In the latest effort to improve the much maligned elder care in the state, a bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives seeking mandatory dementia-specific training for care center employees. Nursing home negligence in Kentucky has been in the limelight for the past few years following reports of deficiencies, abuse litigations, understaffing, and other negative conditions at care centers. The state authorities vowed to improve the affairs after the Families for Better Care gave Kentucky a “D” grade.
The new bill introduced on January 6, 2015, proposes “a new section of KRS Chapter 194A to require dementia-specific training for nurse aides upon initial orientation and an annual requirement of 5 hours of dementia-specific in-service training for nurse aides.”
A majority of KY nursing home residents include elders with dementia and their mental status makes them more vulnerable to negligence, abuse, accidents, and ill treatment by fellow residents, staff and strangers. In 2009, a resident with dementia was raped by two other residents. Investigators discovered that the victim was “sexually abused within sight of a nursing supervisor,” but the Kentucky nursing home management “failed to protect” her. A $20,000 fine was imposed on the care center, but there was no trial.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services alleged that the care center “failed to protect residents from unwanted sexual contact” and “had knowledge that … (two) male residents with cognitive impairment had a history of exhibiting sexual behaviors.”
The Anna Ambrose case is one of the most infamous examples of how dementia patients nursing home negligence in Kentucky. “A gaping pressure ulcer and bedsores” caused her death in 2006. The litigation filed by her daughter led to $300,000 awarded in damages. The court awarded a whopping $225,000 in punitive damages.
Her Kentucky nursing home neglect attorney submitted documents before the court that showed “reckless disregard” by care givers toward residents with dementia, such as lack of nutritional food, unhygienic dresses, no fluids at regular intervals, and even failure to give medications on time.
In 2011, another dementia patient at the same KY nursing home suffered slip and fall accidents 11 times before becoming bed ridden with a broken hip. Her family discovered that she was left alone to wander in the premise and was not attended or supervised by care givers for hours. The state of affairs continues even after frequent accidents. Allegations of “substandard quality of care” led to a $6,000 fine.
How Helpful Will Be the New Bill?
The questions over effectiveness of the new bill in curbing nursing home negligence in Kentucky are premature. However, it is sure that it is step in the right direction.
The bill postulates mandatory training of aides at assisted care centers on how to tackle residents suffering from dementia. It will help in enhancing awareness of caregivers and educate them about special need of these residents, two essential elements in improving the care of dementia patients at nursing homes. The provision of five hours of dementia-specific in-service training every year means there will be more direct professional care available for such patients cutting down the risk of abuse and negligence.
About one-third of 284 Kentucky nursing homes rated one or two stars by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This effectively means “there’s widespread abuse, neglect, mistreatment of residents occurring in far too many nursing homes” and staffing and quality of care continue to bother advocacy groups. In 2013, direct professional care stood at around 20 minute per resident per day, trained nurses were in awful shortage at the stat care centers.
Proactive steps led to two important acts in 2014, one on background checks of employees at state care homes and the other on maintaining a caregiver misconduct registry. Despite the steps, there has been a five percent rise in KY nursing home abuse and ill-treatment reports compared to the last year. There has been a significant rise in financial exploitation complaints and almost four-fifth of these involved dementia patients.
Please contact our Kentucky nursing home lawyer or call on 1-866-447-0150 to discuss the best course of action, if your loved ones are victims of nursing home negligence in Kentucky, whether in Louisville, Bowling Green, Lexington, Paducah or elsewhere.