Earlier this year, a resident manager was terminated from a retirement facility in Ohio for filing a complaint that the facility had improperly handled a case of bedbug infestation. While the termination of the whistleblower leads to a whole new employee litigation matter, it brought more attention to the possible unsafe conditions in residential care homes for the elderly nationwide.
Nursing home and resident care facilities are cited on a regular basis for incidents that cover a broad scope of issues, from heat-related citations from improperly-maintained heating and cooling systems, to food poisoning from poor preparation and cooking, to the above bedbug infestation. Severe bedbug infestation, while not something we usually think about (after all, bed bugs and micro bugs are everywhere), could become exhaustive, both emotionally and financially, to the resident and to the care home itself. Bedbug infestation can occur in small living quarters, quarters that are too close together, and in rooms with excessive clutter. The bugs hatch and are transported from one item to another; the closer the items are, the better for the bedbug habitat. Some care homes are overloaded with patients, and the ratio of patient to caregivers can err on the side of the care facility as they strive to meet marketing and capacity numbers. As a result, practices for cleanliness can be overlooked, especially when staff turnover is high and training is not provided.
If your elder is in a care facility, you may find yourself asking about safety and cleanliness routines. As a standard practice, sheets should be washed in high temperature water. Beds should be surrounded by metal instead of wood encasings. Some homes may allow a resident to keep an original mattress, instead of using a mattress that has been used over and over by other residents. Care facilities have an obligation to provide safe and clean conditions for their residents, but often find themselves at fault for not paying attention to these guidelines, and it may be up to us to ensure that our elder is being cared for in the best way.
If your loved one has been neglected or abused in an elder care facility or residential care home, or is suffering from distress regarding the living conditions in that home, you may find it difficult to obtain the information needed to pursue a lawsuit. You may not have the right tools for gathering information, and discover that enlisting the cooperation of the care facility is challenging, at best. When you are ready to move forward we are here to help you and your loved one settle your case and put your mind at rest. Feeling comforted at a home away from home will ease the minds of you, your resident and the rest of your family.