Research shows that Georgia is last in the nation for nursing home inspections.
According to a recent news article by the Albany Herald, nearly 80 percent of the nursing homes in Georgia had gone 18 months without comprehensive inspections by the end of March 2021. This backlog of inspections has real consequences to nursing home residents and families with loved ones in senior care facilities, and it’s especially concerning considering the toll the pandemic has had on nursing homes and senior care facilities in Georgia.
More than 4,000 residents of long-term care facilities died from COVID-19 in Georgia.
Maryland and Oregon came in second to last at 76 percent. All 3 states (Georgia, Maryland and Oregon) are well above the national average of 51 percent.
These annual inspections typically occur over a period of 4 days to ensure facilities meet the required standards. Trained inspectors from the Department of Community Health (DCH) examine everything from medication delivery, food service, and wound care.
But many Georgia nursing homes have pushed back these inspections due to COVID-19. During the pandemic, they did so to keep residents, employees, and ombudsmen safe.
“I still have concerns about what’s happening inside,’’ Melanie McNeil, the state’s long-term care ombudsman, told Georgia Health News last week. “If you’re not watching, things can go badly.’’
According to a CNHI report, nursing home inspections were reduced to half-day reviews of infection control practices and staffing logs. Many of these facilities were given a “Special Focus Facility” rating for more than the 24-month maximum. This designation is typically reserved for the worst nursing homes in each state.
Long before the first COVID-19 lockdown in the United States, many nursing homes were neglecting to schedule inspections.
When asked about the lag in inspections, the DCH cited federal guidelines. It was “to prioritize COVID-related issues and immediate jeopardy complaints throughout the public health emergency.’’
What does nursing home abuse look like?
Abuse in an assisted living facility occurs when caretakers harm the residents. Sometimes this is unintentional, but it can still be considered abusive behavior whether or not negligence was on purpose. The results can lead to medical emergencies, trauma, even fatalities.
The most common types of nursing home abuse that occur in a long-term care facility are:
Bed sores are uncomfortable welts that result from improper repositioning of patients who are bedridden or in a wheelchair.
When patients don’t receive the right nutrition or become dehydrated, they can become ill or even die..
Hip fractures, broken bones, maybe even a concussion can result from a slip-and-fall. These accidents usually occur when facilities don’t take adequate prevention measures to clean up floor clutter or warn residents of a wet floor.
Giving patients the wrong prescription, dosage, or failing to properly administer the medicine can be considered nursing home abuse whether it was intentional or not.
Grabbing a resident’s arms too hard, hitting them, slapping them, or sexually abusing them are all examples of intentional nursing home abuse.
But not all abuse or neglect is physical. Sometimes it can include:
Emotional abuse. Verbally humiliating a patient by screaming or taunting them can be just as detrimental as physical abuse. Caretakers might also try to isolate patients from their loved ones, which can cause anxiety and depression.
Financial abuse. Elderly people who require long-term care can have trouble managing their money. When caretakers take advantage of this vulnerability and steal their money, this constitutes financial abuse.
There are many reasons why nursing home abuse and neglect occur, but they typically stem from unfit caregivers. Nursing home abuse is especially likely if nursing home staff aren’t properly trained, overworked, stressed or overwhelmed.
How COVID has impacted Georgia nursing homes
A shortage of staff across the globe has caused many nursing homes to suffer. Without enough qualified caregivers to help during the pandemic, the risk of nursing home abuse and neglect increases because residents aren’t able to receive the proper care they need.
In addition, many residents were effectively cut-off from their loved ones for many months due to strict quarantine measures, making it more difficult to get help when experiencing nursing abuse or neglect.
Signs of nursing home abuse
It can be easy to overlook any abuse or neglect if you don’t know what to look for. If you’re worried a loved one is suffering in a nursing home, look for these signs:
Broken and fractured bones
Bruises, burns, and welts
Cuts and lacerations
Lack of personal hygiene
Unexplained weight loss
Fatigue or insomnia
Illness or infection
Just because your loved one has one of these symptoms doesn’t automatically mean that nursing home abuse is occuring, but you might consider keeping a closer eye on their care. And if you suspect that your loved one is suffering from abuse or neglect, don’t hesitate to call a Georgia nursing home abuse lawyer today.
Why talk to a nursing home abuse attorney?
With busy schedules and dual-income families becoming the norm, it is sometimes impossible to properly care for your elderly loved one with a debilitating medical condition. Many Georgia families must rely on assisted living facilities and nursing homes to take care of their loved ones. But with so many facilities short-staffed or hiring untrained workers—not to mention the state’s backlog of recertification inspections—abuse and neglect are rampant.
With offices in Macon, Albany, and Warner Robins, the law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson want to help. We’ve represented clients in Georgia and across the Southeast in nursing home abuse cases for over 50 years.