Little Rock, AR (Law Firm Newswire) May 8, 2012 – Virtually every U.S. family has, or will have, a family member in a nursing home. Be aware of what goes on in them.
“Not ‘all’ nursing homes are bad, neglectful or negligent when caring for their patients. However, there is enough of this kind of behavior going on across the nation that you need to be aware of it,” says Michael Smith, an Arkansas injury lawyer and Arkansas accident lawyer, practicing personal injury law in Arkansas. “We tend to think that just because a loved one goes into a nursing home, that they will be cared for, treated with dignity and shown respect. We could hardly imagine some of the true horrors that go on behind those closed doors when we are not there.”
“If you happen to have seen the Congressional study relating to the amount of abuse that happens in nursing homes, you were likely shocked beyond words,” Smith added. To get an idea of the scope of this issue, consider the fact that there are over 16,094 nursing homes in the United States, a number that represents about 1.7 million beds, with approximately 1.5 million of those beds occupied. That is an occupancy rate of roughly 86 percent, in constant rotation, as the average resident is there for 835 days.
That Congressional study indicated at least 5,283 nursing homes were handed abuse citations, thanks to residents, families or advocates reporting them. What types of abuses are involved? Typically people think of abuse in terms of being physically abused, and while that is part of this ugly, largely hidden picture, it is not the whole picture. Consider having a loved family member in a nursing home where the staff attack residents for accidently wetting or soiling themselves, causing broken wrist bones and a broken neck, followed by death.
“What about contemplating the frightening thought that your elderly mother, father, aunt or uncle is being psychologically, mentally, emotionally, verbally and/or sexually abused on a daily basis? If you are thinking that could not be possible, there are figures that show over 30 percent of nursing homes ‘are’ guilty of some form of abuse. That’s a horrendous number of elderly people facing a daily living hell,” Smith remarked.
Sadly, only about 20 percent of abuse cases are reported, because even though it is rampant, it is, in many instances, carefully hidden. Even worse is the shocking statistic that over half of those in nursing homes do not have a close relative to watch their backs. “Put yourself in a similar situation. Would you be stress free and well cared for if you were being abused on a daily basis? This has to stop, even though there may appear to be an understandable reason for this; understaffing,” insisted Smith.
The main issue here is nursing homes are chronically understaffed. The recommended average is one caregiver per three patients during meals, and one caregiver per six patients during the rest of the day. Despite being understaffed and overworked, abuse in ‘any’ form is completely unacceptable. Our seniors deserve only the best of care, and yet, statistics show that is not what they get.
“If you have concerns about a relative in care, do not hesitate to call me right away. Find out what legal options are available, how to stop the abuse and what you can do for your loved one,” Smith suggested. A skilled Arkansas personal injury lawyer knows what to do to get results. “One day, you may be in the same situation, and there is no doubt you would want someone to stand up for you. Do it now, because it is the right thing to do.”
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