The COVID-19 Crisis in Nursing Homes is Worse Than Ever

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on October 28, 2021 in Nursing Homes and Elder Rights
Updated on November 23, 2022

sad older female gazing out window It is by now a well-known and established fact that nursing homes across the country have been most affected by the ongoing COVID crisis. In fact, nursing home residents and staff account for approximately one-fifth of all U.S. COVID-19 deaths.

Statistically, that means about one out of every 10 nursing home residents has died from COVID since the crisis began in the first quarter of 2020. A new study has also revealed how the initial numbers reported did not include as much as 40 percent of the earliest nursing home deaths from the virus.

How the Crisis Has Impacted Every Aspect of Resident Care

The number of nursing home deaths caused by the virus is devastating. However, the damage caused by the crisis is even more far-reaching than just the death toll. It has also had a significant effect on virtually every other aspect of the industry’s already declining quality of care for the elderly.

According to the article:

  • There are fewer federal inspections of facilities, which means less monitoring of ongoing issues
  • The number of family visits to see loved ones in facilities is also down
  • Staffing shortages continue to cause significant issues in the quality of care

These three aspects alone make it possible for instances of nursing home abuse and gross negligence to occur – with little consequence to the facility or its caregivers.

Carole Herman, the founder and CEO of Foundation Aiding The Elderly (FATE), stated in a September 2021 MarketWatch report, “This COVID thing has created a nightmare, because nobody was allowed to go into the facilities, so nobody was there to protect people…nobody was going in to monitor, including inspectors. I think it’s much worse than anybody knows.”

FATE is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to fighting for elderly residents who have suffered abuse or neglect in nursing homes across the country.

Lawsuit Against California Department of Health

According to California law, all complaints filed with the Department of Health (DOH) must be investigated and a report completed within 180 days. According to the DOH’s own data, the current average for completing an investigation into a complaint is 578 days. That number is on the rise.

This information matters because even before the pandemic hit, California state regulators were receiving about 10,000 complaints – per year – of resident abuse or neglect. A nationwide study over ten years shows that approximately 10 percent of elderly residents have been subjected to some form of abuse or neglect. This study, however, did not include residents over the age of 85, yet they are some of the most vulnerable residents in nursing homes.

What Families Can Do to Protect Loved Ones in Long-Term Care

It is often difficult for nursing home residents to adequately protect themselves from potential abuse and/or negligence. Many of these elderly residents have underlying health conditions and/or declining mental health. For this reason, it may be difficult or impossible for them to communicate incidents of abuse or neglect. Even when they try to voice what has happened to them, their complaints may often be ignored because of their age, mental health or both.

Family members have the right to protect their loved ones in nursing homes, though often they may not understand what all of their rights are. If you have a family member in a nursing home or other long-term care center, you can learn more about your rights on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website.

In addition to learning more about your rights and the rights of your loved one, we recommend visiting your family member in person as often as possible.

Herman suggests being vigilant and asking questions when it comes to protecting family members in long-term care. She also recommends surprise visits to your loved one – going at any hour of the day. Visiting your loved one at varying hours and often can help to give you more insight into the quality of care he or she may be receiving.

Contact a Trusted Attorney if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

If you suspect that your loved one is being subjected to nursing home abuse or neglect, our experienced and qualified attorneys at PKSD are here to help.

We have extensive experience helping injury victims in long-term care, and we are prepared to take your call anytime, night or day. Call our law firm to schedule a free initial consultation and discuss your concerns.

Free Consultation. No Upfront Costs. 877-877-2228

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