The good news is that elder law is a growing specialty of the law that many attorneys are entering to help seniors in all walks of life, including nursing home abuse. The bad news is that abuse of all kinds happens at all.
The Florida Legislature passed a series of acts and developed a comprehensive legislative statute known as Chapter 400, in 2009. The legislature acted because it found the rights of the elderly were not being fully ensured by the existing rules or the good faith owners or operators of long-term facilities.
Under law, a nursing home or assisted living facility resident is guaranteed certain rights when residing in a home, including the right to a safe and clean environment, the right to direct their own care or have a loved one do so, the right to proper medical care and privacy, and the right to be free of chemical and physical restraints.
With Americans living longer than ever before, a proliferation of nursing homes and assisted living facilities (ALFs) will be needed to provide an option for older family members. But abuse in these facilities is called a hidden crime because it can be difficult to identify, especially if it is concealed by the staff or the victim is too intimidated or incapacitated to report the abuse.
Federal Report on Elder Care
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reports that elder abuse in a non-institutional living arrangement is a problem affecting hundreds of thousands of the elderly. The true numbers of abuse whether in an institutional or non-institutional setting are hard to come by since the victims could be too embarrassed or disabled to report the abuse. NCEA reports that there may be close to 2 million people were victims of various forms of elder abuse in a one year period.
What’s most shocking is that often it is the children of the elder who are the abusers.
In an institutional setting, many nursing homes are chronically understaffed, perhaps as many as 91 percent, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The federal report also found that up to 40 percent of nursing homes would have to hire 50 percent more staff just to comply with minimum staffing standards. Is it any wonder that in a recent one year period, there were more than 20,000 nursing home abuse and neglect claims investigated in the U.S?
Types of Elder Abuse
The NCEA has defined seven different types of elder abuse including:
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Emotional Abuse
- Financial Exploitation
- Self Neglect or behaviors that threaten the individual’s safety
The most common type of domestic elderly abuse was neglect (55%).
Friends and family are encouraged to visit their loved ones nursing home and often and unannounced. Visits, especially unannounced ones, can help reduce incidents of mistreatment.
Florida provides a list of facilities in the state by region. The five-star system indicates the highest ranking. The state also created an Office of State Long-Term Ombudsman to carry out positions of leadership in ensuring homes are safe and free of conditions that threaten safety and health.
Take an active role in your loved one’s care. Farah & Farah has Jacksonville nursing home abuse attorneys to help those who have suffered at the hands of uncaring staff recover personal injury compensation for pain and suffering, injuries and all sorts of damages. For more information, please call 855-797-9899.