When our loved ones get older and can’t care for themselves anymore, finding them a comfortable nursing home often becomes a top priority. Unfortunately, the nursing home system in the United States is riddled with serious problems, including widespread abuse and neglect of residents. You would think that VA nursing homes would be better run, as our veterans deserve the utmost quality of care. But tragically, these nursing homes often have more problems than private ones. What more can the VA do to ensure that veterans are provided with the quality of life they deserve in their golden years?
Congress Demands Release Of VA Data
Last week, several Congresspeople from both sides of the aisle called for the Department of Veterans Affairs to release nursing home data that has been kept secret from the public. Internal documents from the VA show that the quality of care at the VA’s 133 nursing homes scores worse on average than private sector nursing homes in important quality indicators, such as rates of antipsychotic drug prescription and residents’ deterioration.
After USA Today and the Boston Globe inquired about the data last week, the VA released some of its nursing home ratings, but kept underlying quality data (infection and injury rates, etc.) secret. This information has been recorded for years, but never made available to the public. Additionally, the 60 homes with the lowest ratings were kept secret from the public until reporters demanded their release.
Federal vs. Private Nursing Home Information Requirments
Currently, there is no law requiring federal nursing homes like the VA-operated ones to release quality data. However, private nursing homes are legally required to make this information available to the public. When families are searching for the right nursing home for their elderly loved ones, research into safety and the environment of the home is important. Having access to this type of data is a crucial part of doing your due diligence to make sure your loved one is in a safe home that will allow them to live their golden years in comfort.
Veterans deserve access to the same data so that they and their families can be aware of the quality of care they can expect to receive and compare this data with that of private alternatives in the area.
Are Veterans More Vulnerable To Nursing Home Neglect & Abuse?
There are about 46,000 veterans who are cared for in the VA’s 133 nursing homes. The elderly are generally one of the most vulnerable population groups when it comes to physical and sexual abuse. Additionally, nursing home neglect can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences, as these people require a high degree of care to keep them healthy during the twilight of their years.
Veterans may be especially vulnerable for a few reasons:
- They are not provided with the same data available for private nursing homes, which means it’s easier for them to end up in a home with neglect or abuse problems.
- They are more prone to psychological conditions like PTSD, which require a high standard of care and may make it more difficult for them to function socially.
- They are more likely to have severe physical injuries and disabilities, such as amputated limbs.
If you’re concerned that an elderly loved one may not be receiving the care they deserve in a VA nursing home, we suggest filing a report with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Additionally, it may be worth speaking to an experienced nursing home neglect lawyer about your legal options.