The abuse, neglect and exploitation of this country’s elderly is appalling. Far too many aging Americans, including many here in Illinois, live a miserable existence once they reach the age where they can no longer take care of themselves. A good number of families do what they can for them, but even so, they have their own lives to get back to at some point.
This leaves many elderly nursing home residents fighting an uphill battle against a system that does not always ensure their safety. Abuse and neglect happen far too often, and Illinois legislators finally passed a law providing additional safeguards to this vulnerable population.
The Nursing Home Residents’ Quality of Care Initiative Act
This act provides the following legal protections to the state’s elderly population living in nursing homes:
- The Illinois Department of Public Health is to verify that nursing homes maintain minimum staffing requirements.
- The IDPH will also enforce minimum staffing requirements.
- Authorities make information regarding the levels of staffing and violations at specific facilities available to the public.
- A facility must enact appropriate and strong remedies after violation of minimum staffing requirements.
- Health care officials must obtain an elderly person’s informed, voluntary and written consent to the use of psychotropic medications. If that individual has a surrogate, the facility must obtain his or her voluntary, informed and written consent on behalf of the nursing home resident.
- Nursing homes must educate their staff members regarding policies and procedures regarding the above-mentioned informed consent requirements.
- Parties must take the appropriate action against nursing homes that violate the informed consent laws.
Making sure that nursing homes staff appropriately and do not use psychotropic drugs to subdue residents without their consent may reduce the amount of abuse and neglect that occurs in these facilities. However, just because a law exists doesn’t mean everyone will follow it.
If you discover that your loved one is subjected to abuse or neglect in violation of this or other state or federal laws, you may be able to take steps to pursue compensation on behalf of your loved one. You do not have to sit back and do nothing. Of course, the first priority is to get your loved one somewhere safe. Thereafter, you may find it worth your while to consult with an attorney regarding taking legal action.