Assisted Living Facilities

When it comes to the well-being and care of older adults, there are a number of options, depending on the varying needs. While nursing homes provide intensive, around-the-clock nursing care for frail and vulnerable patients, assisted living facilities offer an alternative that seeks promotion of self-sufficiency.

Although these patients may not require 24-7 care, those who operate the facility and provide assistance still owe a duty of care to residents. If there is a breach of this duty, they may be held liable for negligence, neglect or abuse.

The Ansara Law Firm’s Fort Lauderdale assisted living injury attorneys recognize there is no single standard for these centers, and they often vary greatly in terms of size, appearance, cost and the level of services offered.

Still, there is an expectation that individuals there will receive a certain degree of care, and at the very least, they will be free of abuse. Sadly, this does not always happen.

Why Are Assisted Living Neglect and Abuse Cases Different?

Assisted living facilities are different from nursing homes in a number of important ways, and that means the type of abuse and neglect people suffer in these settings differs also. The vulnerabilities are different.

First, it’s necessary to outline the key differences between nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

In nursing homes, residents can expect to live in a communal setting that is somewhat akin to a hospital facility. There are various wards depending on the needs (i.e., dementia ward, immobility ward, etc.), and nursing staff is assigned to make regular checks, administer medications, prepare and serve meals, bathe and groom and ensure the individual has regular medical care.

Assisted living facilities are different mostly in that it is not so intensive, though the specifics of each facility and services are widely varying.

In some cases, assisted living facilities might only offer meals, basic housekeeping and some help with everyday activities like bathing, laundry, dressing and grooming. Other facilities go far beyond that, and offer transportation to and from medical appointments and have nursing residents on staff. Some may look like small houses with just a few residents residing in different rooms, while others are large facilities with numerous buildings or apartments that house hundreds of people. Each apartment might have its own kitchen, while others might have a single, common dining area.

Although abuse and neglect is not as common in assisted living facilities as it is in nursing homes, it does occur. Because there is this degree of independence – something that is greatly valued by many of the residence – it can be harder to know when there is a problem. Warning signs of an issue can be subtler than for those in nursing homes.

As a loved one, it’s important to respect the resident’s privacy and independence, but you also need to remain vigilant. They may be vulnerable, hurting and in need of your help – but unsure or unable to express it.

Common Kinds of Assisted Living Abuse and Neglect

Abuse and neglect of assisted living facility residents can range from physical abuse to emotional tear-downs to financial exploitation and sexual assault.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates there are approximately 36,000 assisted living facilities in the U.S. that serve over 1 million residents. States establish licensing standards for these institutions, although each has taken various approaches. Still, some common patterns of problems were noted by researchers, including:

  • Insufficient care provided to residents after an accident or injury.
  • Staff that was unqualified or improperly trained.
  • Insufficient levels of staffing.
  • Failure to provide proper medications to residents.
  • Failure to store medications the right way.
  • Not following admission and discharge procedures as laid forth by state regulations.

Inadequate staff training and high staff turnover were associated with increased levels of abuse, neglect and negligence at assisted living facilities. The biggest problem it seems is that staffers don’t have adequate knowledge of residents and their individual needs.

Residents who have dementia may be at higher risk because:

  • They are at greater risk of wandering, and assisted living facilities may be less secure than nursing home facilities.
  • Dementia is sometimes associated with aggression, and staffers who are not properly trained in how to handle this may lash out or fail to effectively de-escalate the situation.

Sanitation issues can also lead to a host of problems, including an uptick in rates of serious and debilitating infections.

Call the injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm at (877) 277-3780 or locally in Broward at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties.