Making the decision to entrust the care of a loved one to a nursing home can be fraught with emotion and overwhelming concern for his or her continued well-being. As the American population ages and life expectancies increase, the need for permanent assistance to care for parents and grandparents has risen. Since more and more families are looking to nursing homes to care for their loved ones, new tools are emerging to ensure families are able to make educated decisions about the facility they choose.
Most recently, a new online tool was created to allow families to review inspection reports from nursing homes in Manhattan, New York City and across the country. The search engine, called Nursing Home Inspect, was created by ProPublica to allow consumers to use keyword searches to discover deficiencies at facilities all over the United States. For instance, if a potential nursing home consumer were concerned about the incidents of residents with bed sores at facilities in Manhattan, he or she could do a search for “bed sores” or “pressure ulcers” to discover inspection reports regarding such issues.
This tool is also beneficial for families with relatives already living in assisted living facilities. Currently, there are 1.5 million residents in nursing homes across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 16,100 nursing homes in the country, Nursing Home Inspect has information regarding 14,565 of those facilities. As of September 21, 2012, the search tool had over 144,000 inspection reports available to the public.
Prior to the implementation of this ProPublica online search function, consumers who were interested in safety statistics regarding a particular nursing home had to take additional action. Consumers could file a Freedom of Information Act request to review a home’s inspection reports or they could choose to visit the nursing home in person. While it is still advisable to visit a home before deciding to place a loved one in its care, it is now much simpler to review its safety record.
Some nursing homes have responded that the online search fails to give a complete look at the care provided at the facilities. They contend the inspection reports only account for incidents of poor care, while they fail to consider other quality measures. For instance, the inspection reports do not discuss the satisfaction of residents as a whole in a particular home.
New York Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
With nursing home residents paying an average of $360 per day — or $131,484 per year — in New York City, it is critical for family members to ensure they are receiving the quality of care they deserve. Whenever there is a suspicion of nursing home neglect or abuse, family members should file a complaint with the New York State Department of Health. Filing a report will initiate an investigation and result in an update to the online search tool.
Nursing home residents are vulnerable adults and are therefore susceptible to substandard care. Patients who are neglected can suffer a variety of dangerous symptoms, including bed sores, malnutrition and dehydration. Nursing home residents can also suffer due to poor care, including failures to diagnose medical conditions and the over-prescription of antipsychotic medications.
Staffing levels at nursing homes are particularly important, as well, since residents with cognitive disorders may not know how to get back to the facility if they are allowed to wander off. This problem, referred to as “elopement,” is a concern in New York. While nursing homes in New Jersey require a certain number of staff members depending on the number of residents at the facility, New York does not have minimum staffing requirements.
If you suspect that your loved one has received improper care at a New York nursing home, consulting with a skilled personal injury attorney will ensure your loved one is properly protected. A New York nursing home injury attorney will fight for just compensation for the injured vulnerable adult.