When Nursing Homes Harm Instead of Help

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The truth about many nursing homes is not often as clean and caring as their facade. Some are well run by sincerely caring individuals, but unfortunately, far too many are run as nothing more than a cut-throat business eager to meet their bottom line.

Unfortunately, theft, abuse, and neglect are common problems for residents and their families. If you or a loved one is dealing with any of these issues, be sure to contact the National Adult Protective Services Association for help. Another form of abuse that has been coming to light isn’t just about what happens at the nursing home, but also the forced evictions from nursing homes that leave residents traumatized and with inadequate care.

Medicare coverage pays nursing homes a higher rate for only a period of time, and then it switches over to Medicaid, which pays less.  Unfortunately, it is more about the medicare than the client’s care as far as some nursing homes are concerned. When Medicare runs out, nursing homes begin pressuring residents to leave with unjust misinterpretations about discharge.  

This happened to Deborah Zwaschka-Blansfield, 59, who was staying at a nursing home to recover from having the lower half of her left leg amputated six weeks prior. In fact, New York Times reports that the nursing home was trying to have her leave and go to a homeless shelter.  The kindest thing they offered was one paid week in a motel.

The number of discharges has been an issue even since 2015, but the Trump administration has since lowered the standard even further for nursing homes. Fines have been weakened for homes that have chosen to maximize profits over the well-being of residents. It has already been determined, as well, that the problem isn’t actually lack of regulations, but lack of enforcement. The truth is, fines are often modest anyway, and they are just a slap on the wrist for unscrupulous nursing homes that just roll it into business costs.

Illegal evictions are a growing problem across the nation. NPR reports that complaints about this have gone up 73 percent since 2011. Two important laws have been passed to protect those in nursing home care: Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 and Nursing Home Resident Protection Amendments of 1999.  

What can you do?

If you or a loved one is experiencing problems, work your way through the staff on up to the supervisor and administrator. Also, be sure to find where the nursing home posted their required name and contact information for local state groups that can help you. Residents and their loved ones must know their rights when they get a notice of transfer, and getting legal counsel from an elder law attorney can really help in this situation.  Click here to find a knowledgeable lawyer near you. Here are the rights of residents that are being told to transfer:

  • Transfers can be appealed if they are unlawful
  • If a facility didn’t provide notice about not accepting Medicaid, then a resident that is waiting to get Medicaid cannot be forced to leave
  • A 30-day written notice with a plan and reason by the nursing home is required for transfer/eviction, except in emergencies
  • All transfers and discharges must be safe and orderly
  • Proper notice is required about bed-hold and admission requirements
  • A grievance procedure for complaints is REQUIRED for every nursing home.
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