California Watch reported last week that, since 2010, five lawsuits have been filed against nursing home operators, all of which allege neglect or abuse due insufficient staffing. The lawsuits are a “big wake-up call,”according an attorney representing one of the plaintiffs. State data was used by prosecuting attorneys to identify nursing home chains and facilities that provided inadequate numbers of staff, and their message is clear: the practice of earning profits through understaffing is no longer acceptable, now that plaintiffs are fighting back. Complaints by the plaintiffs varied and include: being left unattended, call lights were left unheeded; received inadequate help with getting to the bath room, which resulted in sitting in a urine-soaked bed for yours; one resident was not moved enough to avoid developing bed sores; inadequate assistance with eating and rough handling by staff; being drugged until feeling sleepy and groggy; surgery to correct bedsores.
As we have stated before, deciding to place a family member in a nursing home is painful and difficult. Some families, however, have no other choice when the medical and physical demands make other options impossible. Choosing the right and appropriate home is not a task to be taken lightly. Families should make an appointment to tour each home in which they are interested. During each tour they should ask to see more than the public areas and visit several residents’ rooms. And, if possible, families should try to walk through the facility on their own, which will allow them to experience it without input from staff or the managing director, who may have a one-sided biased interpretation. Also, It is advisable for families to meet the other caregivers, faculty, and staff, and establish a relationship with them, and make sure that their loved ones receive care in a manner and in an environment that promotes dignity and respect. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we believe there is no substitute for visiting and seeing for yourself if a particular nursing home is acceptable-we have heard too many horror stories from families about relatives that were neglected or abused due to lack of oversight.