Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Reporting Neglect or Abuse

Standards in Long Term Care Facilities. What are they? Who makes them? Who administers them and most of all, who do you go to if you suspect neglect and/or abuse?

Where to research Long Term Care requirements, standards, systems and procedures, some suggestions:

Federal Regulations
State Regulations
Health Codes -- Federal, State, Local
Building and Maintenance Codes -- Local 
Professional Accreditation Agencies for medical and service providers of Seniors

What is neglect? How far should you let a situation go before you take action outside of a facility? Where should you go?

Neglect is a failure to provide a service or ensure the safety and well being of an individual that falls outside of or below established standards or affects the individual's personal level of service expectations and may endanger their health or well being -- my definition gathered from various laws and writings on the subject.

The challenge for all of us is raising the bar on these standards as some are so vague or so low as to allow neglect and abuse to not only happen but to escalate and cause increasing incidents of accidents and even death.

What is abuse? What's the difference between neglect and abuse? 

Abuse is legally defined as well as socially defined. It involves taking advantage of another human being for personal or other benefit.

Abuse is usually covered by Federal and State Statues. 

Unfortunately, the Statutes are also general, broad and leave a great deal open to interpretation.

Sadly, it takes money and time to pursue litigation and residents of Long Term Care generally have neither.

Who can report neglect or abuse?  ANYONE.

Where can you report neglect or abuse?  There are not for profit agencies and government agencies. 

The effectiveness of each one depends on the individuals administering agencies, departments and even those who are assigned to a "case" or to follow up on a request or concern.

Can you "see" neglect and abuse?  SOMETIMES it's right in front of your eyes or you see something you believe might be abuse or neglect. SOMETIMES it's hidden in actions and words that appear to be "helpful" but are actually demeaning, demoralizing and destructive to the individual. 

Look carefully, listen closely and remember, above all, these are adult human beings who may have challenges physically, emotionally or mentally but still have feelings and retain individual rights to respect, dignity and consideration.

Neglect is often due to poor or lack of training and information, lack of time or amount of staff, burned out or uncaring individuals or a facility that does not effectively monitor, evaluate and completely inform staff through access to accurate and current information on physical, emotional and mental conditions of residents. 

Another cause is based on finances -- either the need or desire to "save money" spent on care for residents to increase the bottom line or to stay in business -- both cause more problems for society.

Abuse is continual disregard for the individual and actions, words or deeds that cause the perpetrator to supercede the individual rights of the person for their own wants and needs.

What can we do?  Share our concerns publicly.  

We're concerned about who comes into our home to do repairs, where the best buys for travel and even for household cleaning items are located but we do not establish a rating system, a reference point for Long Term Care Facilties.

An unbiased, open forum type gathering of information where real people voice concerns and concerns are grouped into categories for easy reference. Anyone want to start one?

I do not see the "Star Rating System" now used by the Government as valid, valuable or even useful as it relies on information gathered from State Inspections. 

Society has a basis of needing these institutions to continue to provide care, stay open because closing them would add costs of relocation and alerting the general public to the real challenges inside these closed doors but we don't get real, accurate and measureable information.

What are you willing to do to ensure the safety and well being of the men and women who rely on us, you and me, to protect and defend them as they did as parents, citizens and serving in Wars for our well being and safety.

What will you do today for those in need and possibly for your future self?

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