Nursing home abuse is a serious and underreported issue. According to the National Council on Aging, one in 10 seniors is abused every year; however, it’s estimated that only every one in 23 cases is reported. The lack of reporting happens because victims often refrain from reporting incidents out of feelings of fear or guilt.
In order to stop instances of nursing home abuse, the government has a number of nursing home regulations in place. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has a number of programs that strive to identify nursing home abuse and protect elders. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, it’s important to understand what the government is doing to protect them, so you can take legal action in the event their rights are violated.
Federal Nursing Home Regulations
There are two primary federal nursing home and elder regulations. The Nursing Home Reform Act, which was implemented in 1987 as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, states that nursing home residents are entitled to a basic set of rights. Those rights protect the residents’ privacy, medical needs, dignity, and individuality.
The second regulation, the Elder Justice Act, was signed into law in 2010 as a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It applies to seniors 60 years of age or older. Its primary objective is to coordinate a response to elder abuse across federal and state agencies. As a result of this act, the Elder Justice Coordinating Council and Advisory Board on Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation were established. Additionally, long-term care facilities are required to immediately report crimes and there are penalties for the facilities that don’t.
Elder Justice Programs
The HHS, in conjunction with the Administration for Community Living and the Administration on Aging, has the following systems and programs in place to encourage elder justice, prevent abuse, and support elders who have been abused:
Adult Protective Services Technical Assistance Resource Center
The mission of APS TARC is to enhance APS programs by supporting the use of data and analytics, research and evaluation, and innovative practices. They focus on the overall development of APS systems. These systems serve older adults and adults with disabilities who need help because of abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or financial exploitation.
National Center on Law & Elder Rights
The NCLER focuses on the legal rights of older adults. They provide webcasts, trainings, written materials, and case consultations in order to protect elders with the greatest economic and social needs. In addition to providing legal training, they provide technical assistance to improve legal services development, practice tips and insight on emerging legal issues relevant to older adults, and free case consultations for attorneys seeking to help seniors.
National Center on Elder Abuse
The NCEA works to improve the national response to elder abuse and neglect through research, practice, policy, and education. They have three objectives:
- To increase the rates at which elder abuse is identified and reported by providing educational resources that serve older adults and professionals
- To improve the ability of those working in nursing homes, hospitals, and care facilities to detect, intervene, and prevent abuse by providing practical tools and technical assistance
- To implement system changes through programs, models, and initiatives that decrease instances of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation
In order to meet those objects, the center simplifies high-quality research on elder abuse, provides advice and resources to professionals, families, and elder advocates, evaluates and informs policy development concerning older adults, and provides training and awareness materials to help people identify and prevent nursing home abuse.
National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System
The NAMRS collects data from APS systems to provide consistent and factual data on the maltreatment of seniors and adults with disabilities on a national level. There are three components to this system: agency component, case component, and key indicators component. The agency component includes the policies and practices of all registered agencies that provide assistance or care to seniors. The case component includes data on client characteristic, services, and perpetrator characteristics. The key indicator component includes data on investigations and victims.
Even with the government’s regulations and programs, a staggering number of elders are abused in long-term care facilities every year. When your loved one’s federal or state rights have been violated, taking legal action on their behalf is often the best way to help them recover and hold the negligent nursing home accountable for their actions. To learn more about the benefits of filing a personal injury claim, schedule a free consultation with our law firm today.