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Nursing Home Abuse: The “Unprotected” Investigation

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In September 2019, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a three-part investigation into nursing home abuse in the private-pay sector. The AJC collected and analyzed thousands of documents covering the years 2015 through 2018 for homes with at least 25 beds. These documents included the Department of Community Health inspection reports, as well as Georgia’s database of fines and enforcement procedures against those homes.

Nursing Homes Understaffed

One of the problems that the study uncovered is that nursing homes are significantly understaffed, leading to nursing home abuse. In one example, a home in Savannah had only two staff workers to care for 28 residents, leading to a resident at risk of choking on her food falling asleep while eating, face down on the table. At another, in Canton, a resident was supposed to have a two-person assist to move, but only one staffer was available to help. That shortage resulted in the resident suffering two fractures. In yet another example, in Dunwoody, a resident fell asleep on a commode and suffered a head injury. The caregiver could not lift the resident for an hour until the caregiver got help.

Low Pay for Nursing Home Caregivers

The low pay for nursing home caregivers, of $10 to $12 per hour, also can lead to nursing home abuse. Minimal training is required, and it is on the job, including CPR, controlling infections and dealing with dementia. Caregivers often leave employment at nursing homes for higher-paying jobs. Yet nursing home residents pay thousands of dollars per month, including one facility that charged $6,800.

Poor Quality of Some Caregivers

The low pay can result in hiring people who clearly are not responsible enough to be caregivers. At one facility, a caregiver called her supervisor to report that she was alone because the other two caregivers had gone clubbing. Others are likely to commit nursing home abuse. In one case, a home hired a man who instilled fear in the residents of the nursing home. There were many “red flags” around the man, but he kept his job. One night, he became impatient with a resident and literally beat him to death. 

Protect Your Loved Ones

When making the decision to move a loved one to a nursing home, you should dig deeper into the circumstances of that particular home to avoid nursing home abuse. A good place to start is the facility search page maintained by the AJC. Another place to look is court records to see which homes have been sued for negligence or wrongful death. A nursing home abuse attorney at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers can help you with that search.

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