Nursing Home, Assisted Living & Home Health Care Abuse: Why It Occurs

Instances of nursing home abuse, assisted living abuse or home health care abuse against the elderly and dependent population happen more frequently than most of us think. Injuries can be the result of abuse or neglect and the families and friends of victims are often shocked when they discover that their senior or dependent loved one was the recipient. The best way to avoid it requires an understanding of why it occurs in the first place.

Profits come before patients

J. Niley Dorit, a California nursing home abuse lawyer explained that profits often come before patients. He told us, “As the population of the country ages, we’re seeing larger numbers of people needing custodial care. The operators of assisted living facilities sometimes have little or no experience. Employees are underpaid or under trained in order to enhance profits.”

“We’re seeing facility supervisors and administrators on site that just don’t have the time, or aren’t paid well enough, to be trained to know how to comprehensively supervise a facility. In these situations, you end up having a series of mistakes beginning at bedsides and going straight to the administrator where there are repeated problems that simply are not addressed. That’s where serious injuries can occur.”

Changing the system – one case at a time

Dorit’s told us that he hopes that his work with senior abuse and dependent abuse today can prevent abuse tomorrow. He explained, “The enforcement of minimum standards to protect people who are in those facilities is emerging as a very important function. I view the cases as important to the individuals and families that I represent, but also try and help make California a better and safer place. Hopefully, the results that we have in our cases are beneficial not only for us and our clients, but also will help prevent somebody down the road from having something terrible happen to them – and if we can prevent that, it is very satisfying.”

“I’m proud to be part of that function and am not embarrassed to say I do make an income doing that because it is something that can help the State of California in terms of enforcing minimum standards and can help individuals and families.”

What to do if you suspect mistreatment

Dorit provided the following advice to consumers who suspect that a loved one is being mistreated at an elder or dependent care facility:

  • Don’t rely on the fact that the facility may look beautiful, have well-manicured lawns or nice art on the wall. The most important aspects are whether the staff pays attention to the residents and are diligent about watching them. If they see a problem, report it to whoever is caring for the person and to the administrator of the facility in order to have the issue resolved immediately.
  • If there is an event that results in injury, or if there is a series or pattern of problems that has developed that’s not addressed by the facility, then I think it would be appropriate to contact an attorney who can then start an investigation by themselves or in conjunction with the State.