Assisted Living Facilities Getting Away with Abuse and Neglect of Vulnerable Elderly

According to the Miami Herald,  safeguards once hailed as the most progressive in the nation have been ignored in a string of tragedies never before revealed to the public.The tragedies include blatant neglect and abuse of residents of the State's many assisted living facilities. The incidents highlight a breakdown in the state enforcement system that has left thousands of elderly and mentally handicapped individuals to fend for themselves in dangerous and filthy conditions.

The Miami Herald found that the Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees the state’s 2,850 assisted-living facilities, has failed to monitor and investigate dangerous practices or shut down the worst offenders. In one case AHCA agents were forced to end their inspection of an assisted living facility in 2008 because of threats by the owner. When the agency returned to the facility eight months later,  they found four inches of dirt on the floor of a dorm room and six residents drugged on tranquilizers without doctors’ orders.

The Miami Herald found in a year long investigation, that as the number of assisted-living facilities grew to make room for the booming elderly population, the state failed to protect the people it was meant to serve. Homes with over 100 violations are being permitted to remain open.

The state Department of Elder Affairs ombudsman program is uncovering more cases of abuse and neglect than it has seen in the last three decades, with numbers doubling in the past five years. Though the ombudsman send their findings to AHCA, regulators failed to investigate the most of the reports. In fact, a state audit in 2008 found that AHCA could not locate two-thirds of the complaints they received. For the full story, click here.

Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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