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As your loved ones grow older, many will likely require more supervision and specialized medical care than they do now. As a result, many families turn to nursing homes to provide that care. Although the family reasonably expects the nursing home to give the best care, unfortunately that is not always the case.

This sad fact was highlighted in a recent study conducted by Families for Better Care, a nonprofit elder advocacy group. The study graded nursing homes and long-term care facilities in each state based on several factors including the number of complaints, staffing levels and the average amount of staff experience in each facility.

Unfortunately, the study found that based on the care provided in its nursing homes, Illinois was one of the 11 states that received a failing grade. Only eight other states received lower grades.

The study cited several reasons for the failing grade. It was found that nursing homes in Illinois had the fewest number of frontline caregivers nationwide. As a result of the staffing shortage, Illinois nursing homes were only able to provide about an average of just above two hours of direct care per resident per day. To make matters worse, Illinois residents receive an average of only one hour of care from a certified nurse per day.

In addition, the study discovered that 25 percent of Illinois nursing homes have been cited for a severe deficiency, which indicates that nursing home abuses and neglect is likely widespread across the state.

Victims' remedies

Although the findings of the study are shocking, Illinois residents are not powerless to stop nursing home abuse or neglect. Under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, nursing home residents are granted certain rights such as:

  • The right to be free from abuse or neglect
  • The right to be cared for by their own doctor and manage their own financial affairs
  • The right to refuse treatment and be free from being restrained (except under a physician's orders) or be medicated with unnecessary drugs
  • The right to access the medical records that are related to their care
  • The right to free communication and exercise of religion

Residents whose rights are violated by the nursing home are entitled under the act to bring a civil lawsuit against the owners of the facility to recover damages. In addition, a resident who experiences abuse or neglect while in a nursing home is also entitled to file a lawsuit. Under the act, "abuse" can be any sexual, physical or mental injury. If the facility fails to provide or withholds medical care, personal care, mental health treatment or assistance with the necessary daily activities of the resident (e.g. bathing), "neglect" has occurred under the act.

Consult an attorney

If you suspect that your loved one's rights have been violated or that he or she has experienced nursing home abuse or neglect, you may be entitled to recover damages such as medical bills and pain and suffering under the act. An experienced personal injury attorney can advise you on your situation and work to hold the responsible parties accountable.

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