Lawyer Resources for Assisted Living Facilities

assisted-living-in-nursing-homesFor many people who are not quite ready for a full nursing care facility, assisted living facilities provide the perfect compromise between receiving more assistance and still maintaining some independence. Even though these residents are oftentimes in better health and more independent than those in a nursing home, that does not mean they do not rely on their caregivers. Because of this reliance, those living in assisted living facilities are at risk for neglect, injury, possibly even abuse when the assisted care center is not managed properly.

The need for a safe environment

The main reason that older citizens move towards these assisted living facilities is that they want to reduce their risk of harm or injury. They may become increasingly reliant on others to help them. If the staff does not do its duty, it is possible for accidents to occur. Some of the most commonly seen injuries in an assisted care center include:

  • Malnutrition – Especially as patients get older, it is important to eat the necessary calories and nutrients. Otherwise, their health may deteriorate even faster. Many elderly patients may have specific diets that they need to follow, for example, low sodium diets for people with high blood pressure.
  • Falls – Not only are patients over the age of 65 more susceptible to falls, a fall is also far more likely to cause serious injury after that age. According to the CDC, every year, one in three older adults will experience a fall. In fact, CDC statistics from 2009 show that 19,000 adults suffered fatal injuries because of a fall that year.
  • Supervision – Even though the residents maintain a level of independence, the staff is still responsible for supervision. If the staff is not adequately trained or if there is not enough staff available, it may lead to injuries that may have otherwise have been prevented.

Abuse in assisted living facilities

Unfortunately, whether intentional or unintentional, the reported number of abuse incidents in assisted care centers has increased in the last two decades. While these patients have a better cognitive function and more mobility than those in a nursing home, they are still prone to neglect and abuse. Some of the types of neglect and abuse occurring at assisted living facilities to keep an eye out for include:

  • Neglect – A patient who moves into an assisted care facility still requires some assistance. It is never acceptable that a patient is neglected in relates to their personal hygiene, medical needs, or nutritional needs.
  • Physical – This is perhaps the easiest type of abuse to identify. Using physical force to ‘discipline’ or hurt residents is never acceptable.
  • Sexual – We can expect that the staff at an assisted living facility is going to protect those entrusted to them from sexual abuse, both from other residents and employees.
  • Emotional – One of the most difficult forms of abuse to identify, emotionally abusing, bullying, or harassing residents can have a devastating impact.
  • Financial – Financial abuse is an increasingly common form of abuse for the elderly. It is important that residents be protected against identity theft, money embezzlement, and being stolen from by employees or residents.

Abuse in assisted living facilities is never acceptable. Learning how to identify possible signs and reporting those to the proper authority is the only way to enact change.

Attorneys For Mistreatment, Abuse & Injury At Assisted Living Facilities

Due to their unique licensing structure, assisted living facilities are controlled by very different laws than nursing homes. Consequently, cases involved an injury at an assisted living facility must be approached differently and require the expertise of a law firm who appreciates this distinction. If your family member sustained an injury during and admission to an assisted living facility, we invite you to contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for a consultation relating to your legal options. As with all of our elder abuse cases, we only charge a legal fee if there is a recovery for your family. Call us anytime (800) 926-7565

Nursing Home Abuse and New MexicoTo many times, violence happens to the people who deserve it the least. Nursing home residents suffer an astonishingly high level of abuse in several different forms: physical, mental, emotional, sexual, and financial to name a few.

Who abuses them? Normally, it is the people closest to them including other residents, nursing home staff, or various third parties.

To show you the problem of nursing home abuse in more detail, we listed some summaries of typical New Mexico verdicts and settlements below:

Film shows lack of attention to assisted livingAssisted Living for Elderly Family Members

Assisted Living Homes have become very common in the United States. Even though, a few schools of thought in our society are highly critical of this way of living, elders who are unable to take care of themselves have no other option but to choose an assisted living facility to fulfill their needs.

What exactly does such a facility do? Even if you have never heard of assisted living, the term itself gives away the idea. Say, for instance, you have a relative who needs constant help to do even the basic personal tasks like changing clothes, bathing, washing hands, taking medications etc. If this relative has no one to aid him with these chores, he can choose to live in an assisted facility. This facility hires helpers who then give a hand to these elders in bathing, changing and doing most of their personal work.

Regulations in Assisted LivingWith the Baby Boomer generation growing older, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure that our senior care options are not only improved, but increased as well. However, the needs of seniors throughout the country vary greatly. We have seniors who need round-the-clock care and we have those who may just need a little extra help around the home.

One of the most controversial topics in relates to elder care has been assisted living facilities. In fact, California lawmakers released a dozen legislative proposals to the public that all aim to stiffen the regulations at California assisted living facilities. Considering that California has 7,700 assisted living facilities throughout the state, changes here may set an interesting precedent for other states.

What are these proposed changes?

Dangerous Care is Dangerous for the ResidentsWhen we think about assisted living facilities, it becomes easy to romanticize the actual living conditions for many elderly Americans. When someone enters into one of these facilities, they are unable to take care of themselves – so we expect others to help them where possible. We worry about whether they will feel comfortable in their new surroundings, whether they make friends, but most people are not actively worried about their living conditions. We also do not worry whether the staff that works there knows what it is doing.

However, the truth is that assisted living facilities have become a multibillion-dollar industry. With such a large industry, it is unsurprising that unscrupulous people become involved. These are people who want nothing more than to turn a profit. Unfortunately, there is no involvement by federal officials and a mishmash of minimal state regulation.

The shameful case in Ohio

Repeated-Episodes-Of-Abuse-Reported-At-Assisted-Living-FacilityIt is always upsetting to hear of elder abuse and neglect, especially in facilities that are being paid to care and protect the elderly. State officials cited a facility in Hazel Green, Alabama called Agape Village for several serious violations in September 2012. The home was found to have repeated patterns of abuse, neglect and other problems that put their residents at risk.

Abusive Environment

Agape Village had many issues that were putting the patients within the facility in danger of both abuse and injury. During the state inspection, a tale of unchecked abuse and neglect began to unfold. Some of the incidents that were contained in the state report were:

Senior Wanders into DeathVery few cases frustrate me more than when a patient wanders from the safety of a nursing home or assisted living facility to encounter an situation that they are ill-equipped for resulting in a serious injury or their death. The overwhelming majority of individuals involved in these episodes are people with advanced cases of dementia or Alzheimer’s who simply have no business leaving the safety of the facility without supervision.  The fact that these patients generally walk right out of the front door of a facility into the outside world demonstrates how little oversight many of these facilities provide to their patients.

Another death of an assisted living patient

The most recent wandering incident involves an assisted living patient who wandered from the safety of Four Winds Lodge in Wisconsin just last week. According to reports from the Associated Press, the body of the 93-year-old woman was found on a sidewalk near the facility a day after staff at the facility last saw her. A medical examiner has determined her death to be related to hypothermia related to the exposure to the elements.

Punitive Damages Awarded To FamilyWe’ve recently been discussing the elder abuse trial in California involving assisted living giant Emeritus where the family of a deceased resident has initiated a wrongful death lawsuit against the operator for its inferior care. After awarding $3.85 million in compensatory damages, the jury just handed over a separate punitive damage verdict of more than $23 million.

According to reports of the verdict in the Sacramento Bee, jurors were particularly distraught by the fact that the company had annual revenues of $1.57 billion, profits  of $116 million and a stock market valuation of $1.34 billion– yet they paid no federal income taxes over the past three years.

For laws related to California nursing homes, look here.

Senior Wrongful Death TrialAfter hearing evidence in a wrongful death lawsuit against assisted living behemoth, Emeritus Corp., a California jury awarded the resident’s family $3.875 million for the woman’s pain and suffering she endured during a three-month admission to their Emerald Hills facility.

Apparently the jurors hearing this matter were unswayed by arguments presented by lawyers for Emeritus who proposed that the woman’s death was a result of her compromised medical condition and an inevitable progression of her Alzheimer’s. Read more about the specific allegations made relating to this case of elder abuse in our recent blog post here.

In rendering their decision, jurors were given the task of deciding 15 questions to be answered in a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ fashion based upon the evidence that they were presented with. The 12 jurors unanimously decided in favor of the deceased woman’s family on virtually all of the issues presented before them including:

patient-abuse-assisted-living-facility-193x300It’s no secret that senior care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities make more money when they keep their facilities fully occupied. As the overwhelming majority of costs to operate these facilities are relatively fixed, the more patients that the facilities can bring into the facility (and keep them there), the more lucrative the operation becomes. While there’s really nothing wrong with a facilities desire to make a buck or two, the implicit understanding between families and facilities is that by bringing new patients into the facility, each patients needs will be met. In a similar vein, while a patient may enter a facility with one condition or medical need, the facility can adapt to the provide the care that the patient requires– or they may suggest that the patient requires care elsewhere. The bottom line is that there is an expectation by accepting the person as a patient, the facility can– and will– provide sufficient care for the patient during the entire course of their admission.

What to do when needs change?

Obviously, people age and care-related needs change with time as well. The decision of when a patient may no longer be well-suited for a particular facility is at least as important of a decision as a facilities initial acceptance of a patient initially– and perhaps an even more significant decision as the care-related needs generally increase with age. Given the financial reverberations felt when a nursing facility requests that one of their patients seek care elsewhere an inherent conflict may arise when the time arises when a nursing home is no longer a good fit.

assisted-living-employee-201x300While there are many employees who are truly dedicated to their positions at facilities that fall under the umbrella of the long-term care industry (retirement homes, assisted living facilities and nursing homes), there are many others who view the job as nothing more than a paycheck. Given the working conditions and relatively low wages, I can hardly blame these people for wanting to find better types of employment for themselves and their own families. The inevitable result of this discontent on the job is that there are high rates of staff turnover at these facilities where workers jump ship at the first opportunity of a better position. As reported in McKnights, a study conducted by the National Center for Assisted Living and My InnerView found that just 73% of employees at assisted living facilities stayed at their jobs over a one-year period.  Moreover, after reviewing staffing data from 370 assisted living facilities across the country, the authors of the study further evaluated turnover rates by position within the facility and determined:

  • Food service personnel had a 26% turnover rate
  • 29% of nursing staff were likely to leave their positions during the course of the year

Justia Lawyer Rating for Jonathan Rosenfeld

Client Reviews

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric