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Heritage Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

Mixed reviews for Heritage Health Nursing Homes

Over 3.2 million adults live in assisted living facilities in the US, and at least a third of them will suffer some form of abuse during their stay. This is a serious risk to their health and well-being, as elderly residents have a 300% greater chance of dying within three years after the first incidence of abuse.

While most nursing home residents receive proper care, it’s worth mentioning that cases of elder abuse are difficult to spot and measure. Often victims are already frail and suffering declining health. It’s difficult to say if a mysterious bruise or sudden drop in weight is due to the effects of advanced age or careless staff.

The frailest victims are also the ones least likely to report abuse, as they are often incapable of doing so or fear retribution. Consequently, it is estimated that most cases of elder abuse go unreported, and the true frequency of abuse in nursing homes is much higher than current statistics indicate.

As Levin & Perconti has become more familiar with the tragedy that is elder abuse in our work with victims and their families, we’ve learned that often the root cause of nursing home abuse is poor employment practices. The vast majority of nursing homes are for-profit entities that care more about profits than people.

With more and more Americans approaching their later years, investors have used the increased demand for elder care to their advantage, buying up struggling assisted living facilities and healthcare networks with the goal of turning a profit.

While these investors are savvy business owners, they are apathetic when it comes to healthcare, and the quality of care provided at these facilities is often substandard.

A common way new owners maximize profits is by saving on staffing costs. They either fail to hire enough staff, leaving existing staff stretched thin, or replace highly skilled and more expensive workers with less qualified employees who warrant lower wages. Either way, overworked and under-trained staff spell disaster for vulnerable assisted living residents who need specialized, professional care.

When there are too few staff members to assist all residents, neglect, and abuse quickly follow. A 2001 study found that for-profit nursing homes had on average 32% fewer nurses and consequently 47% more deficiencies in care than their non-profit counterparts. Overworked staff are incapable of meeting every resident’s needs, and the level of care received quickly declines. Mistakes are made and important signs of illness and decline are missed. Unqualified staff may try to fill the gaps, but they do not have the expertise to follow best practices.

Furthermore, busy or apathetic managers may fail to perform proper background checks on new employees and hire dangerous individuals not suited for caregiver roles. These staff members may be predatory and violent or resort to acting out frustrations on defenseless residents in a stressful environment.

The point is, greed and the subsequent lack of qualified caregivers in nursing homes are major causes of elder abuse and neglect. Sometimes these issues affect a whole network of nursing homes, and other times individual homes manage to rise above the deficiencies of their sister facilities. The latter appears to be the case for nursing homes within the Heritage Operations Group.

Taking a Closer Look at the Heritage Operations Group

Because standards of care can differ so drastically between different nursing homes, including those within the same network, it’s vital that families and individuals conduct their due diligence in researching ratings and other quality measures of specific facilities. The different Heritage Health locations owned by Heritage Operations Group are an excellent example of this.

The Heritage Health brand advertises short-term rehab, therapy, nursing services, and independent living at its 26 facilities operating in Illinois.

According to Heritage Health, they seek to exceed the expectations of residents coming to them for high-quality healthcare. They offer a comprehensive therapy program called RESTORE that focuses on physical, occupational, and speech therapy for residents. Additionally, 24/7 respiratory therapy is available at the Normal, Peru, and Springfield locations.

Heritage Health emphasizes its “heritage of Heritage,” with a history of family ownership and involvement going back more than 50 years. While not a complete safeguard against the risks of investor ownership, a family-owned network of senior care facilities should fare better with the level of detail put into resident care. Perhaps this is the key to the good, although inconsistent, ratings found among the Heritage Health facilities.

Life in a Heritage Health Nursing Home

Heritage Operations Group proudly advertises that they are rated Five Stars. What they mean is that six of their facilities (Bloomington, Chillicothe, Elgin, Mendota, Minonk, and Walnut) were awarded perfect five-star ratings by Medicare.

Medicare gives certified nursing homes ratings ranging from five stars “Much Above Average” to one star “Much Below Average.” These ratings are further broken down into individual ratings for quality measures, staffing, and health inspections.

These categories do not have to have perfect scores for a facility to receive a five-star rating. For example, Heritage Health-Walnut has a perfect five-star overall rating but a Below Average two-star rating for staffing. While five stars is a good sign of a quality nursing home, it’s important to look deeper at all of a facility’s ratings to determine if the level of care provided meets your expectations.

All elder care facilities make mistakes, so be sure to study public health inspection reports as found on to read about deficiencies found in even the best nursing homes. For instance, a few deficiencies found at Heritage Health’s five-star facilities include the following:

  • Failure to ensure that a nursing home area is free from accident hazards and provides adequate supervision to prevent accidents.
  • Failure to provide appropriate pressure ulcer care and prevent new ulcers from developing.
  • Failure to provide safe and appropriate respiratory care for a resident when needed.

Only Heritage Health-Elgin was found to have no health inspection infractions.

While Heritage Health has six five-star locations, that’s just a fraction of the group’s facilities. The remaining 20 are rated between four and one stars. After examining the highest-rated Heritage Health nursing homes, it’s important to also look at the lowest-rated ones too.

We found that Heritage Health-Carlinville has an overall rating of one star and is Much Below Average, with a one-star health inspection rating and Below Average two-star ratings for staffing and quality measures. Health deficiencies found at this location include

  • Failure to ensure that each resident is free from the use of physical restraints unless needed for medical treatment.
  • Failure to provide appropriate catheter care, appropriate care to prevent urinary tract infections, and appropriate care for residents who are incontinent of bowel/bladder.

Fortunately, most of Heritage Health’s elder care facilities achieved at least Average or Above Average overall ratings. The wide range of ratings awarded to nursing homes operated by Heritage Operations Group implies that the influence of family ownership can mitigate some of the pitfalls of investor ownership. Families of senior citizens should still do their homework to ensure they pick one of the good homes within this network and avoid the struggling ones.

Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Cases Handled by Levin & Perconti

Neglect and abuse can happen at any nursing home, but high ratings usually indicate a facility where it is less likely to happen and will more likely to properly address any reports. That’s why it’s so important for those looking for a nursing home to do their research and investigate and compare many different facilities. As we’ve seen with Heritage Health, even in the same network you can find excellent nursing homes and questionable nursing homes.

In our years of handling nursing home abuse cases, Levin & Perconti has seen far too many people who failed to read up on the facility they chose for a loved one, with tragic results. That’s why we’re so interested in helping families like yours identify the good nursing homes in your area and fighting for the rights of elder abuse victims.

Levin & Perconti has become recognized as one of the leading nursing home abuse lawyers in the country and has handled a wide variety of cases, including those involving

If you or a family member has suffered abuse at a Heritage Health facility or another nursing home, know that you have options. Levin & Perconti has a proven record of winning million dollar verdicts and settlements for those affected by nursing home abuse.

Our attorneys understand the confusion and heartache surrounding such cases and will be there with you every step of the way in your fight for justice. You don’t have to suffer alone.

If you are ready to pursue a case against a negligent nursing home or are unsure if you have a case, Levin & Perconti can give you all of the information you need to get started. Contact us at Levin & Perconti online or call us at 877-374-1417 today for a free consultation with one of our expert nursing home abuse attorneys.