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Beware of abuse in Ohio assisted living facilities

By James W. Slater Published: November 25, 2014

People who can no longer live independently but do not require 24-hour care, often live in assisted living facilities throughout Ohio.  They may need help with bathing, dressing or preparing meals, but can do other things on their own. 

The definition of assisted living can vary.  The facilities can be large high-rise buildings to single family homes.  There are around 400 assisted living facilities in Ohio and all are regulated and monitored by the state.

About five percent of the residents residing in assisted living facilities have been subjected to mistreatment according to statistics reported on nursinghomeabusecenter.org.  At least five categories of harm were identified. These include physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, neglect of basic needs and financial exploitation.

An extensive report issued by the United States Government and Accountability Office (GAO) surveyed 622 assisted living facilities in four states, including Ohio, and found a pattern of deficiencies.  

Frequently identified problems included failure to provide sufficient care to residents after an accident, unqualified or insufficient staff, failure to provide medications or store them adequately, and failure to follow admission and discharge policies.

The same report showed primary factors causing these problems were inadequate staff training and high turnover. Another study showed a high correlation between staff-to-patient ratio and physical neglect of residents, and total incidents of mistreatment per patient.

Many times abuse incidents go unreported.  Residents are embarrassed or afraid to report mistreatment or lack the physical means to report an occurrence. For example, they are disabled or can’t get to a telephone.

If you suspect someone is being abused or has been abused in an assisted living facility, report it as soon as possible.

Contact the Long-term Care Ombudsman in Ohio.  The ombudsman works for the Ohio Department of Aging.   Include the following information:

·         The name of the person who suffered the abuse or suspected abuse

·         The type of abuse and the date it occurred

·         The name(s) of the abuser(s), if known

·         The name of the assisted living facility, address and telephone

·         Statement indicating whether you think this is a recurring problem or isolated incident.

You should also let the ombudsman know if you believe the facility has taken any steps to improve the situation and whether you have shared the information about the abuse with anyone else.

Also contact the Adult Protective Services agency in the county where the abuse happened.  Provide the agency the same information you gave to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

You can also report incidents of abuse to state and local authorities, especially if you suspect criminal activity.

This article was written by Attorney James W. Slater of the Akron, Ohio law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP. For more information about abuse and neglect at Ohio nursing homes and assisted living facilities, please visit www.stopohionursinghomeabuse.com.

** This blog is written by a private citizen who has no connection to the Akron Beacon Journal or Ohio.com. In no way does what they write reflect the opinion or views of the Akron Beacon Journal or Ohio.com. We do not edit or censor these blogs. The views and opinions belong to the author of this blog. We invite you to comment on their postings.

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