Staffing Issues May Affect the Quality of Care Rendered in Nursing Homes

When families are considering whether to use nursing-home services to care for their loved ones, they must consider various issues in determining whether a nursing home is capable of providing adequate care. Among other issues, a family must determine how well a nursing home staffs its operations.

For example, roughly 450 nursing-home care workers recently announced their intentions to go on strike to address the unfair labor practices occurring across four different facilities owned by the same company. But even before the workers commence their strike, the elderly residents within those facilities, and their families, have already endured the catastrophic effects stemming from underpaid staff, and the accompanying understaffed environment.

Understaffing, often, prevents facilities from delivering appropriate care to residents, and thus leads to neglect and abuse. For understaffed facilities, evidence shows increased incidents of—among other critical issues—pressure ulcers, catheterized patients, urinary tract infections; as well as an increased likelihood of death. At the same time, a facility must maintain adequate staffing to assist residents with eating, and to encourage their independence in feeding themselves. Without adequate staffing, facilities threaten residents with malnutrition and dehydration.

Furthermore, an underpaid staff may cause low morale, which will likely affect the quality care rendered to the residents, particularly for critical and labor intensive care such as frequent and regular turning and repositioning—often at least every two hours—of residents at risk of developing debilitating pressure ulcers. 

The dangers of understaffing in nursing homes is clear, and government regulators have attempted to reduce the negative effects by requiring all Medicare-participating nursing homes to meet the requirements specified in the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act. That legislation requires nursing homes to have enough staff to provide all necessary care to all patients on a 24-hour basis.

No one ever expects a family member or friend to be the victim of neglect or abuse in a nursing home. However, despite government regulations, residents of nursing homes often suffer the negative effects of underperforming facilities.

When someone you care about has been the victim of nursing-home negligence or abuse, the problems can seem overwhelming. Stark & Stark’s Nursing Home Litigation Group will advise you of your loved one’s legal rights, and will aggressively prosecute a claim whenever our investigation reveals any instances of negligence or abuse.

Levinning Your Case: Strategies to Get to the Truth in Nursing Home Cases

 Here’s an article on my good friend and fellow nursing home litigator, Steve Levin, of Chicago.  Steve and I were both lecturing in Washington, when I found myself very inspired by his perspective on depositions as a tool to get at a larger truth, rather than a two dimensional recitation of facts.  Since Steve was speaking right before me, I created an additional slide for “Levinning” the case – to help the attendees appreciate what this was really about. 

Congratulations to Steve for all of your good work for the vulnerable people you help.

Doctors Getting Inaccurate Rosy Picture Regarding Some Psychiatric Medications

While many people have no formal medical training, having a parent that suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia can give people a crash course in anti-psychotic, anti-depressant, and anti-anxiety medications.  Often times, these family members tell me they did not like the fact that their parent or loved one was taking these medications because it turned their parent “into a zombie,” had potential serious side effects, or just didn’t work. 

It appears that, in two articles today (available here and here), these family members may be right about the drugs not working.  Both articles discuss findings that some medications may not be as effective as previously thought, and that doctors are not getting the full picture with some of these drugs.

The articles find that some medical journals “continue to paint an overly rosy picture of the effectiveness of new drugs” and “selectively left out unflattering results.”

It’s important to know the medications your loved one is prescribed.  A family member spends the most amount of time with a resident and is best positioned to know what effect a drug is having on someone.  It cannot hurt to ask question.

Assisted Living & Nursing Home Patients' Rights

I recently met with Robert Ramsey of Garden State CLE to discuss the possible dangers facing Alzheimer's patients who reside in assisted living facilities when there is a "locked ward". Rob and I discuss why this source of abuse commonly happens, how I prepare for a case which includes this sort of abuse, and the genesis of the "Resident's Rights" statutes that now guides my practice.

 

The video is also available in a full-length version for those interested in obtaining CLE credits on this issue. For more information on how to register for these credits, visit the Garden State CLE's website, or feel free to contact me with any additional questions.

 

Suspicious Elder Deaths Rarely Investigated

I have had cases where a person suffers from a bed sore that is so large the spinal column is visible, and yet the cause of death listed on the death certificate states, “natural causes”, or “dementia”, or “Alzheimer’s”.  While we may still pursue a claim to hold those responsible for the large and painful wound accountable, it is frustrating to the family that the bed sore is not listed on the death certificate. 

We are currently prosecuting cases where had a resident not been taken to the hospital and died in the nursing home, the true cause of death would have never been discovered. 

Unfortunately, this situation is far from unusual. As reported in ProPublica, suspicious elder deaths are rarely investigated.  According to the article, autopsies performed on seniors are increasingly rare even though the United States population aged 65 and older has grown. From 1972-2007, the number of autopsies performed on seniors dropped from 37% to just 17% percent. Additionally, of the 1.8 million seniors who died in 2008, autopsies were performed on only 2%, and only performed on 1% for those elderly who passed away in nursing homes or care facilities.

AseraCare, a Hospice Company, Owned by Golden Living is the Subject of a Whistleblower Suit

The Federal Government has joined in a Whistleblower suit, which alleges that AseraCare, a national hospice company owned by Golden Living, wrongly took advantage of Medicare’s hospice benefit by pressuring its employees to place people into hospice who weren’t dying. The suit states that AseraCare first recruited patients who are eligible for skilled nursing care for 20 days, for which Medicare pays the entire bill. After 20 days, when Medicare requires patients pick up a part of the tab, AseraCare had the nursing homes send the patients to hospice, according to the lawsuit. In hospice, AseraCare would collect a flat payment from Medicare for each day they are enrolled.

We will follow this story on our blog and the recurring problem that appears to be growing on a national basis throughout both nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Here is an article relating to the government’s press release on the suit.

Royal Health Gate Employee Arrested for Sexually Assaulting Resident

Good employee hiring practices and proper resident supervision is an important part of running a successful nursing home. When these components are missing, seriously terrible things can happen. One piece of advice I give to those with family members in nursing homes is to get to know the staff and make sure there are enough people in the building – especially on nights and weekends.

A nursing home employee of Royal Health Gate in Trenton was arrested over the weekend after a witness reported seeing the worker sexually assaulting a 56 year-old resident. Police Sgt. Steve Varn stated, “Apparently he did this to the same victim a couple of times.” According to an article in The Times of Trenton, the employee “faces four counts of aggravated sex assault for the alleged string of rapes."

 

Convicts Working at Nursing Homes: More Common Than You Think

Earlier this month, Daniel R. Levinson, inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, reported that more than 90% of nursing homes employ one or more people who have been convicted of a crime. In addition, the report states that 5% of all nursing home employees have at least one criminal conviction.

 

Levinson cross referenced the names of more than 35,000 nursing home employees with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to see if they had criminal records. Mr. Levinson states, “Nearly half of nursing facilities employed five or more individuals with at least one conviction. For example, a nursing facility with a total of 164 employees had 34 employees with at least one conviction each.”

 

Currently, there is no federal law or regulation specifically requiring nursing homes to check federal or state criminal history records for prospective employees. Ten states require a check of F.B.I. and state records, while 33 require a check of only state records, and the remainder do not have a standard set of requirements.

Assault on Innocent Nursing Home Resident by Staff Member at Harborage Nursing Home in North Bergen, New Jersey

A disturbing recent story was released and ultimately televised involving an over-stressed nursing home employee who was caught on tape assaulting an innocent resident.  No matter how difficult the job, harming an innocent senior is vicious and wholly worthy of the prosecution that this employee faces.  It is imperative that nursing home owners carefully screen and supervise employees to prevent the needless harms that inevitably will ensue.
 

Needless death at Newport Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center

One of the most critical responsibilities for nursing homes that choose to accept cognitively impaired patients is to pro-actively do everything and anything it takes to protect them.
 
Many studies show that approximately 80% of nursing home residents suffer from at least some degree of cognitive impairment.  Many suffer in more profound ways.  Quality nursing homes engage in regular assessments and supervision to protect all residents.  When residents either display violent tendencies or the potential for violence, they must be supervised, treated and have constant attention made to their care plans.  Many times, there are solutions to such behavior and staff must always be on the lookout for new or changing issues.

Courageous Whistleblowers Lead to Record Government Recoveries

Telling the truth about those defrauding the government proves to be lucrative for the government, who took in $2.5 billion in healthcare fraud recoupment - the highest amount ever.  This is likely in part to new protections for employees courageous enough to come forward about employers who steal from and defraud the government. 

While whistleblowers are compensated with a percentage of the recovery, it still requires nerve to come forward about a company they work for who is cheating the state of federal government. 

Nursing homes are no exception to this practice of defrauding the government - billing for services, medications, and treatments that are either substandard or not provided at all - ultimately stealing money from taxpayers.  We have seen this in things such as bed sore treatments not being given, psychiatric consults where a resident is barely assessed before strong drugs are prescribed, and therapy not being done when it's supposed to. 

Those who come forward about these shameful practices need to be applauded.  Not only do they do what is right for their fellow citizens, but they force companies to deliver better care to their residents.

Mandatory Nursing Home Responsibilities

Many of our clients describe poor nursing home conditions that a loved one was forced to endure until they could be moved or before they died.  All too often, a nursing home will promise to fix problems complained about and don’t.  Most people are not aware that there are laws that dictate mandatory nursing home responsibilities.  Nursing homes that do not meet their obligations can be punished.

Along with specific resident rights, state law also sets forth specific responsibilities that a nursing home must fulfill.  These are important to know as well as resident rights because when a nursing home is not meeting its responsibilities it can deliver poor care.  Some of these responsibilities include:

  • admitting only that number of residents for which it reasonably believes it can safely and adequately provide nursing care (not enough CNAs or nurses)
  • ensuring that drugs and medications are not used for convenience of the staff, or for punishment, or in such quantities that interfere with a resident’s normal living activities
  • complying with all state and federal regulations
  • providing for the spiritual needs and wants of residents by notifying, at a resident's request, a clergyman of the resident's choice
  • ensuring that no resident shall be subjected to physical restraints except upon written orders of an attending physician for a specific period of time when necessary to protect such resident from injury to himself or others
  • any applicant for admission to a nursing home who is denied such admission shall be given the reason for such denial in writing

It’s important to know what a nursing home must do by law so they can be held accountable for poor care.  Make sure you have a copy of the law.

Pharmacy Serving Nursing Home Patients Settles Whistleblower Case Involving Drug Recycling

Here is a very disturbing story involving a pharmacy which for many years opened sealed containers of excess drugs in an unsterile environment and resold them to unsuspecting nursing homes - with no consideration for expiration dates or contamination.  This came to light solely due the bravery of a whistleblower-employee.

What many witnesses to such conduct do not realize is that there are laws to protect whistleblowers and to encourage this type of reporting.  Known as qui tam actions, private individuals, known as relators, can sue corporations which defraud the federal government and often receive a percentage of the proceeds received from the wrongdoer.
 

Hospitals Prove Deadly for Some Medicare Patients

A government study released today states that roughly 15,000 Medicare patients die each month due in part to the care they receive at hospitals. The study focuses on understanding adverse events in hospitals, or more specifically, any medical care that causes harm to a patient.

The study included 780 Medicare patients who were discharged from a hospital in October 2008. Those patients suffered from problems such as bed sores, infections and excessive bleeding from blood-thinning drugs.  Of the 780 patients in the study, 12 died as a result of hospital care, five of which were related to blood-thinning medication. Additionally, two other medication-related deaths involved inadequate insulin management resulting in hypoglycemic coma and respiratory failure resulting from over-sedation.

This is simply devastating and completely unacceptable for the roughly 47 million Americans enrolled in Medicare across the country.

Falsification of Records

A nurse in Florida has been fired several times for the falsification of records and poor work performance, and yet was hired again to work with children at a hospital in St. Petersburg. Over the past 10 years, Bernard Moran was employed by Mease Countryside Hospital and Helen Ellis Memorial. Moran was fired from Mease after he faked his time sheets and collected $118,000 at the expense of the residents and the facility. After a short suspension, Moran was hired at Helen Ellis Memorial in Tarpon Springs, Florida. While there, he falsified records to make it look like he had given nurses their annual CPR training and failed to inform his supervisor of two serious surgical mistakes. After all of this, Moran was recently hired as a nurse at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.  Read this full story online here.

Six Employees Arrested for Elderly Abuse at California Nursing Home

While resident abuse is shocking and disgraceful, there are times where behavior is simply unbelievable. Six employees were recently arrested at a facility where residents with dementia were covered from head to toe in ointment cream to make them slippery for the next shift as a practical joke.

It should be noted that when the elderly are dropped they can suffer fractured hips.  A fractured hip leads to disability and severe pain, and has a high mortality rate. The mortality rate is especially high in the first months after a fractured hip, and remains high for the first year. 

You can read more on this story online here.

Judge rebukes nursing homes for misleading mentally ill patients

In Illinois, a recent court settlement allows certain mentally ill patients who pass a screening to live in supportive community based housing.  Many of these residents are currently resigned to living solely in nursing home facilities.  After the settlement, some for-profit nursing homes were distributing “information sheets.”  Language in the “information sheets” included implications that those who choose to leave the nursing facilities for a community setting would be left without housing, food, or medical care.  A Federal judge, in a stinging rebuke of the nursing homes, found the flyers to be inaccurate and incendiary, appealing to residents' and family members' fears.  The judge shut down the nursing homes using these “scare tactics.”

You can read the full story online here.

State Partnership Allows Nurses to Work in Several States, Despite Criminal Activity

I recently found a USA Today article that details how nurses can move from state to state and keep working in spite of incompetence and criminal activity.  There is a compact among 24 states whereby a license obtained in a nurse's home state allows access to work in the other compact states. But an investigation conducted by, ProPublica, the non-profit news organization, found that the pact also has allowed nurses with records of misconduct to put patients in jeopardy. In some cases, nurses have retained clean multi-state licenses after at least one compact state had banned them.

You can read more on this story online here.

Blank Checks Stolen From Nursing Home Residents

Residents at ManorCare Health Services in Voorheees, New Jersey have fallen victim to someone stealing blank checks from the elderly residents. So far, at least five residents have been targeted, one of which is 97 years old and other wheelchair bound. So far, the thief has stolen more than $7,000 from his victims’ bank accounts.

And not too far away, in Stratford, New Jersey, there are police reports that Nathaniel Brooks was caught trying to cash one of the forged checks at a TD Bank. Luckily, the teller caught him, however, Brooks ran off before police could arrive. Police have said that none of the victims or administrators of the two facilities have seen the man before.

You can view a video of the man here, and police are asking anyone who recognizes the man to please contact their local law enforcement.
 

National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform

The National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform is a prominent national organization effectively utilizing consumer voices to fight for quality long term care. It is pro-actively defining and achieving a new standard of quality for long term care residents. If you feel you want to do more to help reduce neglect and abuse in long term care facilities, this is a great place to start!

Click here for more information.

 

Know Your Rights

Below is a general overview of nursing homes' responsibility to abide by federal and state law.  Nursing homes that receive medicaid and or medicare are required to comply with federal legislation. Federal legislation calls for a high quality of care. All states must comply with the federal regulations and some states have adopted even tougher laws.


In 1987, Congress enacted legislation requiring nursing homes participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs to comply with certain requirements for quality of care. This law is included in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA 1987), also known as the Nursing Home Reform Act. According to OBRA, a nursing home "must provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care..."


To participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, nursing homes must also be in compliance with the federal requirements for long term care facilities as prescribed in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (42 CFR Part 483).


Below is a list of some regulations with which the nursing home must comply:
  • Sufficient nursing staff to meet the needs of the residents. (42 CFR §483.30)
  • Conduct comprehensive and accurate assessments of each resident's functional capacity. (42 CFR §483.20)
  • Develop a comprehensive care plan for each resident. (42 CFR §483.20)
  • Prevent the deterioration of a resident's activities of daily living (the ability to bathe, dress, groom, transfer and ambulate, toilet, eat) (42 CFR §483.25)
  • Provide activities of daily living such at toileting, grooming, feeding and person hygiene if a resident assessment determines . (42 CFR §483.25)
  • Ensure that residents receive proper treatment and assistive devices to maintain vision and hearing abilities. (42 CFR §483.25)
  • Ensure that residents do not develop pressure sores and, if a resident has pressure sores, provide the necessary treatment and services to promote healing, prevent infection, and prevent new sores from developing. (42 CFR §483.25)
  • Provide appropriate treatment and services to incontinent residents to restore as much normal bladder functioning as possible. (42 CFR §483.25)
  • Ensure that the resident receives adequate supervision and assistive devices to prevent accidents. (42 CFR §483.25)
  • Maintain acceptable parameters of nutritional status. (42 CFR §483.25)
  • Provide each resident with sufficient fluid intake to maintain proper hydration and health. (42 CFR §483.25)
  • Ensure that residents are free of any significant medication errors. (42 CFR §483.25)
  • Maintain dignity and respect of each resident. (42 CFR §483.15)
  • Ensure that the resident has the right to choose activities, schedules, and health care. (42 CFR §483.40)
  • Provide pharmaceutical services to meet the needs of each resident. (42 CFR §483.60)
  • Be administered in a manner that enables it [the nursing home] to use its resources effectively and efficiently. (42 CFR §483.75)
  • Maintain accurate, complete, and easily accessible clinical records on each resident . (42 CFR §483.75)

Prevention of Inhumane Care

I took a deposition of a nurse yesterday who was charged with the care of my client toward the end of her life.  My client was fitted with a leg brace that was significantly too tight.  She complained of pain.  Her leg was bleeding.  No one responded.

To make matters worse, no pain medication was given.  This is not humane and it is not acceptable.
Thankfully,  many good people are working hard to make the final days of terminally ill patients more comfortable.


I recently found a website which offers tips on how to prevent this sort of inhumane treatment from occurring again.

Durable Powers of Attorney

Here is a link to good work being done to encourage families to obtain a durable powers of attorney for elderly family members. 
 
Very often nursing home residents begin their residency with all of their mental faculties.  Sadly, these frequently diminish over time.  Once a person lacks the mental capacity to designate an individual to serve as a power of attorney, the process becomes extremely complicated, slow and expensive.  Most importantly, necessary actions and decisions for NH residents often cannot take place without Court intervention. 
 
The simple solution is to get a power of attorney early on.  It is simple, inexpensive and the smart thing to do.

Nursing Home Employee Background Checks

One of the most prolific and dangerous trends in the nursing home industry is the failure to perform background checks on and properly supervise employees.  In this astounding case, a predator-nurse was reported to have abused multiple residents at a significant number of long term care facilities before detection. 
 
Since our office maintains claims at some of these facilities, we will be investigating to determine whether the families of potentially abused residents were ever notified of this nurse's history.

Understaffing in Nursing Facilities

A major concern with both nursing homes and assisted living facilities (ALF) is short staffing. In our practice, we routinely find the plaintiff’s injuries are directly related to inadequate staffing. If you have a loved one who is in a nursing home or ALF and are concerned about the staffing speak with the facilities administrator and/or a social worker. If you are unsuccessful contact the Ombudsman’s Office (this is an independent state-run office who advocate for the rights of elderly residents).

Resident's Bill of Rights

N.J.S.A. 30:13-5 is commonly referred to as the Resident’s Bill of Rights. Below I have provided an abbreviated version of those rights. The purpose of this is to give you an idea of what type of rights a nursing home resident is entitled to. However, it is advised that you review this statute in its entirety and/or speak to an attorney about the statute.

Every resident in a New Jersey nursing home shall:

(1) Have the right to manage his own financial affairs;

(2) Have the right to wear his own clothing and right to retain and use his personal property;

(3) Have the right to receive and send unopened correspondence;

(4) Have the right to unaccompanied access to a telephone and the right to privacy;

(5) Have the right to retain the services of his own personal physician;

(6) Have the right to unrestricted communication, including personal visitation with any persons of his choice at any reasonable hour;

(7) Have the right to prevent grievances on behalf of himself or others at the nursing home;

(8) Have the right to a safe and decent living environment and considerate and respectful care that recognized their dignity and the individuality of the resident. This includes the right to expect and receive appropriate assessments, management and treatment of pain as an integral component of that person’s care consistent with sound nursing and medical practices;

(9) Have the right to refuse to perform services for the nursing home that are not included in therapeutic purposes of his/her plan of care;

(10) Have the right to a reasonable opportunity for interaction with members of the opposite sex;

(11) Not be deprived of constitutional, civil or legal rights solely by reason of admission to the nursing home.

Respecting the Wishes of Nursing Home Resident

As a general rule, the caring staff of nursing homes and assisted living facilities (ALF) provides compassionate care with the best of intentions. However, it is equally important to have administrative processes to not only provide that care, but also to recognize and respect the wishes of nursing home residents. A recent lawsuit in New Jersey reflect against Sunrise of Westfield Assisted Living Center in Westfield, New Jersey involves the allegation that an assisted living facility administered CPR and revived its resident, despite the fact that a living will and do not resuscitate order were allegedly filed with the facility. The case contains the allegation that the resident survived another eighteen months and suffered the “horrific” and “progressive” final stages of Alzheimer’s Disease and thus resulted in suffering which was not only unneeded, but directly against the wishes of the resident. Although the facility denies liability, it was cited by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services for reviving the resident against her expressed wishes.

Healthcare Fraud

In the year 2005, the Department of Health and Senior Services awarded approximately 136 million dollars to whistleblowers across the United States. In cases filed under an area of law known as qui tam lawsuits, the federal government aggressively pursued both healthcare and non-healthcare providers who were accepting federal funds, but fraudulently billing them. Employees and private citizens with enough courage to do so, reported these improper actions to the federal government, allowing the Department of Justice to right a significant number of wrongs and recoup money that had been wrongfully taken from them. A beneficial byproduct of this area of litigation involved a number of CRIPA claims against nursing homes, centers for developmental disabilities and other institutions which provides healthcare services to our most vulnerable citizens. In a number of these cases, including two which I personally worked on, lawsuits and settlements directly resulted from the cooperation of families, attorneys and other concerned individuals. For more information on these claims and to learn where you can report mistreatment or fraud, feel free to visit the Department of Justice website.

Poor Working Conditions for Nursing Home Employees

Poor work conditions represents one of the most significant hurdles facing nursing home residents today. Workers who lack job satisfaction and who feel a sense that the management company is not providing them the support they need simply cannot deliver the level of care that our elderly deserve. When conditions reach a critical level, workers will literally leave the job. This happened as recently as August of this year at a Veterans home in Menlo Park, New Jersey. A union representative noted “people don’t want to come to work anymore, it’s so bad…we just want to be able to do our job in peace.” One worker claimed that she was on suspension for utilizing six work days, even though her contract authorized fifteen sick days. This represents a classic example of management failing to protect nursing home residents through fair and equitable treatment of its own employees.

Some Nursing Homes Motivated by Profit

Some nursing homes are simply motivated by profit. The more residents the nursing home has in beds the more revenue is generated. This causes some administrators and case managers to engage in rather shameful behavior. For example, after forty-four years of long-term care facility, Country Manor in Dover Township recently closed its doors. Once word was out that Country Manor was closing, the facility was inundated with telephone calls by administrators, case managers and social workers of other facilities interested in taking their residents. Some of those persons arrived at the facility uninvited and began soliciting residents. Others called asking for a list of public guardians. Another administrator reputedly called requesting access to residents to distribute brochures. When told this would not be permitted, he simply walked in the front door and began handing out brochures. The entire process became very stressful for many of the residents, many of whom weren’t able to understand what was occurring at Country Manor and where they are going. Apparently none of these professionals showed any compassion or concern for the residents. Their only objective appeared to be filling beds in their own facilities. When choosing a nursing home, always keep a vigilant eye out for those who appear to be putting a higher priority on profit than on the individual residents.

Long Hours for Nursing Home Workers

In keeping with concerns over worker and patient/resident safety, workers had picketed an Edison, New Jersey nursing home, complaining that they often would work sixteen hour shifts, seven days a week at the facility. There can be no question but that these type of working conditions, in the end, endanger the safety and welfare of nursing home residents.

Nursing Home Workers' Unions

Nursing Home Workers' Unions and their representatives provide some of the best assurances that nursing home residents will receive the care that they need. All too often exceedingly low pay and difficult working conditions lead to low morale for caregivers who otherwise have the best of intentions in providing quality care to nursing home residents. Alarmingly, many nursing homes throughout New Jersey and the rest of the country face work slowdowns, strikes and other complaints from union members that the nursing home owners and management simply aren’t providing workers with the tools they need and compensation they deserve for this very challenging job. In Indiana, the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against a local nursing home for its failure to even allow union representatives to meet with their members at the nursing home. This type of conduct is unacceptable and, in the end, greatly interferes with the ability of caregivers to provide nursing home residents with the level of dignity, comfort and growth that they deserve. Of the 250 owned by the corporate organization which ran this particular nursing home, at the time of the reporting, only five had been unionized.

The National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform

The National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR) is a consumer rights group interested in protecting the rights, safety and dignity of America’s long term care residents. Their goal is to achieve quality for residents of long term care facilities. They mean to accomplish this goal via:

1. Informed, empowered consumers;

2. Effective citizen groups and Ombudsman programs;

3. Promoting best practices in care delivery;

4. Public policy responsive to consumer needs; and

5. Enforcement of standards.

For more information about NCCNHR, contact them online or telephone them at 202-332-2275.

Publications to Assist You When Selecting a Nursing Home

Protecting the rights, safety and dignity of your loved one who is about to enter or who has been living in a nursing home is not always easily done. Publications exist that can benefit you greatly in understanding precisely what rights, safety and dignity issues exist at nursing homes. The following is a list of books and videos that can help answer many questions.

1. Nursing Homes: Getting Good Care There
Second Edition
Author: Sarah Greene Burger, Barbara Frank, Virginia Fraser and Sara Hunt

2. Nursing Home Staffing: A Guide for Residents, Families, Friends and Caregivers
Author: Sarah Greene Burger

3. Strength in Numbers: The Importance of Family Councils in Nursing Homes
Video developed by National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform
(NCCNHR)

4. 24/7: Residents’ Rights Around the Clock
Residents’ Rights Packet 2003
Developed by Julie Meashey, MAG

5. Giving Voice to Quality: Affirming Residents’ Rights in Long Term Care
Residents’ Rights Packet 2002
Developed by Julie Meashey, MAG

Taking Action Against A Negligent Nursing Home

If you are contemplating action against the nursing home for neglect or abuse, it is important that you do not delay in contacting an attorney. Under New Jersey law you would have two years from the date of the alleged neglect or abuse to bring an action. However, these cases often show patterns of neglect and abuse that date back well before any family or friends see evidence of it. In order to make certain that the nursing home is held accountable for all incidents of neglect and abuse, an action should be filed sooner rather than later.