91-year-old woman given 48 hours to find new home

A man's 91-year-old mother had lived in an assisted living facility since 2007. Then, one morning, the man and his wife received a phone call notifying them that his mother had 48 hours to find another place to live. Before the call, they had not suspected the facility of any sort of nursing home neglect. However, the reason she had to move so quickly was that the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) had suspended the operating license of the facility where she was living.

The facility was inspected following an incident in which a resident left the facility unnoticed. He was able to get a ride to his family in another town. The inspection revealed problems at the facility significant enough to warrant the emergency suspension of its license.

According to the director of ADPH's Health Provider Standards bureau, the suspension does not mean that the license has been revoked. It does mean, however, that they will have to have a hearing. It also means that they were required to discharge all of their residents within 48 hours following the suspension.

While the man felt that everything was done according to protocol, 48 hours is not very long to find adequate housing for individuals who may be suffering from dementia or other health concerns. He would have liked a more advanced warning that there were issues with the facility. The director counters that ADPH does not like to give owners and operators much warning because, during that time, residents will remain at risk.

Families who have concerns about the safety and well being of loved ones in an assisted living facility may look to an attorney for assistance. An attorney may be able to help families address abuse or neglect through litigation. A lawsuit might be an effective way to put pressure on a facility to provide better care for residents. It may also raise general awareness of the issue of elderly neglect and abuse.

Source: San Francisco Gate, "Ala. assisted living discharge protocol criticized", Kym Klass, June 21, 2013

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