Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Are Huge Problems

North Carolina Reflects on Problems of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

nursing home abuseAccording to Frances Messer, executive director for the North Carolina Assisting Living Association, nursing homes in the state are some of the most highly-regulated assisted living and long-term care facilities in the country. However, that has not stopped rampant nursing home abuse and neglect.

The underlying problem seems to be in the system of fines levied on nursing homes when abuse, neglect, or wrongful death of residents is reported. Investigators often issue fines based on the severity of problems they find in nursing homes. However, the facilities can always appeal the fines to have them reduced – in one case, the Clare Bridge facility was fined $60,000 for the choking death of an unsupervised resident, which the facility appealed and had reduced to just $20,000.

In spite of the neglect that led to the resident’s death, Clare Bridge has a rating of 4 stars for high quality care.

Local families in North Carolina have begun to speak out about the nursing home abuse and neglect experienced by their loved ones. WSOC TV News 9 investigated reports of abuse and neglect at Brian Centers, which operate across North Carolina.

Kimberly Wyatt’s mother Jo Ann Howard was admitted to the Brian Center of Hendersonville in April 2010, because she was unable to properly feed herself after suffering a stroke.

“If I had to do it over, I would not put my mom in the Brian Center,” she said.

“When you have someone that’s had a stroke and just lying in the bed, there’s certain things that you have to take care of, pertaining to the skin, the nails…and those things were just not being done,” Wyatt added.

Wyatt said that her mother was dependent on help from the staff for basic care needs, but the call button to reach a CNA was often out of reach.

Unlike Clare Bridge, the Brian Center is rated with only 1 out of 5 possible stars. Hillary Kaylor with the Area Agency on Aging said that high staff turnover and understaffing were huge problems for the Brian Center in Mecklenburg County.

“We do a lot of staff training trying to be person-centered, trying to adhere to care plans, and things that can happen at facilities,” Kaylor said.

The Brian Centers are owned by Sava Senior Care, which is headquartered in Atlanta. Regarding a recent lawsuit against the company for negligence, the company issued a statement: “With respect to staffing levels, there are no Federal staffing requirements and we manage staff in order to maintain North Carolina specific staffing minimums. Our management teams continue to monitor staffing levels on a daily basis and make adjustments, as necessary.”

The Brian Centers and Clare Bridge are, of course, not the only nursing homes with abuse and neglect problems reported. An investigative report into the Greensboro Living Center, conducted by the News & Record over the summer of 2013, revealed that the facility had had several incidents of nursing home abuse and neglect. For example, a 91-year-old died from an untreated head injury. A patient had reported violent behavior that went uncontrolled. Patients received the wrong doses of medication repeatedly.

Despite complaints about nursing home abuse and neglect, the Greensboro Living Center is still open.

“It takes extreme cases for a home to be shut down,” said Dorian Fredricksen, a regional long-term care ombudsman. “State law allows poor-performing homes a lot of opportunities to fix these problems.” She added, however, that while the state waits for the nursing home to fix these problems, new cases of abuse and neglect pop up.

The Strom Law Defends Victims of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

If your loved one has faced nursing home abuse and neglect, you do not have to suffer in silence. Contact the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm for a free, confidential consultation. We are here to help. 803.252.4800.

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