In 2035, the elderly population will outnumber children for the first time in United States history. Every year it’s going to be more and more important to understand the available resources (eg. home and residential care) that help families provide good living conditions for their elderly family and relatives.
As of March 16, 2020, Illinois officials have reported a total of 105 cases of COVID-19 in the state. The information available so far suggests that most COVID-19 cases are mild. However, more tests are needed to have a clearer picture of the spread of the virus and we know that seniors are at a higher risk of developing serious illness.
Concerned about an increase in the number of complaints and open cases about elder care abuse received by his firm, Attorney Steven J. Malman commissioned a study in November, 2019 to see how Illinois looks after its elder population. This study analyzes local, state and national data and reports to gain a better understanding of how residential care homes in Illinois compare across the state and across the rest of the US.
The research was completed in March of 2020, and the study is more relevant now that COVID-19 spreads across the globe, and a second wave may happen in Fall/Winter 2020
From 2016 to 2018, senior homes in Illinois have committed 147 serious offences related to lack of infection prevention and there have been 916 reports of failing to take care of or prevent ulcers.
Of the 728 nursing homes in IL, 725 have committed at least one offense. As the spread of COVID-19 limits the ability of loved ones to check-in on seniors it is critical for senior homes to self-regulate and be held accountable.
During the observed period, 645 out of 728 nursing homes in Illinois committed an offense, serious or non-serious, related to Infection Prevention and Control.
“As we all know the world has changed rapidly in the past months and it has become even more critical that the living conditions of this most vulnerable group are improved as a matter of extreme urgency. It is nothing less than a question of survival. The speed and effectiveness of how we go about this will be a true reflection of our generation and the public servants that represent us.
“The fact that 147 reports tell us nursing homes are not providing and/or implementing an infection prevention program sends a clear message. Our senior care system needs an urgent reaction to COVID-19.”
Of the 728 nursing homes in IL, 725 have committed offenses in 2016-2018.
Of the remaining 725 homes in the state most have committed at least one serious offense in 2016-2018.
The most common serious offenses include:
Not procuring food from sources approved or considered satisfactory, or not storing,
preparing, and serving food in accordance with professional standards ( 747 reports)
Not providing and/or implementing an infection
prevention program (147 reports)
Not responding appropriately to alleged
violations (43 reports)
Not ensuring food and drink is palatable, attractive, and at a safe and
appetizing temperature (42 reports)
The most common non-serious offenses include:
Not providing appropriate pressure ulcer care and preventing
new ulcers from developing (916 reports)
Not providing care and assistance to perform activities of daily living
for any resident who is unable (890 reports)
Not hiring anyone with a finding of abuse, neglect,
exploitation, or theft (816 reports)
Even though the number of serious offenses has remained constant, the growth we are seeing is around non-serious offenses, which can be described as isolated cases that presented little or no harm to the patient.
To understand the rise in offenses seen in Illinois, we need to look deeper into the categorization of offenses. Here we can more clearly see the reason for the rise seen above. Non-Serious offenses have skyrocketed.
Honor each resident’s preferences, choices, values and beliefs.
Ensure that a nursing home area is free from accident hazards and provides adequate supervision to prevent accidents.
Provide and implement an infection prevention and control program. Provide appropriate foot care.
Provide appropriate pressure ulcer care and prevent new ulcers from developing.
Provide care and assistance to perform activities of daily living for any resident who is unable.
Develop and implement policies and procedures to prevent abuse, neglect, and theft.
Provide appropriate care for residents who are continent or incontinent of bowel/bladder, appropriate catheter care, and appropriate care to prevent urinary tract infections.
Provide pharmaceutical services to meet the needs of each resident and employ or obtain the services of a licensed pharmacist.
Not hire anyone with a finding of abuse, neglect, exploitation, or theft.
In between 2016-2018, most homes saw an increase in the number of offenses. Over 500 homes saw an increase while only ~170 homes saw a decrease in the number of offenses committed. Only 40 homes saw no change between 2016 – 2018.
From 2016-2018, most elder care homes saw an increase in the number of offenses. Some saw an exponential increase however, overall, most homes saw a median increase of ~6 offenses. Some residential care homes saw a decrease in the number of recorded offenses , and in these cases the median decrease was in the order of ~3 offenses.
Illinois is among the states with the highest number of nursing homes with 728 nursing homes in 2018. This makes the issue of regulating better care in the state even more urgent. However, the rate of offenses per home is not in the top 10 across the country.
And the quantity of elder care homes is reflected in the number of offenses committed; Illinois has the third highest number of offenses recorded across the country.
That said, when compared to other states, IL does not have an extremely high rate of offenses per home (placed 13 nationwide), which means that the number of offenses committed in each home is significantly lower than places like Washington State, Maryland, DC, and California.
Illinois elder care homes have been on the receiving end of a lot of fines related to offenses in nursing homes.
The average fine in Illinois, around $20K, is quite low in comparison with the rest of the US.
During the 3 year observed period, around 7 Million dollars have been collected between 2016-2018 from 350 fines.
It may be self evident, yet is still worth restating; we are all sons and daughters, and, if we’re lucky, we all grow old. Care for our elders is primordial and the fact that so many elder care institutions were found with infractions reflects badly on the carers, on us, and the organizations that are meant to regulate this industry.
I’m including myself when I say ‘Ok boomer!’ these upsetting trends need to be addressed and reversed. Many of us will spend the autumn of our lives in elder care so let’s set a minimum quality standard that’s a whole lot better than what it is today.
Illinois-based attorney Steven Malman has over 25 years of experience handling nursing home and medical malpractice and says this is an issue to take very seriously. After reviewing the data and the grim future the report paints about the state of senior homes in Illinois, he shared the following note.
“It’s simply not acceptable that almost all Illinois nursing homes appear to have infractions. More rigorous regulation and controls are necessary to keep our elders safe. Speaking as someone with elderly relatives as well as elderly clients I take this issue very seriously and encourage everyone to expect high standards and be vigilant.
My law firm deals with a lot of elder care cases and the fact they are on the rise reflects badly on those institutions and the organizations that regulate them. I can safely say that I speak for my team when I say there is a lot that can be improved and that the welfare of our parents, and probably ourselves, depends on. As a law firm that specializes in Elder Care cases it will sound odd for me to say that I would prefer that there would be no cases of this type to prosecute.”
Illinois has an urgent need to improve senior care, now more than ever, because of COVID-19. Over 99.6 percent of seniors homes in the state have committed offenses. While it is not the worst state in the country, the population of Illinois and the consequences of poor care for its aging seniors make this an issue that requires urgent attention.
Most nursing homes committed more offenses in 2018 than in 2016 and only 3 out 728 nursing homes committed no offenses between January 2016 and December 2018.
Illinois has also recorded an increasing number of offenses in recent years. Although these offenses are classified as not-serious, this is not a trend that should be overlooked.
To request any further details about the study please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org