Every year, over 4 million Americans will be admitted to and potentially remain in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
And though these are national statistics, Pennsylvania is not immune to the growing need for care facilities, particularly among those 60 years or older. In fact, the most recent census data shows Pennsylvania as having one of the largest elderly demographics in the nation
According to the most recent Older Adults Protective Services Annual Report, PA Area Agencies on Aging received 32,253 abuse reports from 2017 to 2018. Of those, nearly three quarters were reports about elder (60 years or older) abuse or neglect, a 12.6% year over year increase. To further illustrate the severity of the problem, 73% of elder abuse reports were deemed “appropriate.”
Types of Elderly Abuse in Pennsylvania
There are many types of elder and nursing home abuse. These include physical, sexual, emotional/psychological, and financial abuse as well as neglect, either at the hand of a caregiver or self-neglect, which is when an individual can no longer carry out the daily activities required for their wellbeing.
In PA, self-neglect (38.5%), is the leading substantiated allegation. Often, it’s these individuals that will be placed in a nursing home or care facility. However, other types of abuse are also substantiated, with nearly 20% of caregiver neglect allegations proving to be substantiated. Financial Exploitation (17.7%) and physical abuse (16.3%) follow closely behind.
State-level Elder Abuse Reporting Concerns in Pennsylvania
In January 2019, the Office of State Inspector General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania released a report that investigated the PA Department of Aging, specific their efforts to monitor count-based agencies that investigate elder abuse claims. This report found the following to be true:
- Out of the cases reviewed, the Area Agencies of Aging 20% failed to conduct the proper face-to-face interviews with the victim within the required 72 hours.
- In 43% (7,859) cases, the Area Agencies on Aging did not determine if a claim was substantiated within 20 days as required by law.
- The PA Department of Aging has failed to require or provide sufficient training to staff members, specifically intake workers, caseworkers, and supervisors.
- The PA Department of Aging Protective Services Department is not adequately staffed.
Pennsylvania Nursing Home Resident Rights
Nursing home residents are allotted numerous rights under federal and state laws. In addition to state laws, nursing homes and long-term care facilities must inform patients of their rights as well as the policies and guidelines within the care facility, before they’re admitted. All residents should have the right to:
- Respect, privacy, and dignity
- Socialization and visitation
- Medical and social services
- Make informed decisions
- Participate in activities
- Be free from discrimination based on disability, race, religion, color, national origin, and age
- Be free of unnecessary restraints
- Be free from all forms of neglect and abuse
- Participate in their medical decisions
- Access all reports and information in a prompt fashion
- Fully informed of medical conditions and subsequent procedures
- Right to make complaints against staff or residents without retaliation
- Have doctors, legal guardians, family members, and legal representatives notified in the event of injury, accidents, medical issues, etc.
- Manage their finances or name a trusted guardian to do so
Consulting a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney in Pennsylvania
If you feel that your loved one has been abused or that their rights have been violated, you can contact an attorney to help you determine the next steps. This includes how to address the abuse or violation, file complaints with the authorities, and how to seek legal action and compensation.