policies or promoting practices leading to poor quality of care and/or neglect of its patients.
These entities include:
- Skilled nursing homes
- Residential care facilities
Substandard care or institutional neglect includes the failure to:
- Attend the patient’s hygiene concerns
- Provide the patient with the medical care he needs for his physical and/or mental health needs
- Prevent dehydration and malnutrition
- Provide adequate staffing to give patients the quality of care they deserve
- Accurately document patient charts
Violent Crimes Unit
This unit is responsible for investigating and prosecuting physical elder abuse that is committed by individual staff members against patients residing within elder care facilities.
These crimes include:
- False imprisonment
The primary goal of this program is to assist in protecting and improving the quality of care for the elderly and dependent adult residents that reside in the over 1,300 skilled nursing facilities throughout California.
The Operation Guardians team concentrates on identifying instances of neglect or abuse for further investigation. Should evidence of neglect or abuse be found, possible civil or criminal prosecution may be pursued via the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse.
No one knows exactly why abuse occurs or how to eliminate it. That is why it is vital that concerned people like you help your loved one. Your help may mean that he/she receives the compensation and peaceful life he/she deserves. By helping your loved one, you inadvertently help the rest of the victims at his/her facility.
If you or a loved one has experienced elder abuse or neglect at a nursing home, hospital or assisted living facility, you might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. If the abuse your loved one experienced led to his/her death, you may be able to file a wrongful death suit. Because laws related to Elder abuse are complex and change frequently, you need an experienced attorney. Contact Appel Law Firm LLP in Walnut Creek, California, one of our experienced nursing home negligence attorneys can help you obtain the compensation you or your loved one deserves.