With the senior population growing and living longer, concern for the care of this country’s seniors continues to become significantly important and relevant. The elderly are among our most vulnerable citizens and we are often faced with the challenging decision of placing our older relatives and loved ones in nursing homes.
Sadly, nursing home abuse is making headlines on an ongoing, regular basis. And, despite the headlines nursing home abuse has garnered, news of elder abuse continues, as can be seen with the news that, according to Flaglerlive.com/Florida Health News, 20 percent—one-fifth—of Florida’s nursing homes are on that state’s violations watch list.
Sadly, families seeking care of their elderly family members are often left with very limited options, a scary prospect in today’s environment in which reports of nursing home abuse rising. Elder abuse is a devastating indignity that attacks these defenseless members of society on all levels: Physical, emotional, chemical, financial, medical, and sexual. Sadly, neglect, abuse, mocking, and even workers who have abused residents as part of pranks against each other are becoming more and more commonplace.
One family member told Flaglerlive.com/Florida Health News about her mother’s nursing home experiences. “She’s been dropped, she’s fallen out of bed, she’s had MRSA, and she had to have a toe amputated,” said Cathi Odom, whose mother has been at a home in Port St. Lucie since 2007. Odom told Flaglerlive.com that her mother also suffered from kidney failure as a result of dehydration. “My mother was put in their hands to be taken care of and they didn’t take care of her,” Odom said.
Odom also learned that the nursing home in which she placed her mother is one of 140 on Florida’s “Watch List.” In fact, noted Flaglerlive.com/Florida Health News, citizen advocacy group, Families for Better Care, discovered that one in five Florida facilities have made the Watch List for not meeting state standards, or for not implementing corrections quickly enough.
Brian Lee, executive director for Families for Better Care, describes the situation as unacceptable, noting that 12 homes have been on the Watch List for more than 100 days. “It is a multi, multi-billion dollar industry and they are living off the bedsore-ridden backs of our loved ones and making profits,” Lee told Flaglerlive.com/Florida Health News. Lee also mentioned that accessing information on nursing home violations is no easy task and called on the state Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), the agency that inspects nursing homes, to get the word out to consumers on how, said Flaglerlive.com/Florida Health News/ “They need to send a press release to the local community that the nursing home is in,” Lee says. “They need to alert people within the nursing home. They probably don’t know.”
The agency says that, because the information is available on its web site, they do not further publicize the data. The site, Floridahealthfinder.gov, enables public viewing for searches by home or region for the best- and worsted-rated facilities, wrote Flaglerlive.com.
The non-profit investigative reporting project ProPublica and its site, Nursing Home Inspect 2.o, also lists violation reports and reports of fines and other issues. The information is derived from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which has its own site called Nursing Home Compare. The ProPublica site offers an A-to-L scale, L being the worst ranking and, D, the most common. Industry dislikes the ProPublica site because it lists only deficiencies, not the entire inspection report, which LuMarie Polivka-West, senior director of policy and program development for Florida Healthcare Association, says can be misleading, according to Flaglerlive.com/Florida Health News.