Readers of this blog know that I’ve reported previously on the subject of how many Massachusetts nursing homes have been found to advertise that they “specialize” in dementia care and Alzheimer’s Disease – when in fact, they have received no such credentialing from the state, at all. We all have the Alzheimer’s Association of Massachusetts and New Hampshire to thank for exposing this serious problem.
This trend, of course, is little more if anything, other than a craven attempt by many nursing facilities to capitalize on the growing population of elders afflicted with these tragic disorders – and in the process, capture more market share. Now, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has publicly released the names of the Massachusetts nursing home facilities that have been cited for either outright false and misleading advertising about dementia care, or failing to submit required paperwork to prove that they are in compliance with particular state requirements for Alzheimer’s and other dementia-afflicted patients.
As a Boston nursing home neglect lawyer, I’m encouraged by this development – but I would caution anyone thinking of placing a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease or other form of dementia into a nursing home, to not fool themselves into thinking that just because such a facility might not be in violation of this regulation, that this therefore means the facility is a “good” one. The Massachusetts DPH may have said at some point in this review process that it will “penalize” the cited facilities and others for non-compliance with this new regulation governing dementia and Alzheimer’s care facilities, but it has not clearly defined what “penalized” means. As a nursing home attornmey with a lot of experience in this field, my guess is that it’s probably a slap on the wrist, relatively speaking.
People must do their own homework and investigation of the nursing facilities that they are considering – yes, investigate: Ask many questions; speak to other residents’ family members – outside the sight or sound of staffers. Notice things. Don’t look the other way. As a Brookline nursing home abuse lawyer, I’ve handled too many cases of nursing home abuse and neglect. And the best prevention is pre-admission investigation of the facility, and post-admission constant vigilance in the form of regular visits, staggered at times difficult for staff to predict, and watching everything very closely.
There are many Massachusetts nursing homes that are reputable, honorable, facilities, that care very much for their patients, and diligently try their best to care for them. Doing so is NOT an easy task – I’m very conscious of that, and very appreciative for the responsible, ethical nursing homes that are in Massachusetts. To the Massachusetts nursing home industry, I say this: I’m not the enemy; and I’m not antagonist. But I am a watchdog for the rights of Massachusetts nursing home residents, and I am a protagonist for their well-being and for constant industry oversight and improvement. And when I find documented, proven cases of nursing home neglect or abuse, I am, legally speaking, a nursing home’s worst nightmare.
I take great pride in that.