With almost 17,000 nursing homes in the U.S. which nearly 1.6 million elderly folk call home, nearly one-third of them have been cited for nursing home abuse such as injuries, death and even elder sexual abuse cases.
Nursing home abuse statistics and crimes against elderly persons are expected to rise as the increase of residents entering long term care facilities are expected to grow to about 5 million by the year 2040 and about 6.6 million by the year 2050. A number that is quadruple to what it is now, according to the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Government Reform - Minority Office.
The reason for the expected increase of nursing home violence towards residents, based on current trends according to government statistics, one in four facilities are cited every year for causing serious injury or even death to their patients!
The federal government keeps an inspection database of facilities nationwide which records care home abuse. More than 1,000 homes were cited in 2006 for employing nursing facility staff with a history of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Although the nursing home industry will agree that there is a need for better and more complete background checks, they will disagree that elder abuse in nursing homes or other crimes against elderly persons are common in care homes across the country.
However, government reports will differ.
State inspection records requested by Representative Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, found that 5,283 elderly care facilities were cited for nursing home neglect and other nursing home assault in criminal activities toward the elderly such as kicking, punching, and choking by staff members or other residents. From a two year period from January 1999 to January 2001, there were 9,000 violations cited that caused harm.
This was over 30 percent of the care facilities in the United States. Over 2,500 of those criminal acts were serious enough to cause hurt or to cause enough physical damage to place the victims in jeopardy of death and other serious injuries.
The report states that the abuse was verbal, physical as well as sexual.
With the trends of the increasing number of residents to enter elder care homes on the rise, the nursing home abuse reports are expected to continue to rise. The reason being is that more than twice the number of facilities were cited for abuse in 2000 than were four years prior. In 1996, 5.9 percent of facilities were for violations during annual inspections and that number nearly tripled in 2000, with 16 percent of homes cited.
Reports show that there are thousands upon thousands of abuse cases yearly and investigators believe many violations go undetected or are simply not reported, leading federal regulators to believe the problem is underestimated.
Further findings also show:
Over 3,800 violations, more than 40 percent were reported only after formal complaints from residents, family members or community advocates.
Furthermore, 1,327 facilities were cited for more than one violation in a two year period. 305 were cited for three or more violations and 192 were cited for 5 or more violations.
According to the National Academy of Sciences Panel to Review Risk and Prevalence of Elder Abuse and Neglect, causes of care homes abuse are staff burnout, lack of proper staff training and stressful working conditions and staff shortages.
Overall, Representative Waxman said the majority of long term care facilities in our country is excellent. According to the President of the American Health Care Association (AHCA), which is a care home trade group representing 12,000 nonprofit and for-profit centers and homes for the elderly and disabled, Charles H. Roadman II, says there are people everyday working hard to provide quality care through nursing facility services.
However, Waxman supports a federal law to boost facility spending, however he also supports a plan which requires background checks on staff to impose stricter standards on homes with violations. The Boren amendment would guarantee that care facilities across the nation do much better at screening, training and counseling staff to care the seniors in the assisted living facilities.
If you or a loved has experienced or witnessed nursing home abuse, you can call the protective services agency where the elder resides. Some states even have a toll free hotline and many states have online directories which list local reporting numbers.
There is a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, available at the national Eldercare Locator. Call toll free 1-800-677-1116. Assistance is available Monday through Friday 9am to 8pm (except U.S. holidays).
You can also find the hotline numbers to each state at:
Attorneys are available through your local directory should you need help with nursing home abuse law in your state.
To help you select the best long term care facility in your area, you can research our database where we rank every facility across the United States!
Avoid nursing homes abuse and don't become another statistic of nursing home violence.