Last June, a joint report by USA Today and the Boston Globe revealed that the Veteran’s Administration has a secret nursing home ratings system that hides their poor quality of care from the public. It turns out that, while the VA was telling prospective residents and their families how good the care was in their facilities, nearly half (60 out of 133 VA facilities rated) received the agency’s lowest possible rating of one star out of five. In addition, more than 100 of these facilities scored worse than private nursing facilities on a majority of indicators. The VA only made the ratings public after receiving repeated questions from the news agencies about all their secrecy.
A follow up report published by USA Today and the Boston Globe this week revealed widespread incidents of bed sores, neglect, and alleged abuse at many of the VA’s low-rated nursing homes. 11 of the 60 lowest-rated facilities also received one-star ratings for surprise inspections conducted earlier this year. These inspections uncovered some very disturbing conditions that our honorable veterans are being forced to live under.
Nursing home neglect and abuse is a growing problem in both public and privately-run facilities throughout the country. Aging demographics, industry consolidation, and a shortage of caregivers has made it increasingly difficult to hire adequate staff for these facilities to provide the level of care our elderly loved ones need and deserve.
Neglect and abuse of the most vulnerable in our society is an outrage, and it should not be tolerated at any facility. That said, it is especially infuriating to find out that those who gave so much of themselves to secure our freedom are receiving a far lower quality of care than residents of private nursing homes.
One of those interviewed for the story expressed his frustrations about having to keep his dad in a VA – run facility, “If I won the lottery, I would take my father out of there.” The man went on to say that moving his father to a higher quality nursing facility was simply not affordable. This is the general sentiment of most of those who do not have the money to move their loved ones from the nursing home they are living in.
Veterans and Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home neglect and abuse can take many forms. Inadequate staffing, poorly trained staff, and in some cases, poorly screened employees who are abusive has created a culture of substandard care in many of America’s nursing homes. This makes patients more susceptible to issues such as:
- Bed Sores
- Lack of Adequate Medical Care
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Wrongful Death
While all nursing home residents are at risk of experiencing these types of issues, certain factors make veterans more susceptible. These include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Many veterans, especially those who have served in combat, suffer from PTSD. This can cause them to experience hallucinations and mood swings that are more difficult for staff to deal with. Sadly, many nursing home employees feel justified in abusing veterans in retaliation for displaying the symptoms of PTSD.
- Substance Abuse: Veterans with PTSD often turn to alcohol or drugs to help cope with their condition. This can inhibit the cognitive function of veteran nursing home patients who are dealing with this problem, making nursing home abuse more likely. Among the overall veteran population, it is estimated that one out of 15 has a substance abuse problem.
- Physical Disabilities: Veterans who were wounded during combat often develop physical disabilities (related to their wounds) that worsen as they age. This makes them more vulnerable to various types of neglect and abuse.
What can I do If my Loved One is Being Abused?
If you have an aging family member or someone close to you who you suspect is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, you do not have to allow this to continue. If your loved one is a victim of neglect or abuse, report it immediately and take steps to get them into a safer environment. Next, speak with a skilled personal injury lawyer. You may have the right to take legal action against those who are responsible for these egregious actions. This is an important step, because we must do everything possible to ensure that these facilities stop mistreating our elderly loved ones.
At The APEX Law Firm, LLC, we are committed to strongly advocating for the rights and interests of those who have experienced neglect or abuse in nursing homes, especially our veterans. We are veterans ourselves, and we understand the unique issues they often have to deal with. Our lawyers have in-depth knowledge of the complexities of cases involving agencies such as the VA, and we know what it takes to secure successful outcomes against even the most well-funded adversaries.
For a consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys, call us at (860) 900-0900, visit our Hartford County office in person, or send us a message for a free case evaluation.