In nursing homes all across America, there are a lot of people who do not belong and would do anything to leave. It could probably happen to you, in fact.
Most people want to live in their communities for as long as they can, even and especially as they age or struggle with an injury. And in 2000, the Supreme Court decided they have that right. In theory, no one should have to stay in a nursing home if they can live elsewhere and would like to do so. That means they should be able to take advantage of state and federal programs to help them live on their own, with family, or in a group home.
But the reality is, people can end up stuck in a nursing home for much longer than they need or want to be there. Many people who are injured or aging don’t have enough money for at-home services. And in some cases, they don’t have family willing and able to sign them out. In other words, they have to stay because it’s unclear where else they would go.
As a result, we have a class of prisoners in many ways, out of view of everyday America without the means to speak up for themselves.
Imagine being a 29-year-old stuck in a facility with mostly elderly and mentally ill patients, just because you have a serious injury and no obvious way to cover your medical needs if you’re released. There are cases, as reported in The New York Times, where patients have spent a quarter of their young lives in these homes.
It’s not that the solutions aren’t there: There are cost-effective alternatives like group homes and federal and state programs to help. In fact, studies have shown that encouraging people to move away from nursing homes is actually much cheaper for the states. The New York Times reports:
Washington State, for example, has found that its costs for one nursing home resident would pay for home care for seven people. Alabama calculated that it cost the state about $25,000 a year less, per person, to offer care at home.
In my opinion, a large part of the problem is that facilities don’t want people to leave: it benefits them financially to have patients filling up their rooms. Not every nursing home is like this, certainly, but as a Memphis nursing home abuse lawyer, I’ve seen what can happen when these companies put profit before what is best for their residents.
And when the patients kept in these facilities are a secret to most of us, abuse and neglect have room to take hold.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of nursing home abuse, contact me immediately. The conversation is confidential and free.