Grandma and Grandchild

Our elderly population should be respected and cared for. As the needs of the elderly become too much for themselves or loved ones to handle, families rely on the care of professionals. Families trust nursing homes, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities with their most treasured possession: a loved one. Upon admission, residents and their families envision a place to improve quality of life, engage in enjoyable actives, and meet new friends.

Unfortunately, that wonderful vision is not always the reality. Instead, residencies are too often riddled with falls, wounds, infections, poor nutrition, dehydration, illnesses, depression, anxiety and unexplained injuries. What should be a place to thrive, can instead be a road to reduced quality of life and even death through sub-par care. Inadequate staff, insufficient budget, poor training, and deficient policies and procedures are generally the hallmarks of sub-standard care.

In Arizona, neglect means: a pattern of conduct without the person’s informed consent resulting in deprivation of food, water, medicine, medical services, cooling, heating or other services necessary to maintain minimum physical or mental health. Far too often the ground level employees are doing the best they can with the resources they have, and it is management and other decision-makers to blame for poor conditions in the facility. Abuse in Arizona means any of the following: 1) Intentional infliction of physical harm; 2) Injury caused by negligence; 3) Unreasonable confinement; or 4) Sexual abuse or assault.

At a minimum, every resident should have an appropriate care plan in place to meet his or her needs and staff should execute the care plan in all aspects, communicating regularly with the resident’s physicians. Care plans should include sufficient prevention interventions to avoid serious problems like falls, wounds and infection. Changes of condition should be monitored, reported and treated timely.

If you suspect a loved one has received care that falls below basic medical and legal standards, it is important to get help right away.  There are several ways to report abuse in Arizona using the Speak UP website.