A recent front-page story raised some troubling questions about the care of elderly residents of nursing homes or assisted living facilities with dementia. As a law firm that focuses on bringing civil lawsuits against such facilities on claims of nursing home neglect, we took great interest in the story.
The article alleged that assisted living facilities are less regulated than nursing homes, perhaps in part because they receive less federal funds from programs like Medicare. That’s troubling because patients with dementia may require staff that is specially trained to respond to their nonverbal or behavioral clues. In addition, dementia patients may require extra staffing and monitoring to safeguard against slips and falls, or other injuries. Sadly, understaffed facilities may resort to locking elderly residents with dementia in their rooms, instead of providing them with a professional level of care.
The article further alleged that existing regulations are poorly enforced due to lack of manpower: Only seven inspectors from the Alabama Department of Public Health are assigned to inspect approximately 300 assisted living facilities in the state, compared to the 40 inspectors assigned to about the same number of nursing homes statewide.
Although the story has already prompted a media response from the president of the Assisted Living Association, our position is that any increased scrutiny can only benefit this segment of society, whose voices all too often go unheard. An assisted living facility is meant to be a safe and socially rich environment for residents who may be experiencing a gradual decline in their health and capacities.
Where state regulators fall short, a tough personal injury law firm can help concerned loved ones fight against nursing home neglect and abuse. Check out our firm’s website to learn more about our approach to this injustice.
Source: al.com, “Dementia homes exist in gray area of regulation, families say,” Amy Yurkanin, Jan. 22, 2016