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Delaware noted for nursing home deficiencies

On behalf of Gary Nitsche

Virtually every American has or knows someone who has a family member in a nursing home or assisted living facility. As our nation's population ages, it is estimated that the number of residents in nursing homes will grow by 40 percent over the next 10 years.

Whether it is your spouse, parent, grandparent or other loved one, if you have a family member in a care facility, you will want to exercise extreme vigilance to ensure that they are safe and receiving the care that they deserve and that you want for them.

Abuse and neglect on the part of caregivers and medical staff can result in serious nursing home injuries. The non-profit group Families for Better Care recently ranked Delaware 14 out of all states and the District of Columbia for its care of senior citizens in nursing home. However, despite an overall "B" grade, the state did receive an "F" rating in an area, notably for having severe deficiences noted in more than 28 percent of its facilities statewide. That rating is the second worst in the mid-Atlantic region. Additionally, over 88 percent of the state's facilities have deficiencies according to the report by Families for Better Care. Another report rated 29 nursing homes in New Castle County. A total of 11 facilities received zero to three stars, out of a possible five stars.

Every injury can be serious

Residents of nursing homes are often unable to advocate for themselves. Every injury or instance of neglect can lead to serious consequences as well as emotional trauma for family members. All too often, injuries, neglect or abuse sustained while in a nursing home, ends up in a wrongful death situation.

A Kaiser Family Foundation report based on 2011 data provided details about the nature of complaints against Delaware nursing homes. Key findings included:

  • More than 71 percent related to overall quality of care
  • Nearly 70 percent involved infection control
  • 67.4 percent related to a potential accident environment
  • 58.7 percent involved food sanitation
  • Nearly 55 percent involved deficiencies in care planning

Complaints related to human dignity, medications and the keeping of proper clinical records were all noted in at least 41 percent of instances.

How to protect your elderly loved o ne

If you become aware of potential nursing home abuse, you should document as much information as possible. Note the dates and times of all activities of staff, yourself and your resident family member.

Most of all, do not delay. Take action immediately and do not hesitate to speak to an attorney experienced in elder abuse and neglect. The life and health of your family member may depend upon your prompt actions.

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