When news of the COVID-19 outbreak circulated, older individuals were considered to be in one of the highest risk groups. Sadly, stories emerged early on about multiple victims perishing in the same nursing homes from the virus. Today, Californians are cautiously moving into a phased reopening as infection rates appear to be more stable. However, not everyone is breathing a sigh of relief. Skilled nursing and assisted living facilities remain watchful for signs of infection and continue to exclude visitors. If you have a friend or loved one living under these conditions, you will want to know: Is my loved one safe in a nursing home right now?
California Nursing Homes
The California Department of Public Health has data on COVID-19 infection rates in the state’s skilled nursing facilities that are updated daily. The most recent information reflects that out of the 1,223 facilities reporting, 11,431 residents have been infected and that there have been 2,154 COVID-related resident deaths. The data also reveals that there have been 6,943 positive health care worker cases and that 82 workers have died from the virus. The information is searchable by facility and county.
Concerns About Oversight
One of the main concerns since the outbreak is that there has been a lack of oversight due to family members, loved ones, and other outside individuals being excluded from the skilled nursing facilities. While social and routine contact have not been permitted since March, inspectors from the California Department of Health have reportedly been onsite at facilities to oversee infection control and evaluate immediate jeopardy complaints. However, there are concerns that these inspections are not as in-depth or of the quality of those ordinarily performed by these professionals. Loved ones who are unable to see the residents are uneasy about possible neglect without anyone there to make a report. Although COVID cases have been found at higher-rated skilled nursing facilities, homes where there were already care, and quality issues are believed to be at higher risk for neglect and possible infection.
Protecting Your Loved One
For many people, not being able to go to the nursing home and observe the conditions is frustrating. If you have been devoted to your loved one’s care and are part of his or her routine, not seeing one another is difficult. Depending on your situation and your loved one’s ability to communicate, making an effort to continue your visits through video chats, phone calls, and texts consistently can help during this uncertain time. If you feel that he or she has a reliable caregiver at the facility, make regular contact with that person and ask about your loved one’s condition. You may develop concerns based on what you hear and observe during your conversations with your loved one. If you believe that there may be abuse or neglect, report your suspicions right away. You can find out more about reporting elder abuse or neglect here.
Finding the best ways to advocate for your loved one in a nursing home can be overwhelming. An experienced California Elder Law attorney can help you determine your options and next steps. At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we have the Elder Law experience you need to help you protect and advocate for your loved one’s safety and care. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation today so we can help you explore your options and start your solution.