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Nursing Home Abuse

With over 1. 5 million elderly and dependent adults now living in nursing homes throughout the country, abuse and neglect has become a widespread problem. Even though some nursing homes provide good care, many are subjecting helpless residents to needless suffering and death. Most residents in nursing homes are dependent on the staff for most or all their needs such as food, water, medicine, toileting, grooming- almost all their daily care. Unfortunately, many residents in nursing homes today are starved, dehydrated, over-medicated, and suffer painful pressure sores.

They are often isolated, ignored and deprived of social contact and stimulation. Because of insufficient and poorly trained staff commonly found in nursing homes. Care givers are often overworked and grossly underpaid that often results in rude and abusive behavior to vulnerable residents who beg them for simple needs such as water or to be taken to the bathroom. Federal and State laws require that nursing homes develop a plan of care and employ sufficient staffing to provide all the care listed on the care plan.

Most corporate owned nursing homes today are not sufficiently staffed, and they can not provide all the care listed on the care plan. Consequently, residents are not taken to the toilet when necessary; theyre often left lying in urine and feces. They also develop painful and life-threatening decubitus ulcers, and are not fed properly, theyre not given sufficient fluids. They are also over-medicated or under-medicated, and dropped causing painful bruises and fractures, are ignored and not included in activities, are left in bed all day, call lights not answered.

These are all forms of negligence, performed daily in nursing homes. Nursing homes who receive federal funds are required to comply with federal laws that specify that residents receive a high quality of care. In 1987 Congress responded to reports of widespread neglect and abuse in nursing homes during 1980s, which enacted legislation to reform nursing home regulations and require nursing homes participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs to comply with certain requirements for quality of care.

The legislation, included in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, which specifies that a nursing home must provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care. ” To participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, nursing homes must be in compliance with the federal requirements for long term care as prescribed in the U. S. Code of Federal Regulations (42 CFR Part 483).

In addition to federal laws regulating the quality of care in nursing homes, states have enacted laws as well. The state laws must be at least as stringent at the federal laws. Some states have adopted laws that are tougher than the federal laws. In Iowa, nursing home care and services are regulated under Title 22 of the Iowa Code of Regulations. There are three different types of Nursing Homes. A Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) is a facility that is required to provide continuous (24-hour) nursing supervision by registered or licensed vocational nurses.

Commonly referred to as “nursing homes” or “convalescent hospitals,” these facilities normally care for the incapacitated person in need of long or short-term care and assistance with many aspects of daily living (walking, bathing, dressing, and eating). At a minimum, SNF’s provide medical, nursing, dietary, pharmacy, and activity services. An Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) is a facility that is required to provide 8 hours of nursing supervision per day. Because of their physical appearance, these facilities are often confused with the SNF’s.

Intermediate care, however, is less extensive than skilled nursing care and generally serves patients who are ambulatory and need less supervision and care. Licensed nurses are not always immediately available in an ICF. At a minimum, ICF’s provide medical, intermittent nursing, dietary, pharmacy, and activity services. A Skilled Nursing Facility for special disabilities is a facility that provides a “protective” or “security” environment to persons with mental disabilities.

Many of these facilities will have “locked” or “security” areas where patients reside for their own protection or the protection of others in the facility. Some SNF’s have a designated number of beds for long-term mental patients. Nursing homes are primarily designed to meet the needs of persons convalescing from illness or to provide long-term nursing supervision for persons with chronic medical problems. A nursing home is not a hospital and does not provide the acute care provided in a hospital setting.

The goal of nursing home care is to provide care and treatment to restore or maintain the patient’s highest level of physical, mental, and social well being. You must know how to pick the one that will be the best for your loved one. So you must ask yourself these questions: Does the nursing home have the required current license from the state or letter of approval from a licensing agency? Do staff members show patients genuine interest and affection? Are patients allowed to wear their own clothes, decorate their rooms, and keep a few prized possessions on hand?

Are toilet and bathing facilities easy for handicapped patients to use? In case of medical emergencies, is a physician available at all times, either on staff or on call? Is at least one registered nurse or licensed practical nurse on duty day and night? Nursing home care is expensive. Although prices vary, the basic charge for a double-bed room in a typical nursing home is in the range of $20,000 to $50,000 a year. Homes in rural areas tend to be slightly less expensive than those in cities. The costs of medications and physician visits are not included in the basic charge.

Also, special treatments such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy often add to the cost. There are also possible additional charges for drugs, laundry, haircuts, and extra services. Some nursing homes are operated as nonprofit corporations. They are sponsored by religious, charitable, fraternal and other groups or ran by government agencies at the federal, state, or local levels. But many nursing homes are businesses operated for profit. Individuals or corporations may own them. Sometimes they are part of a chain of nursing homes.

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