108: Is Your Loved One Really Safe in Their Nursing Home?

It’s a scenario you’d never want to imagine — let alone experience — but it happens more often than you’d think. After doing hours and hours of research, and asking all the right questions to a list of skilled nursing facility candidates for a loved one who needs long-term care, you decided on what you believe was the best option. Later on, you come to find out that your loved one failed to receive the care they were promised and showed signs of abuse.

If you’re like many people, you may have thought that facilities like the one you chose were guided by a sense of duty to the vulnerable and dependent residents they serve. But unfortunately, skilled nursing facilities are almost invariably for-profit businesses that put a very high premium on their bottom line, sometimes to the detriment of their residents.

To find out what you can do to ensure that your loved one gets the best possible care in their nursing facility, we’re pleased to welcome Shahrad Milanfar, of Milanfar Law in Walnut Creek, who helps victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. Shahrad has substantial court-tested experience with nursing home abuse cases and takes pride in being a persistent voice for clients during litigation. His selection to the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 for 2022-23 is a testimonial to his skill and knowledge in court — both of which he continues to teach as an adjunct professor at the Golden Gate University School of Law.

In this episode, we’re going to discuss:

  • The proactive steps that family members can take to ensure that the skilled nursing facility they’ve chosen is held accountable for their loved one’s proper care.
  • The defining characteristics that nursing home neglect cases usually have.
  • Why Covid made proper skilled nursing care more challenging, and how its aftermath has made accountability easier.
  • Why claims that a skilled nursing facility resident is exhibiting “unreasonable” behavior doesn’t excuse the facility from providing sub-par care, and the specific questions you should ask if you suspect this is the case.
  • Several resources you can turn to if you suspect a loved one is showing signs of neglect or abuse.

And more!

Deciding to entrust the care of a loved one to a skilled nursing facility is a tough decision. If you have suspicions that the care they’re receiving isn’t living up to the standards that were promised — or worse, if that care amounts to outright neglect or abuse — it can be devastating! With this episode, we hope you’ll gain a better understanding of your options and how to better protect a loved one from abuse or neglect in long-term care.

Big Three from Episode #108:

  1. Many people are under the impression that most cases of nursing home abuse are either isolated instances or the result of the actions of an unstable employee who has intentionally neglected or abused patients in their care. In reality, the majority of cases stem from the people running the facility placing profit as their overriding motive.
  2. Most skilled nursing facilities are for-profit businesses. Many of them are structured as not just one entity but three, with the existing facility at the bottom of the organization and two other entities above it — one owning the land and the other positioned as a management company. This makes it easier to hide their profits if they’re subject to litigation.
  3. Moving a patient to another facility isn’t always an option when nursing home abuse or neglect is suspected. It often requires insurance approvals that aren’t easy to come by, and there isn’t an endless array of choices, to begin with, where skilled nursing facilities are concerned. In addition, when subject to litigation, these facilities sometimes defend the resident’s family’s choice to keep their elderly relative in place despite their complaints.

Time-stamped Show Notes:

0:00 Introduction

1:13 Here are some details on Shahrad’s extensive experience as a trial attorney, including his impressive accolades.

3:54 These are common types of injuries seen in nursing homes: repeated falls, bedsores, malnutrition, dehydration, sexual assault, failed evacuation plans where residents are unaccounted for, etc.

5:00 Most of these cases aren’t prompted by isolated instances. Typically, they develop over time, so it’s important for families always to be engaged.

6:09 Skilled nursing facilities are required to have resident care protocols in place, but you must also have enough people to implement them.

7:54 No two facility residents are alike in terms of their care. Staffing, training, planning, and documenting each resident’s needs are critical.

9:03 Malnutrition and dehydration are basic things that should be preventable. Families must watch for this – ask questions and be proactive.

11:10 Staffing shortages are a challenge many skilled nursing facilities face, but it isn’t an excuse for sub-par care because legal safeguards haven’t changed.

12:51 Elderly or disabled persons are a protected class under the law, so residents and their families have an obligation to make sure facilities are honoring the care they offered to provide.

13:33 Where abuse cases are concerned, we often think that a single, reprehensible employee is to blame, but really it’s the facility’s responsibility.

15:21 If you suspect that your loved one isn’t receiving proper care, Shahrad has recommendations to help you take action.

17:34 When subject to litigation, facilities often say, “Well, you didn’t move your family member to another facility.” But that solution doesn’t always work. Here’s why…

19:12 Fear of retaliation from facilities often keeps the families of many nursing care residents from playing the part of a whistleblower.

21:00 Some resources that can help if you suspect your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect include Adult Protective Services and Long-Term Care Ombudsman. Empowered Aging is the ombudsman program in Contra Costa, Solano, and Alameda counties.

22:01 There is also a nonprofit called California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform with many resources.

23:20 Some nursing care facility residents suffer from cognitive issues, making investigations difficult because the person might not understand what’s happening.

24:43 When a resident is admitted, signing an arbitration agreement makes it a near certainty that the facility will fight you in court. Don’t do it!

26:36 Smaller facilities usually provide better care for their residents versus big ones where you’re just a number on a sheet.

29:48 Q&A: Isn’t the fact that a patient has a bed sore enough evidence of neglect?

31:27 Q&A: What kind of compensation do people get for cases that involve emotional distress, pain, and suffering?

Get in Touch with Shahrad Milanfar!
Shahrad Milanfar
Milanfar Law Firm, PC Trial Attorneys
925 Ygnacio Valley Road
Suite 103C
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Email: SMilanfar@MilanfarLaw.com
Phone: 925-433-6003

Resources/Links Mentioned in this Episode:

  • California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform can be reached at: 415-974-5171 or via their website at http://www.canhr.org.
  • Empowered Aging and their Ombudsman Program for Contra County, Alameda, and Solano Counties, can be reached at 925-685-2070, by emailing info@empoweredaging.org or via their website: https://EmpoweredAging.org.
  • Absolute Trust Talk Episode 13: Nicole is executive director of Ombudsman Services of Contra Costa and Solano Counties and is responsible for ensuring that the 13,000 residents of long-term care in her community have access to the highest level of care and respect and, above all, can live free of abuse and neglect. She joins us in the studio to talk about how the Ombudsman Program came to be and their work to connect with older adults and help them live their best lives. https://absolutetrustcounsel.com/030-how-ombudsman-services-can-advocate-for-you-with-nicole-howell/
  • We’re pleased to provide you with a library of e-books to address common estate planning questions and concerns in practical, easy-to-understand language. https://AbsoluteTrustCounsel.com/Resources/.
  • ASK KIRSTEN: If you’d like Kirsten to answer your question on the air, please email her at Info@AbsoluteTrustCounsel.com.

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