Assisted Living Facilites Need To Re-Evaluate If They Are Capable Of Caring For Dementia Patients

Many assisted living facilities and other nursing home alternative facilities have done very well financially–  playing into the stigma associated with nursing homes that many people hold.  While nursing homes may receive a fair amount of bad press, they provide essential medical services for millions of patients.

The level of care offered at assisted living facilities simply is not intended to take the place of the skilled nursing care offered in nursing homes.

Capable Of Caring For Dementia PatientsUnfortunately, I’ve seen too many assisted living facilities fail to accurately inform families about the limitations in care that they offer.  In most cases, it is up to the assisted living facility to inform families about the type of care they can provide and to do an assessment of each patient’s realistic care needs.

I feel strongly that assisted living facilities have an implicit duty to advise families if they can not care for their loved ones.  By accepting and retaining a patient, the facility implies that they are capable of safely caring for the person.

Over the years, I’ve seen the line distinguishing patients who require skilled nursing care provided in a nursing home vs. non-skilled assistance provided at an assisted living facility get blurry– very blurry especially with patients who are particularly reliant on facilities for most of their daily living needs.

Many dementia patients require extremely high levels of care, yet many assisted nursing facilities (alf’s) insist that they are capable of caring for them.

The ability of assisted living facilities to care for an dementia patient will likely get called into question after 90-year-old man (with dementia) wandered from a Sierra Oaks Assisted Living facility in Pennsylvania.  Ten days after the man wandered from the facility, police located the man’s body.

Could this have happened in a nursing home?

Of course.  Unfortunately, nursing home patients wander from facilities fairly frequently.  However, nursing homes are more likely to have staff in place and specialized equipment than assisted living facilities.

Situations, such as the wandering incident above, really should force families to re-evaluate the best living arrangements for their loved ones.

For laws related to Pennsylvania nursing homes, look here.

Related Nursing Home Law Center LLC Blog Entries:

Woman Dies From Hypothermia After Wandering From Assisted Living Facility

Family Sues Florida Nursing Home For Death Of Wandering Resident

Man Wanders 20 Ft. From Chicago Nursing Home To His Death

How Much Freedom Should Assisted Living Facilities Give The Mentally Disabled?


0 responses to “Assisted Living Facilites Need To Re-Evaluate If They Are Capable Of Caring For Dementia Patients”

  1. Travis says:

    The story of the man described above sounds as he was in an AL community instead of a memory care community which is locked. That doesn’t mean that he cannot get out. But you are right concerning the staffing.
    Egress systems are, I often found, not always functional and I as you stated, staffing is often a skeleton crew. For the most part, I feel pretty comfortable with the MC community since it provides a more homelike setting for the dementia resident. However, exit seekers, and those who require a more 1:1 staffing may need additional support such as a 1:1 sitter or nursing home as last resort.
    There is also the issue of life engagement activities. If residents are engaged in something throughout the day, there are often less problems. (There still may be that one resident however who cannot be redirected so easily). In many cases, staff are not properly trained and the oversite of the MC unit by the administrator or the wellness director (nurse if there is one) is minimal.

  2. Travis-
    I appreciate your experience with these type of situations. In addition to inadequate staffing, I tend to be critical of many assisted living— and even some nursing homes— that accept patients they simply are not capable of caring for.
    Most families who are forced to admit a loved one to a facility are easy prey for a facility trying to keep their census high. In this respect, I feel facilities have a duty to inform the family if they can not safely care for a patient. Shouldn’t families be allowed to rely on representations made to them at the time of admission?

  3. Angela Taylor says:

    Yes families should be able to rely on representations made at the time of admission!!!! However, once they have the patient….they do as they please…..our contract stated a month to month contract with only a cost of living raise (and in past they stated 2-3% as with the ecomony) then the next year impose a 7% increase!!!! The facility my Dad stayed in was always understaffed and people quitting left and right.
    The facility was one of a large corporation in NC who has many assisted living and nursing homes under their umbrella, as well as they bought up all the related companies who are the vendors so they encompass all the dollars. However, to maintain all those companies they skimp on the most basics for the elderly such as heating and cooling, food and activities that are not at all stimulating or fulfulling. They claim to have exercise programs but they are very lame and sometimes the activity director does not show up and the residents are there waiting and wondering what is going on?
    BEWARE people….BEWARE people…..we had togo to a court hearing and both employees lied on the witness stand….very pathetic…..they will do anything to keep the cash cow flowing

  4. Theresa Adams says:

    I strongly agree that Nursing Home staff do need to be evaluted to care for Dementia patients. My mother had Dementia and several strokes. She was placed in the nursing home in December and passed in January. The staff wasn’t not trained to deal with Dementia patients. They kept my mother in her wheel chair, in the hall drugged up during the day and she couldn’t sleep at night so with the 5 weeks she was there the doctor had her on 6 different kinds of antipsychotic drugs just to stop her from getting on the nurses nerves. When my mother died we asked why haven’t anyone call the family when she wasn’t responding for 24 hours. I ask to speak with the doctor and the nurse that announced her dead. Well the family and I was told the doctor wasn’t in the building and the nurse was busy with another patient. These nursing home staff need major training at least twice a year regarding Dementia patients. Someone has to care what happens to the elderly. Because it seems like the state works for the nursing homes. You make complaints and they come back with no findings. They are abusing the elderly just like the owners of the nursing homes.

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