Generations at Oakton
Nursing home abuse continues to be a growing problem in the US for a variety of reasons. More senior citizens are seeking nursing home care than ever before, the industry is rife with poor staffing practices, and government oversight is minimal. It doesn’t help that nursing home abuse is also woefully underreported, with authorities being notified in only 1 in 14 cases.
While all types of abuse are underreported, victims in nursing homes face unique challenges in reporting mistreatment, beginning with a lack of education about the issue. Elder abuse is not well understood by the general public and is a largely ignored issue in the media. Many people, including victims themselves, do not understand what elder abuse entails or the dangerous effects it has on victims. Many others assume that elder abuse victims are capable of sticking up for themselves as adults and that nursing homes have adequate procedures for handling cases of abuse. Unfortunately, they are wrong.
To begin with, many nursing home residents are unable to report abuse. These residents are usually very frail physically and mentally. They may not have the cognitive ability to understand that they are being abused or be able to communicate what’s happening. This is especially true of dementia patients who have memory problems and are easily confused. Even if they attempt to complain, they may not be believed. In these cases, their best bet is for a loved one or trusted staff member to notice something is wrong and investigate.
Even if they are capable of communication, nursing home residents may not have a safe person whom to report abuse. Abusers often threaten retaliation if their victim tells on them to a superior. A nursing home abuse victim may also not trust other staff members. Their best option is to tell a family member or friend outside of the nursing home.
Unfortunately, many residents do not have enough contact with close family or friends who can support them. They probably rarely leave the nursing home facility, and when they do for field trips or doctor appointments they are likely accompanied by staff. This isolation from the outside world prevents many nursing home abuse victims from reporting their experiences.
Some nursing home residents may be afraid of being a bother if they report abuse. This may be part of their personality or maybe they’ve been made to feel like a nuisance after voicing other complaints. Either way, they might be embarrassed, ashamed, or just don’t want to inconvenience anyone with their troubles.
Some individuals might reason that what they’re experiencing isn’t so bad or that’s just how things are. They might also witness retaliation against other residents who dare complain about mistreatment. The emotions surrounding abuse are complicated, and victims may react to being victimized with denial as a coping mechanism.
While it is understandably difficult for nursing home abuse victims to speak out, a more sinister reason behind underreporting is that many nursing homes fail to report abuse even when they become aware of it. Nursing homes are required by federal regulations to report incidents of abuse to local authorities, but many choose not to in order to protect themselves. This is a huge breach of trust and illegal.
It also prevents abusers from being held accountable and stopped from abusing again. Reporting their own staff for abuse is every nursing home’s legal responsibility and one of the most effective ways to stop abuse.
Nursing home abuse is never a victim’s or their family’s fault. It is not a defenseless resident’s responsibility to stop themselves from being abused, especially when there are many, many factors that prevent them from doing so anyway. Instead, it is every nursing home’s responsibility to do all they can to prevent and stop abuse, including reporting abuse claims and working with local authorities to investigate those claims and taking measures to prevent further abuse. When nursing homes fail to do all of this, they become the main contributors to the growing problem of nursing home abuse.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse
Levin & Perconti wants to reiterate that the only people at fault for nursing home abuse are the abusers and employers who let them get away with their actions. Victims and their loved ones are not at fault. However, because nursing homes cannot always be trusted to report abusive behavior, it is important that nursing home residents and their families know how to report abuse themselves. Even good nursing homes struggle to keep tabs on all of their employees, so it’s helpful for friends and family to be on the lookout for anything wrong as well.
This means friends and family should make a conscious effort to visit nursing home residents as frequently as possible. This allows you to notice any sudden changes in a resident’s behavior or health and notify staff if something seems off. Ideally, nursing homes should notify family or a resident’s power of attorney of any injuries or health changes, but that does not always happen, especially if they are being abused. Frequent visits also give residents a chance to confide in a trustworthy person about any abuse they’re experiencing and get help stopping it.
It helps if visitors know the signs of abuse. Frail nursing home residents can’t always recognize or communicate abuse, so it’s up to a loved one to notice when something isn’t right, and they can do this better if they know what to look for.
While nursing home staff should be trained to recognize and report abuse, they have many residents to care for and limited time to get to know them personally. Someone who has known a resident well for a long time is often better equipped to recognize when something is wrong.
Signs of abuse include anything that indicates an unreported injury, sudden decline in health, lack of basic care, or sudden and troubling change in behavior. Different individuals may exhibit different signs, but here are some of the most common ones:
- Untreated severe bedsores
- Unexplained injuries like bruises, burns, or scars
- Evidence of poor circulation like sunken cheeks or eyes
- Weight loss or malnourishment not due directly to an illness
- Frequent trips to the emergency room or doctor
- Wrong type or the wrong amount of medication administered
- Poor hygiene or unwashed clothes or hair
- Instances of wandering or elopement
- Frequently misplaced or lost personal items
- A lack of basic necessities, including utilities, water, and food
- A dirty room or bathroom
- Frequent trouble sleeping
- Unusual violent or withdrawn behavior
- Sudden depression or confusion
- Signs of trauma like rocking back and forth
If you ever become suspicious that a nursing home resident is being abused, report it immediately. Document what you have seen or know with photos or notes and follow the facility’s grievance procedure. This procedure should explain the steps you should take to report abuse.
At the same time, you can ask to speak with a staff supervisor or the facility administrator. Ask about any unexplained injuries, health declines, or behaviors and express your concerns that your loved one is being mistreated. If there is not a reasonable explanation for what you’ve seen and you still believe abuse is a possibility, the facility administrator should begin an abuse investigation.
The grievance procedure should help you understand what the facility is expected to do to investigate and stop any abuse that is going on. Part of this process should include interviewing relevant staff members and reporting your claims to the police or another government authority. Steps should be taken to prevent further abuse in the meantime. If abuse is confirmed, the perpetrator’s employment should be terminated and the criminal justice system should take over.
Unfortunately, all too often the owners or managers of nursing homes are hesitant to investigate and report abuse at their facility. They may feel apathetic about the situation or be more concerned about protecting themselves. If you ever feel that a nursing home is failing in its obligations to protect its residents from abuse, seek outside help. You can report them to your long-term care ombudsman or state licensing agency. If your loved one requires medical attention because of abuse, you can work with their hospital or doctor to report the abuse also, or even go straight to the police for help.
Your first priority should always be to report nursing home abuse to authorities who can help stop it. Once your loved one’s safety has been secured, however, you may have the option to seek restitution from the negligent nursing home. At that point, it is advisable to seek legal counsel from nursing home abuse law experts like the attorneys at Levin & Perconti.
We are nationally recognized for our work with Illinois nursing home abuse victims and handle all sorts of such cases.
We’ve personally seen the heartbreak of nursing home abuse and want to do everything in our power to help its victims. Part of our efforts is educating families and individuals about how they can reduce the risk of nursing home abuse by picking a safe facility where abuse is less likely to happen.
Picking a Good Nursing Home
While there’s no way to completely stop nursing home abuse, the facility you choose can have a big effect. Over the years, we’ve noticed that nursing homes with high-performance ratings are more likely to foster safe environments with enforced policies that prevent abuse and cooperate with families and police better to stop abuse if it happens. Conversely, poorly rated nursing homes are more likely to let abuse to occur and turn a blind eye.
These ratings are assigned each year by Medicare and can be found on medicare.org for Medicare-certified nursing homes in the US. When you are looking for a nursing home for yourself or a loved one, look up these ratings for any facility you are considering before you commit to one. We also advise reading the health inspection reports for each nursing home. These can tell you what specific health citations a facility has received and give you a better picture of the quality of care a nursing home provides residents.
To help you do this research, Levin & Perconti shares the information from medicare.org for Illinois nursing homes, like Generations at Oakton, on our own website. We hope this gives you another resource to easily discern between trustworthy and questionable nursing home facilities so you can pick the best one for your needs.
About Generations at Oakton
1665 Oakton Pl.
Des Plaines, IL 60018
The Generations at Oakton campus features two facilities: Oakton Arms for independent senior living and Oakton Pavillion for rehabilitative care. Oakton Pavillion has 275 Medicare-certified beds and provides a variety of medical services such as 24-hour skilled nursing care, post-acute care, sub-acute care, memory care, and multiple therapies.
Medicare awards Generations at Oakton Above Average ratings for health inspections and quality measures but a Below Average rating for staffing. Combined, these ratings result in an overall rating of Above Average.
Generations at Oakton has an impressively few health citations. This is a good indication that a high-quality level of care is provided there. For more details about those few citations, you can read the full health inspection report on medicare.org or a sample of it below.
7/26/2018 Failure to ensure services provided by the nursing facility meet professional standards of quality. The facility failed to meet professional standards by not accurately taking blood sugar readings with the facility glucometer for two residents. A nurse was observed pricking the residents’ fingers for blood samples and wiping off the first drop of blood with an alcohol swab before testing the second drop of blood. Using alcohol in this way can cause inaccurate blood sugar readings and is against policy.
7/26/2018 Failure to ensure medication error rates are not 5 percent or greater. The facility failed to administer medications as ordered and at a rate of 12%, affecting three residents. A nurse was observed crushing a medication for a resident that came from a package instructing that the medication should not be chewed or crushed. A second resident had to ask to receive their insulin after lunch. The nurse who was called stated the resident had not received their insulin because they were waiting for the resident to eat lunch and were not aware that the resident was done. A third resident was not given insulin until after lunch despite it being ordered to be administered before lunch.
7/26/2018 Failure to provide and implement an infection prevention and control program. The facility failed to maintain infection control practice for a resident receiving respiratory therapy. The resident was observed sleeping in their wheelchair in the dining room with their oxygen tubing touching the floor which is considered unsanitary.
Get Help from Levin & Perconti
We know how difficult it is to report nursing home abuse, but every victim deserves to be heard and helped. If you or a loved one have suffered abuse at Generations at Oakton or another Illinois nursing home, Levin & Perconti is on your side. We will listen to your experience and help you build a strong case so you can have your day in court. We have won over $160 million in nursing home abuse verdicts and settlements and can win for you too. If you are ready to seek the justice you deserve, click or call Levin & Perconti at 888-424-5757 any time for a free consultation and the help you need.
Disclaimer: The above health inspection findings are taken from public records kept and published by Medicare and the state of Illinois and are not complete. Levin & Perconti cannot confirm that this page’s content includes the latest information available. Any corrections or additions made to these public records after publication of this page will not be found here. For the most up-to-date information, visit www.il.gov or medicare.gov. This page is a legal advertisement and informational resource for visitors and is not endorsed by the named facility or any government agency. Levin & Perconti does not have any affiliation with the named facility.
Not only were they so professional but also so caring and thoughtful. It was very difficult going over the facts in our mother's case but they were so compassionate and understanding and allowed us to be with them every step of the way. We were able to sit in on the depositions and we were really able to see how hard they worked on our behalf.