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    Families Should Not Have to Worry

    One of the most difficult decisions any family faces is when, or if, to place a mother, father, or grandparent (a loved one) into a long term nursing or convalescent facility. Setting aside the complex web of emotions, ones that often include guilt feelings, there is the concern of how a loved one will be treated and cared for by those who are not family. Complete strangers. Normally well trained and very thoughtful people-but still strangers. Clearly families and their loved ones will get to know the staff, but it can all be very stressful to begin.

    Given how hard a decision like this can be, the last thing families should have to worry about is if their loved one is being mistreated or cared for poorly. Unfortunately, it happens and families need to remain diligent. There should be regular visits and frank and open lines of communication with the facility management and those caring directly for the loved one. If the family witnesses something or something doesn’t seem right, they should make every effort to immediately bring it to the attention of both the management and those directly involved in the care. And even if a loved one is not placed in such a place permanently but just to convalesce, the concerns and dynamic are similar.

    This story outlines what can happen when a facility puts itself above its residents. From the article:

    “According to the lawsuit, Thomas was transferred to Ventura Convalescent Hospital for rehabilitation, and Proffett was assigned as her doctor. Levine said that when her mother was discharged less than three weeks later, she realized Thomas was taking a long list of powerful drugs like Zoloft, Ativan and Haldol.

    ‘I freaked,’ said Levine, noting she had no knowledge of the prescriptions and had not given consent. ‘We have to be our parents’ voices, especially with Alzheimer’s. They can’t speak for themselves.’

    Thomas died on Jan. 28, 2011, and lawyers allege the drugs played a role in her deterioration. They also have documentation showing the Ventura nursing home was cited by the California Department of Public Health for using unnecessary drugs.

    The lawsuit alleges Proffett testified in other litigation that he never personally obtained consent and instead relied on the nursing home to inform residents. Lawyers also contend the nursing home and Proffett fraudulently created records verifying the physician had obtained consent.

    Johnson expects the lawsuit will involve 80 to 100 plaintiffs. The lawyers are seeking residents at Ventura Convalescent and other nursing homes who received antipsychotic drugs over the last three-plus years without receiving detailed information about the drugs, their health affects and any alternatives.”

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