Elder Abuse in Michigan Nursing Homes
There are few things in life as difficult as deciding you need to place a loved one in a nursing home. Every step of the way, from deciding a relative needs to be placed, breaking the news to them, choosing a facility, and acknowledging that life will truly never be the same, is overwhelming at best.
For some, cultural standards and beliefs about appropriate and respectful elder care play a role. For others, coming to grips with the fact that mom or dad are no longer able to care for themselves independently, can feel like a devastating blow. The process of institutionalizing a loved one, no matter why one has chosen to seek out nursing home placement, is a difficult experience for us all.
Elder Care Placement with the Best of Intentions
Despite the plethora of rules and regulations that address resident rights and nursing home abuse in the State of Michigan, there are still far too many elders in facilities who are mistreated, neglected, and abused. A significant reason families and residents fear nursing home placement, is because of the vulnerability that is part and parcel of the patient- caregiver relationship.
Fears of being defenseless against staff who bathe clients roughly, of being unable to undo dangerous side effects after being given the wrong medication, or being left to sit in their own waste until someone has time to tend to them, are just some of the preventable situations that nursing home residents may experience.
Family members generally place the people they love in facilities because they can no longer care for them on their own. When care needs abound, and far surpass a caregiver’s skill set, help is needed. It is painfully ironic then, that placement in a facility designed to protect the elderly is often the very place they experience the worst care and egregious mishandling.
The Rules and Regulations of Nursing Home Care
Every state in the Union has a specific set of laws designed to protect and defend the elderly. There are also federal laws governing nursing home abuse, including the Elder Justice Act. There are even more laws on the books for the elderly and infirm in nursing homes. Individuals who live in nursing homes for example, are to be provided appropriate and respectful care, have their privacy and confidentiality maintained for the duration of their stay, be granted access, as appropriate, to their medical records, and not be subjected to mistreatment or maleficence. And these are not just things provided out of kindness. Rather, these are federally protected, state mandated laws that must be both enforced and followed.
In order to keep the nursing home population safe, it is important to understand what legally constitutes abuse and neglect. According to the State of Michigan’s Office of Regulatory Reinvention, the administration of poor, incomplete care, as well as the presence of bedsores, symptoms of dehydration, sudden anxiety, and weight loss not otherwise explained by the patient’s diagnoses constitute abuse. Often times, these symptoms are warning signs that a resident is being physically or mentally abused.
Findings of physical assault, threats to hit or strike a resident, including the use of physical and chemical restraints to subdue them, are also considered abusive. Interacting with residents in a sexual manner, disclosing personal patient information to individuals or agencies without permission from the resident or their representative, and theft of any kind are also considered abusive and illegal.
Justice and Quality Care
It is hard enough to decide whether or not to place a loved one, and then, to determine where, without wondering if they will be abused, struck, or put in harm’s way. These are unfortunately realistic concerns that can be mitigated both by choosing a facility that has been rated highly during state inspections, and by making your presence known at non specific times, so staff know you could show up to visit grandma at any time.
Though good care should be a given, sadly, it is not. If you are in a nursing home or know someone who is, and are experiencing abuse or neglect of any kind, you need to contact Ernst Marko Law. The attorneys at Ernst Marko Law have successfully advocated against negligent and abusive care and truly understand what respect for elders is all about. We all deserve quality care and should be able to find it no matter where we live or our circumstances.