Preventing Crime in Nursing Homes
When families take their loved ones to live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, their goal is to have their family member safe and given the level of care that they need. Unfortunately, there have been many cases of residents in these facilities receiving substandard care, or worse, being abused, mistreated, or taken advantage of by facilities or their staff members.
Identifying Common Crimes
Of the ten most common nursing home resident rights violations, “Not Employ Persons Guilty of Abuse” ranks eighth, with other violations such as keeping the facility free of potential hazards, providing necessary care for the “highest practicable well-being”, providing sanitary conditions, meeting professional standards, and keeping treatment plans free of unnecessary drugs.
Another sadly common crime that occurs at nursing homes is theft of facility or patient objects. Though this occurrence has not received as much documentation as patient abuse or other crimes, a survey taken of employees and family members of residents at 47 nursing homes in 10 states found that 25.4 percent of employees either witnessed their coworkers stealing from residents or suspected them of doing so, approximately 20 percent of family members suspected that their relatives’ possessions had been taken by nursing home employees, and a small percentage of employees admitted to taking objects from residents.
Nursing Home Reform – The New Provisions
In September of 2016, the federal government released a set of revisions to the regulations initially established by Ronald Reagan’s 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law. The new provisions, meant to address every aspect of nursing home care, include the following:
- Expanded treatment options – Care and services now include pain management, dialysis, and behavioral health services.
- Increased staff training requirements – Employees (full-time and contractual) and volunteers must receive training in communication, resident rights, caring for patients with dementia, and other areas.
- Increased visitation – Residents can now accept visitors at any time of day.
- Abuse prevention – Nursing homes are prohibited from employing licensed individuals with disciplinary actions, they must provide abuse prevention training to all staff members, and they must report a suspected crime to law enforcement officials.
- Expedited care plans – Under previous regulations, nursing homes had up to 21 days to develop an initial care plan for their residents; now, initial care plans must be created within 48 hours.
- Preventing nursing homes from “dumping” residents in hospitals – If a resident is taken to a hospital and the nursing home denies them re-entry into their facility, the resident has an immediate right to appeal.
- Protecting against forced arbitration – Nursing homes cannot send residents into private arbitration as a result of claims of substandard care, neglect, or abuse.
Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities should keep these newer regulations in mind, particularly when hiring staff members. All prospective employees should be required to pass a background inspection prior to being hired, and facilities should take additional measures to ensure that their current employees are not exploiting their residents. Facilities should establish increased security measures to keep an eye on their staff members, there should be a system for residents or employees to report a crime or suspected crime, and a detailed inventory should be taken of personal and communal objects to reduce the risk of theft.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at 317.575.4440.