Urgent Need for Effective Oversight to Counter Persistent Abuse and Neglect of Nursing Home Residents
U.S. nursing homes provide essential care, support services and homes to approximately 1.3 million people every day. In fact, 40% of Americans who reach age 65 will need nursing home care at some point. Given that most of these individuals are highly vulnerable and dependent on their nursing homes for necessary care and services, and that a majority of these services are paid for by the public through Medicare or Medicaid, the quality of nursing home care and the safety of residents is of critical public interest. It is for these reasons that, 30 years ago, Congress passed and President Reagan signed into law the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act. The Reform Law established standards toensure that every resident receives decent care and is able to live with dignity.
Unfortunately, though there have been improvements in nursing home care since passage of the Reform Law, abuse, neglect and substandard care persist. Too often, there is little accountability when residents are harmed – or even die – because the care they received was substandard. Qualityof life standards – which provide for basic human dignity and respect – are, too often, ignored with impunity.
That is why we, as advocates for nursing home residents, are deeply troubled by recent nursing home industry efforts to delay and undermine implementation of vital safety standards. We are especially dismayed by claims that the nursing home industry is facing a “spike” in enforcement actions. In fact,both empirical and anecdotal evidence indicate that this is a gross mischaracterization which beliesthe true conditions that too many residents and families face.
Following are highlights from the substantial body of evidence supporting the need for stronger – not
weaker – accountability for nursing home resident safety, care and dignity.
Richard Mollot, Executive Director
Long Term Care Community Coalition
Lori Smetanka, Executive Director
Robyn Grant, Director of Public Policy &
National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-
Toby Edelman, Senior Policy Attorney
Center for Medicare Advocacy
Patricia McGinnis, Executive Director
Michael Connors, Advocate
Janet Wells, Public Policy Consultant
California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform
Peck Law Group, APC
Nursing Home & Abuse Lawyers
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.