Happy Residents’ Rights Week 2009!
Residents’ Rights Week is designated by NCCNHR, The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care and is celebrated the first full week in October each year to honor residents living in all long-term care facilities. It is a time for celebration and recognition, offering an opportunity for every facility to focus on and celebrate awareness of dignity, respect and the value of each individual resident.
Ombudsmen, citizens advocacy groups, family and residents councils and long-term care facilities across the country are honoring residents this week with several events. NCCNHR is proud to share examples of events taking place this week, as well as information that can be used to plan activities, on their website www.nccnhr.org.
Five Ways to Participate in Residents’ Rights Week
1. Visit residents of a long-term care facility.
2. Encourage a facility to use one of the activity examples from NCCNHR’s Residents’ Rights Week packet, available at www.nccnhr.org.
3. Educate families and the community about Residents’ Rights.
4. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about Residents’ Rights. Ask a resident to help you with the letter.
5. Host a Residents’ Rights Week Event.
Here is an interesting article from the Chicago Tribune stating that mentally ill patients now constitute more than 15% of Illinois’ total nursing population (92,225) and the number of residents convicted of serious felonies has increased to 3,000, including 82 convicted murderers, 179 sex offenders and 185 armed robbers. These are troubling statistics and may explain the increases in resident to resident assaults, rapes, and molestation. Hopefully, the nursing home industry will decide to increase staffing to supervise residents with a history of violence or criminal behavior.
The article mentions several instances where the mentally ill and the nursing homes’ lack of supervision caused injuries and death to residents.
More than any other state, Illinois relies heavily on nursing homes to house mentally ill patients, including those who have committed crimes. But the Tribune investigation found that the industry has failed to adequately manage the resulting influx of younger residents who shuttle into nursing facilities from jail cells, shelters and psychiatric wards. The state’s background checks on new residents are riddled with errors and omissions that understate their criminal records, and homes with the most felons are among those with the lowest nursing staff levels. The facilities had a financial motive for accepting them, suggested Richard Dees, chief of the state public health department’s Bureau of Long-term Care. When "the number of seniors going into nursing homes began to decline, there were facilities with empty beds," Dees said.
Meanwhile, state authorities don’t track assaults and other crimes in nursing homes, making it difficult to uncover patterns and address the problems caused by unstable individuals. Police reports show that since March 2008, police reported 511 cases of assault or battery, 27 cases of criminal sexual assault and 24 narcotics violations in city nursing homes. The Tribune documented instances in which nursing homes failed to report attacks to the state health department as required by law. At the same time, state inspectors do not compile incident reports in a central location. And because the health department’s computerized case-tracking software is antiquated and ineffective, department officials have difficulty assembling and analyzing the facility reports to uncover patterns of attacks at unsafe homes, the Tribune found.
Several national studies question whether they receive meaningful psychiatric care in nursing facilities. A pending class-action lawsuit, brought by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and the American Civil Liberties Union, describes some Illinois homes as filthy, frightening holding pens where "groggy" residents watch TV in crowded, noisy common areas or are directed over loudspeakers to wait for medication and meals in long lines.
I am happy to report that Moody & Warner, P.C., an employment law firm in New Mexico, specifically Whitney Warner, got a verdict in federal court against various Fundamental/THI entities last week in a wrongful discharge case. Significantly, the verdict was against multiple THI/Fundamental entities because the jury found that they operated as a “single employer.” I think this is extremely important to all of us who try to hold these parent entities accountable.
Mr. Prendergast had been treated horribly by his employer THI/Fundamental entities which includes Fundamental Long Term Care Holdings, Fundamental Clinical Consulting, Fundamental Administrative Services, THI of Baltimore, Inc. and local operators in an elaborate corporate scheme. These entities are represented by Lori Proctor. This case was about the maintenance director, Mr. Prendergast, who was fired after “corporate” decided he was too concerned for the health of the residents, and complaining about unsafe and unsanitary practices such as having to paint over mold in the bathrooms, delays in approvals for repairs, and otherwise being aware and willing to talk about how dangerous and run down this facility was. These kind of unsafe and unsanitary practices will lead to dangerously high infection rates. The facility has thankfully been closed down.
The Tenth Circuit weighs four factors in considering “whether two nominally separateentities constitute an integrated enterprise or single employer: (1) interrelations of operations; (2)common management; (3) centralized control of labor relations; and (4) common ownership andfinancial control.” Here is the Order denying Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment on the "single employer" rule or "integrated entity" enterprise.
Whitney Warner is a phenomenal lawyer who put a tremendous amount of thought and effort into this case. Although this does not represent a huge damages award, the significance of this verdict is invaluable.
Below is an email i recieved from an ex-employee of Life Care Centers of America. I have redacted certain personal information to protect her.
Comments: To Whom it May Concern,
I’m a former employee of Life Care Center of Sandpoint located in Sandpoint, Idaho. I ended my employment with Life Care. I found an interesting article on the internet by an Attorney in California on the operations of 13 different Nursing Homes. It had to do with abuse, neglect, fraud and other types of bad business conduct.
I was employee at Life Care for 6+ years and worked in the Marketing & Admissions process for approx 3-4 months. I did not do that job for very long because I felt I was lying to the families about the wonderful care resident’s were to receive. I would walked down the halls and find residents not positioned in their wheel chairs properly, uncombed hair, dirty faces, needless to say unshowered for a week at a time! I soon went back to the floor as a C.N.A. to take care of the people.
And yes lots of times the facility were I worked was short staffed, many of the Resident’s needs were not being met. Needless to say when it came time for employees to take their vacation they were denied because there was no coverage. So many had to find their own coverage! Which was one of the benefits for working for such a Company is Paid Vacation days. It is a bitter
subject for me being they have not paid me of my Vacation days acquired.
Anyways about Life Care and their Policy. They have an electronic system to record all of the Cares done for the Resident’ by the CNA’S. Which it seems to me a big cover up to blame their business practices on the CNA’s there. Also they have another system called IDA which records all the incident of residents. It is such a clever thing to have this system . But what it does is steal the Care from the Resident’s while you sit and do all your charting at a computer for a 1/2 hr to an Hour. The managers have so many meetings that they can’t even get their own work done! And on and on it goes. May main concern is for the resident’s in those places. They lose everything they worked for!
Greenville News reported the story of a nursing home employee arrested for stealing money from a nursing home resident. I wonder how many times employees have done this to incompetent and demented residents who can’t speak up or no one will liten to or believe?
The victim is an 88-year-old woman who lives at Oakmont Nursing home in Union. She repeatedly noticed cash missing from her room. Only the woman and employees of the facility have keys to where she keeps her money. The woman said she recently left money in a bank envelope inside a purse that she put in a drawer while she was out her room. The next morning, she noticed $40 missing. The woman reported the incident to the supervisor, and then experimented by leaving two $5 bills in her purse in a drawer. Both bills ended up stolen during two different times when the woman was out of her room. Police arrested Brenda Rochester on two counts each of second-degree burglary and petit larceny after comparing the times of the thefts with the work schedules of those who had access to the room.
There are approximately 17,000 residents in 174 nursing homes in South Carolina. There are too few surveyors, ombudsman, and investigators to protect these residents from sexual predators, theiving nurses, and greedy corporate owners. Something needs to be done.