West Virginia residents with loved ones who have trouble caring for themselves often face an emotionally difficult task: finding a good nursing home and moving their loved one into it.
Obviously, everyone wants to find a clean and caring home free from nursing home abuse and neglect of residents. The reality is that not all nursing homes are as safe as we would like them to be for our loved ones.
A North Carolina TV station recently investigated reports of nursing home neglect and abuse at homes that had good ratings from Medicare. The federal agency rates the homes from one to five stars, with one being the lowest rating and five being the rating for the best facilities.
The station found that some four- and five-star rated nursing homes were not living up to their reputations.
The Raleigh station's investigation showed that nearly half of the homes in the area were "providing poor service," meaning inspectors found unsanitary conditions that could put patients' health at risk.
One woman told the station that she had put her mother in a four-star rated nursing home, only to see her mother receive what she believed to be substandard care.
"It just broke my heart," the woman said.
Her mother complained of frostbite and severe cold. The woman examined her mom's foot and found a black spot that turned out later to be gangrene.
Only later did she learn that the rating for the nursing home didn't reflect earlier complaints and fines levied against the facility for allegedly putting residents in "immediate jeopardy to health and safety."
Apparently Medicare hadn't been able to update its rankings in a timely manner.
The woman said she would have never put her mom in the facility had she known of the allegations.
Experts say people looking for nursing homes should certainly check those Medicare ratings, but they should also pay visits to nursing homes under consideration. Visit the homes, and then visit them again. There are no substitutes for your own eyes, ears and nose when it comes to checking the conditions of the facility.
When abuse or neglect surfaces at a nursing home, an attorney experienced in this complex area of law can help protect loved ones and recover damages.
Source: ABC, "Nursing home ratings system questioned," Nov. 8, 2012
- Our Charleston firm handles cases involving abuse and nursing home neglect.