Heritage Health Walnut
When you hear about abuse and neglect in nursing homes, you probably imagine facility staff physically or emotionally hurting residents or failing to provide for their basic needs. You certainly would not be wrong. Abuse and neglect usually do refer to harm done to a person’s body or mental health. However there is another way nursing home residents can suffer at the hands of unethical staff, and that is financially.
Usually financial abuse and exploitation of senior citizens is perpetrated by their own family and friends, but it is not unheard of for nursing home employees to have access to residents’ financial information or funds and perhaps take advantage of this access. After all, it is very easy to take advantage of frail seniors who may have poor cognitive abilities and memory, and in assisted living there are plenty of such residents to choose from.
In many ways, theft and exploitation are easier to get away with at a nursing home. Unless a facility had strict practices for accessing resident information, it would not be difficult for any one of its staff to look up and misuse confidential information from residents. Additionally, a single thief could easily hide their actions in a facility that has multiple caregivers going in and out of residents’ rooms throughout the day. Even if theft is discovered, it is very difficult to identify who in a large facility is the guilty party.
While there are steps you can take to prevent identity theft and secure a loved one’s funds and valuables when they enter assisted living, it is better to prevent this kind of abuse— as well as other kinds— altogether. Nursing homes are responsible for preventing all types of financial abuse through employee screening and comprehensive policies, but families can do their part in protecting elderly family members by finding them a safe nursing home that takes that responsibility seriously.
Levin & Perconti encourages families and individuals to learn all they can about prospective nursing homes when they are selecting one for a relative. We’ve found in our years representing nursing home abuse victims that those facilities with the highest Medicare ratings and shortest health inspection reports are more likely to maintain high standards of care and staffing practices that prevent most cases of abuse.
To help you in your research, we have taken it upon ourselves to share with you these ratings and information from health inspection documents for individual Illinois nursing homes, like Heritage Health Walnut. You will also find tips for protecting nursing home residents from abuse. We hope this assistance makes it easier for you to compare the nursing homes in your area and identify one you can trust.
About Heritage Health Walnut
308 S. Second Street
Walnut, IL 61376
Heritage Health Walnut is a small facility with 62 beds. The location offers long- and short-term skilled nursing, hospice care, and a number of therapies. The campus also boasts eight senior apartments for independent living.
Medicare awards Heritage Health Walnut a perfect Much Above Average overall rating. This was achieved with a combination of an Above Average quality measures rating, Average staffing rating, and Much Above Average health inspection rating.
Despite its perfect overall rating, Heritage Health Walnut still has some deficiencies noted during its last health inspection report, including
3/29/2018 Failure to provide appropriate care for residents who are continent or incontinent of bowel/bladder, appropriate catheter care, and appropriate care to prevent urinary tract infections. Staff failed to secure a resident’s urinary catheter and keep the urinary drainage bag off the floor. During catheter care, staff lowered the resident’s bed, allowing the catheter bag and tubing to touch the floor, which promotes contamination. The catheter also wasn’t secured to the resident’s leg and there was no dignity bag around the catheter bag.
3/29/2018 Failure to try different approaches before using a bed rail. If a bed rail is needed, the facility must (1) assess a resident for safety risk; (2) review these risks and benefits with the resident/representative; (3) get informed consent; and (4) Correctly install and maintain the bed rail. The facility failed to conduct quarterly side rail assessments and entrapment risk assessments for three residents. Two residents’ bed rail evaluation documents stated they should have bilateral ¼ rails, but there was no documentation of an entrapment risk assessment for either. A third resident did not have updated documents for either side rail or entrapment risk assessments.
3/29/2018 Failure to implement gradual dose reductions (GDR) and non-pharmacological interventions, unless contraindicated, prior to initiating or instead of continuing psychotropic medication; and PRN orders for psychotropic medications are only used when the medication is necessary and PRN use is limited. The facility failed to ensure that an as needed medication did not exceed a duration of 14 days without documenting a rational for the extended time period for two residents. The facility did not have documentation giving reason for extended use of as needed medication for both residents.
Protecting Nursing Home Residents from Financial Abuse
The best way to protect a person in assisted living from financial abuse is to help them find a facility that makes proper employee screening and resident safety a priority. You can do this by thoroughly researching prospective nursing homes, comparing the information you gather to identify the most qualified care facilities, and then touring those facilities to see what they’re like for yourself. There are many resources online and provided by your community or state to help you do all of this.
However, even in the most highly rated facilities mistakes happen and abuse can always occur as an isolated incident. Therefore it is important to take measures to secure your loved one’s finances and valuables to prevent and discourage any kind of financial exploitation or theft. Here are some ideas for how to do that:
- Use automatic bill paying systems and direct depositing for checks instead of physical checks that can be stolen or forged.
- Learn about how your relative’s banks and financial institutions detect suspicious activity and use any alert system they offer.
- Consider engaging a geriatric care manager to oversee complete care, including finances.
- Visit or talk to your relative regularly. Isolated residents are more likely to be targeted.
- Work with your relative to limit and track the amount of cash they have on their person and help them find a place to hide their money among their belongings.
- Make arrangements to keep valuables in a safe place outside of the nursing home.
- Arrange for a trusted family member to hold power of attorney and be responsible for handling your relative’s finances so someone is checking your relative’s accounts regularly.
- Don’t give your relative’s nursing home any responsibility for paying bills or other financial responsibilities on behalf of your relative. Always handle those within the family.
- Talk to your relative about not sharing financial information with or giving money to caregivers.
Reporting Financial Abuse
Part of protecting a nursing home resident from financial abuse is being prepared to speak up if anything ever seems amiss. This means you should be aware of the signs of financial exploitation and know how to take action once you suspect something is wrong.
There are many ways to exploit a vulnerable senior, so it is important that a trusted and competent family member be made responsible for overseeing an elderly relative’s finances when they can no longer do so themselves. That way if anything unusual happens, someone can spot it and address it immediately. It helps to know what signs of unusual financial activity look like. Here are some things to watch for:
- An unexplained transfer of money or assets to another individual, especially someone who is not a friend or family member
- Abrupt changes in your relative’s will or other financial documents
- Frequent checks written to a particular financial professional or caregiver
- Sudden changes in banking habits or funds, such as unexpected withdrawals by another individual
- Personal belongings going missing
- Missing cash, checks, or credit card
- Sudden reluctance from your relative to talk about financial issues
- Your relative’s signature being forged for titles of possessions or financial transactions
If you have reason to believe a nursing home staff member is stealing from or otherwise exploiting your loved one, take action immediately. Begin by reporting any fraud to your relative’s financial institution so they can prevent access to funds and information and open an investigation on their end if appropriate. You should also report your suspicions to the nursing home.
Every nursing home should have a procedure in place for reporting abuse and complaints. This procedure should have been communicated to you when your relative moved into the facility and should also be posted somewhere visible. Follow the procedure and speak to someone with authority such as a staff supervisor or the facility administrator.
Take documentation with you so you can show them proof and have all the details straight. The supervisor or administrator should take immediate action to investigate and rectify the situation. However, insufficient management is often at the root of abuse and other issues in nursing homes, so there’s always a possibility that those in charge will fail to take appropriate action or improve the situation. If you find that your family member’s nursing home is not fixing an abusive situation, seek outside help from a doctor, long-term care ombudsman, or state licensing agency.
Nursing homes have a responsibility to prevent and appropriately handle all kinds of abuse. If your relative’s nursing home has failed to protect them from financial exploitation, theft, or other cases of financial abuse, you may have a legal case against them. In that event, you should seek advice from nursing home abuse law experts, such as the attorneys at Levin & Perconti.
Levin & Perconti Can Help
The attorneys at Levin & Perconti are nationally recognized leaders in nursing home and elder abuse law.
If you or a loved one have suffered any sort of abuse or neglect at Heritage Health Walnut or another Illinois nursing home, Levin & Perconti wants to help. We will fight for your rights and help you achieve the outcome you desire. We’ve won millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients over the years and can win for you too. All you need to do to get started is click or call Levin & Perconti at 888-424-5757 today for a free consultation.
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.