Nursing home abuse is a significant problem with very serious consequences to seniors. Unfortunately, abuse is very common because nursing homes often are understaffed and are besieged by a number of problems which make providing appropriate care impossible.
Planning ahead in case you need to go into a nursing home can sometimes help you to avoid nursing home abuse or neglect because you can do research into the quality of the home.
Unfortunately, even the best nursing homes can have staff members who commit abuses. You cannot count on the nursing home research you do to necessarily ensure you or your loved one is safe from harm as a nursing home resident.
Under pending new legislation reported on by the Boston Globe, hopefully the consequences when these complaints are made will soon be becoming more severe.
Massachusetts Lawmakers Proposing New Bills to Fight Nursing Home Abuse
According to the Boston Globe, lawmakers in Massachusetts moved to tighten the penalties for nursing homes who fail their patients. The senators voted to raise the maximum fines on nursing homes which are in violation of health and safety regulations. Currently, the maximum fines are just $50 per day. The new law would raise the maximum fine to $10,000 per day, which is a very substantial increase. Regulators would also be given the power to scrutinize the financial situations of nursing homes if the new bill is signed into law.
The Office of the Governor appeared to signal support for the new Massachusetts law passed by the senate, stating that it was “consistent with our ongoing efforts to improve nursing home quality and oversight to keep our elders safe and thriving in every community across the commonwealth.”
The law was passed by the senate in the wake of reports that out-of-state nursing home chains are not providing an appropriate living environment when opening up homes in Massachusetts. These national nursing home conglomerates are running facilities which are short-staffed and in which patients are not able to receive an acceptable level of care.
In one case, a nursing home run by an out-of-state chain was found to bear responsibility for two patient deaths and the facility was fined $288,400 by federal regulators. Research has shown some of the executives running these facilities pay themselves salaries of more than $1 million a year, while the homes spend less on patient care than their nonprofit counterparts.
If the law passes, the higher fines which are collected from nursing homes which are engaging in abusive practices will be used towards increasing state inspections of nursing home facilities. Money from the larger fines will also be used to help relocate residents when facilities close.
Unfortunately, when and if a nursing home has to be shut down because of abuse or neglect, it is often the residents who suffer again as they are moved from their community and may struggle to find a new place to live. According to the Boston Globe, “Regulators have said they are hesitant to close violation-riddled nursing homes because of the potential upheaval such an action would visit upon frail residents.”
The money collected from the higher fines can help to ease this process so nursing homes which are repeatedly violating guidelines and standards can be closed without as much risk of damaging patients further.
Whether the new bill passes or not, nursing home abuse is still illegal. Nursing homes should be held accountable if staff members engage in wrongful behavior or if the nursing home has policies in place which contribute to neglect.
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