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Caring for Those Who Cared for Us: When Nursing Homes Fail the Elderly

golden living nursing homes accused of failing to properly care for elderly residentsWhen it comes to healthcare, we like to think decisions about our care are typically made in conjunction with people who have years of education in the field. We like to believe that we have some say in the matter and that our health care decisions are the result of some sort of collaboration. Sometimes we simply have to trust that those tasked with our care are going to act in our best interest; but, we like to think for the most part, we have some control.

But, what about the care that is given to those who may not be able to care for themselves?

As America’s most populous generation continues to age, the quality of care in our nation’s nursing homes is getting more and more attention. Few things draw the ire of the general public like media reports of elder abuse and those who commit such a reprehensible act. However, when the abuse is alleged to come from a nursing home, a business and facility built on the premise of providing quality care to aging seniors, the ramifications – both legally and in the court of public opinion – can prove severe.

Such is the case with Golden Living nursing homes; a chain of 36 senior care facilities across Pennsylvania. The company has been targeted by embattled Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane in her effort to expose nursing homes in the Commonwealth that do not properly care for their residents.

The lawsuit, brought by a third-party law firm working in conjunction with the Attorney General’s office, accuses the nursing chain of maintaining staffing levels so low that residents are left “thirsty, hungry, dirty, and unkempt.” Residents at Golden Living facilities routinely go without assistance with the most basic tasks like pouring a glass of water or using the restroom.

The suit is backed by evidence provided by former employees and family members of residents. Additionally, at least a third of the company’s facilities have received sub-standard health department evaluations.

For its part, Golden Living denies the accusations and, instead, is focusing on AG Kane’s embattled tenure as Pennsylvania’s Attorney General. The company cites a possibly inappropriate relationship between the AG and the firm hired to pursue the lawsuit. No statement, however, was made of the abuses alleged by the ex-employees and residents’ families. Additionally, the company was mute when it came to their health department inspection shortcomings.

If proven true, the accusations of intentional understaffing simply as a means to boost profits and reduce expenses will put Golden Living in the company of the worst of our nation’s health care offenders. Forsaking the care of the elderly, especially by those expressly tasked with their care, is a grievous offense. If proven true, Golden Living should be held fully accountable for their actions.