The number of South Carolina adults over the age of 60 choosing institutionalized care has constantly been growing for the past few years and will continue to grow. This tendency is noticeable in Charleston County, as well. Unfortunately, the number of Charleston nursing home abuse cases has been growing as well and given the current state of facts; it is unlikely that things will change for the better.
In the US, approximately 91% of nursing homes lack the qualified staff to care for the patients, and 36% of nursing homes violate elderly abuse laws. Many of the 2,150,000 of elderly abuse cases reported every year occur in these institutions.
The South Carolina State Plan on Aging for 2017-2020 estimates that the number of adults over 60 years of age will get close to 1,500,000 by 2030. Besides the insufficient number of institutionalized care services providers, poverty could be a major issue, especially since 42% of the elders suffer from one or more disabilities requiring assistance. According to the same plan, 13.3 % of individuals aged 60 and above live in poverty, which means limited access to institutionalized care.
As if this were not enough, a study published in December 2016 ranks South Carolina last when it comes to protecting the elders against nursing home abuse. While the authorities argue against the validity of the study and its ranking criteria, it is obvious that South Carolina nursing home services could use some improvement.
Out of the 189 nursing homes the Medicare website lists for South Carolina, only 49 have an overall rating of 5 stars, some with lower ratings for staffing, health inspections, or quality measures. In Charleston, only three institutions have a 5-star overall rating, and just as many institutions have only 1-star ratings, qualifying as much below average.
In general, the lower the rating of the nursing home, the higher the risk of abuse is. Underpaid and unqualified staff members working in improper conditions are often victims of stress and depression, and more likely to mistreat others, especially elders who cannot defend themselves and, sometimes, through their mental or physical disabilities, become a source of stress themselves.
While there is no universal solution to prevent, recognize, or end nursing home abuse, there are several simple measures Charleston residents and their loved ones can take before and during admittance to the facility.
How to Prevent Charleston Nursing Home Abuse
Ideally, before committing to one of the twelve nursing homes in Charleston County, the elders and their families should look up every institution online, and gather as much information as possible about the services they provide, and the way their residents appreciate those services. This should be enough to narrow down one’s list to a couple of nursing homes, by ruling out the ones with the poorest reviews and worst living conditions.
The following step is visiting the remaining institutions. Although time is always an issue, visitors should not hurry. They should carefully observe how clean the institution and its residents are, and how the staff treats the residents. They should talk to both residents and caregivers, to learn as much as possible about what living there entails. After visiting all the institutions on their lists, they should be able to tell which place offers the best living conditions and the lowest abuse risks.
According to the law, upon admittance to Charleston nursing home, residents should receive complete information regarding the institution, the services it makes available, and the costs of those services. The elders’ guardians should receive this information as well and have a saying regarding the physician who will supervise the resident and the treatment the resident will receive. If this does not happen, the resident and their guardian should begin to worry and pay more attention to everything happening around them, perhaps even refuse admittance.
How to Recognize Charleston Nursing Home Abuse
When the nursing home residents cannot speak for themselves, it is up to their friends and relatives to notice any signs of abuse and act. Here are the most common signs of nursing home abuse:
- Frequent unexplainable injuries and accidents (falls or head injuries)
- States of fear and anxiety
- Tendency towards isolation and solitude
- Instances of wandering or elopement
- Bed sores
- High weight fluctuations
- Refusal or difficulty speaking in the presence of a staff member
- Unexpected resident death
- Improper living conditions
- Unusual, sudden changes in the residents’ behavior
- Heavy medication or sedation
- Frequent illnesses, unreported to the treating physician.
How to Confirm and Fight Charleston Nursing Home Abuse
Sometimes, some of the signs mentioned above appear without having physical or mental abuse as the main case. It is important for the resident’s guardian to confirm the abuse before filing a complaint. To do so, they can install an electronic monitoring system in the resident’s room, visit the facility unannounced, talk to other residents, monitor the resident’s bank account.
Assuming they manage to confirm the abuse, the final step would be to report it, according to the specifics of the case, and the federal or state laws broken. Since one may report abuse to several institutions, and some of them take a long time to review complaints and provide responses, it helps to hire a Charleston nursing home abuse lawyer.
The attorney will know exactly where to report the abuse and what details to include in the report, what measures to take to ensure the resident’s well being until the investigation is over. They can make sure the complaint remains anonymous or confidential, handle the paperwork, and any legal procedures or communication with the management of the nursing home.
The best part is that the resident and their loved ones have nothing to lose by consulting an attorney, since the preliminary case evaluation is usually free, and the representation costs reflect the compensation the attorney obtains for the client.
Consult with an Attorney Today About Charleston Nursing Home Abuse
If you want help confirming or reporting Charleston nursing home abuse, contact David Aylor Law Offices now and schedule a FREE case review! It is time to put an end to elder abuse, and we are here to help!
David Aylor is a Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Charleston, Walterboro, and Myrtle Beach, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 11 years. David Aylor believes in defending the accused. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.