Philadelphia, PA- Neglect and abuse of the elderly in long term care facilities is a rapidly increasing and will continue to rise as the aging population grows. It is critical for Pennsylvania residents who are thinking of placing their loved ones in a long-term care facility to know how these facilities measure up.
Nursing homes across the country and in Pennsylvania were recently evaluated by a non-profit agency which advocates for residents of long-term care facilities. This advocacy group Families for Better Care used federal data to develop their grading system and gave the state of Pennsylvania a “C” grade.
Staffing is a common issue in long-term care facilities and having adequate staff is essential in preventing neglect and abuse. Families for Better Care found that Pennsylvania facilities were not adequately staffed and were given an “F” grade for the amount of direct care hours each resident receives daily, and a “D” grade for the number of professional nursing care hours available to residents in the state’s facilities.
On average nursing home residents in Pennsylvania receive 2.23 hours of direct nursing care, which is above the average of 1.5 hours in states that had even poorer staffing grades. Direct registered nursing care averaged to less than an hour per resident on a daily basis.
According to Families for Better Care, “Less than 40% of Pennsylvania’s nursing homes provide above average direct care staffing, resulting in a high percentage of understaffed homes.”
While the state scored poorly on direct care hours, Families for Better Care found that, “despite the state’s dreadful staffing grades, Pennsylvania nursing homes somehow rated among the lowest percentage of facilities cited for severe deficiencies.”
According to Families for Better Care, 91.65 percent of facilities were cited for deficiencies. An additional 5.23 percent of facilities were cited for severe deficiencies which are defined as events that cause immediate jeopardy or actual harm and resulted in resident injury, abuse, neglect, or death.
Neglect is more prevalent and can happen at any facility whether they are well staffed or not. A national survey from the National Center on Elder abuse found that at least 50 percent of nursing home staff admitted that they neglected a patient at least once in the past year. In another survey from 2000, cited by the NCEA, 45 percent of seniors said they were subjected to abuse and 95 percent said they were neglected.
Neglect can take many forms and can have adverse effects on a patient’s physical and mental well-being. Typical neglect includes: failing to provide proper nutrition, inadequate hygiene such a neglecting to bathe or properly clean a patient, not moving a bed-ridden patient often enough to avoid bedsores and failing to change soiled or dirty bed linens.
These simple negligent practices can create very unhealthy living conditions for the elderly and can cause them to develop a host of health problems ranging from bedsores, respiratory problems to bedsores. Left unchecked, health conditions can cause unnecessary pain or the untimely death of a patient.
Any person who suspects neglect or abuse in a long-term care facility should alert administrators and then contact a Pennsylvania nursing home abuse attorney to see if you have grounds to file a civil suit.