Making the decision to place a family member in a long-term care facility can be scary because it requires such a high level of trust in the staff and management at the home. In addition, there are many factors to consider when choosing a nursing home for a loved one, such as a facility's cleanliness, the happiness of its residents, its history with incident and accident reports, past violations, its cost, and the types of services and accommodations that they provide to their residents. It can be overwhelming to try and evaluate all of these aspects of a home, but doing so will help ensure that your loved one has a caring environment free from neglect and abuse.
In the District of Columbia, the Department of Health regulates nursing homes in DC and publishes reports on nursing homes after they have been inspected and evaluated by this regulatory agency. Alternatively, many websites offer services which compare nursing home reviews and promise to provide comprehensive information on the quality of long-term care facilities in the district. However, in order to get a feel for the quality of care provided by each nursing home, it is always best to visit the facility and ask as many questions as possible.
Nursing Homes in Washington DC
As with any state or district across the country, nursing home abuse and neglect are a present danger to the elderly and infirm, some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Some local DC issues with nursing homes are outlined below to provide you with information as you evaluate nursing homes in the city.
CRE Bacteria in DC Nursing Homes
In the summer of 2017, the bacteria Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) reached a prevalence rate of 5.2% in healthcare facilities in Washington DC. The bacteria “can cause a fever, rapid pulse, targeted pain or infections,” and is resistant to most antibiotics. High rates of CRE indicate the possibility for high levels of disease within a community.
The rate of CRE was determined by taking over a thousand tests from six healthcare facilities in the city, including five skilled nursing facilities. One of the principal investigators in the study and doctor of infectious diseases noted that "CRE is a significant clinical and public health concern, with a potential for widespread and rapid transmission within and between facilities.” Checking potential nursing home's history with all kinds of infectious disease and their response can give you an indication as to their safety and sanitariness.
Cost of DC Nursing Homes
One major consideration when choosing a nursing home for a loved one is its cost. Unfortunately, in Washington DC, the cost of providing long-term nursing care for residents can be extremely high in comparison to other places in the country. In fact, nursing home residential cost in DC is one of the highest in the United States, and these costs are rising at a rate twice as fast as they are around the country. Currently, the national average for a year in an assisted living facility is $39,135, while in DC that number is $52,500. For a private room in a nursing home, on average an American family will spend $77,745, while in DC families spend around $108,000. These numbers were accrued in 2011, when DC nursing home costs were rising, on average, 10.19% per year. Around the country, nursing home costs were rising only 4.4% per year.
To balance this out slightly, average income in DC is significantly higher in comparison with other states and jurisdictions. For this reason, a study conducted by the AARP on US citizens over the age of 65 found that DC residents generally pay 50 cents of every dollar of income they receive on home care. The average amount paid per dollar is 80 cents. However, “on average, a year in a nursing home costs an average family more than twice their annual income.”
Suing for Disability Provisions
In 2010, disability advocates filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia for failing to provide services to hundreds of disabled D.C. residents who were subsequently forced to reside in nursing homes against their wishes. According to the lawsuit, more than 500 individuals had been unnecessarily confined to nursing homes. These individuals had to ask their nursing home to leave and pursue their normal, everyday activities, even though they did not require the extent of care that a nursing home provides.
Rather, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), most of these individuals should have received alternative services at their home that would help support them: “The lawsuit alleges that the District has failed to provide in-home help with bathing, dressing, transferring people in and out of wheelchairs, and other activities - although such services cost much less than the $60,000 annual price tag of nursing home care, and most of the services are funded under Medicaid.”
These services would allow the individuals to live independently, and failing to provide them is a violation of the ADA. Disability advocates involved in the case believe that putting adults with disabilities into nursing homes is a form of unnecessary segregation, removing them from public life without sufficient need. Rather, they hope that services will support people as they transition back into communities.
Protecting Washington DC Nursing Home Residents
If you believe that a loved one may be experiencing abuse or neglect in a DC nursing home, it may be time to take action. While some forms of abuse may be difficult to catch or hard to prove without the help of an attorney, their effects can still be drastic and long lasting. Ending abuse as quickly as possible and punishing those responsible is often the only way to begin the process of healing. A private attorney can swiftly launch an investigation around your allegations of abuse and uncover evidence that may support your case. For a free consultation on your case, contact Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian today at 800.529.6162 or contact them online.