Assisted Living Facilities in Maryland
Many Maryland families choose assisted living for their loved ones who can no longer live independently but don’t want or need to live in a nursing home. The person may need help with activities of daily living (ADL) such as toileting, dressing, feeding, bathing, personal hygiene, etc.
Though nursing homes get the most attention when it comes to abuse and neglect of residents, these incidents also occur in assisted living facilities. If you think that by avoiding a nursing home your family will also avoid these problems, you need to think again.
Ideally, assisted living facility residents should have as much independence as they want and are able to handle, while benefiting from available personal care and support services if and when they’re needed. Assisted living communities differ from nursing homes in that they don’t offer complex medical services.
There are three levels of care in an assisted living facility, and the resident is assessed upon admission. The cost, as well as the amount of care required of the facility, increases between levels. Generally, assisted living facilities are cheaper than nursing homes, and they provide less skilled nursing care. Some residents who need more care than an assisted living facility can provide may find themselves in trouble if the facility doesn’t want to admit the problem and would rather have the person stay to maintain the payments from the resident.
Assisted living communities can range from a single residence to being one level of care in a continuing care retirement community offering more advanced care as well. The environments of assisted living facilities are generally more appealing to potential residents and their families than nursing homes; they could be small apartments rather than nursing home rooms that may be shared with another person.
There can be studio and one-bedroom models. Kitchenettes usually feature a small refrigerator and microwave. The size, amenities and sophistication of assisted living communities range from a single building with basic services to large, multi-building campuses offering high-end facilities and services.
Residents are normally seniors whose abilities have declined in some way and they need assistance in performing one or more ADLs. They appeal to seniors who would prefer to live in a social environment without the responsibilities of living on their own. Care should be easily accessible if and when it’s needed.
Assisted living facilities are a step up in the level of attention and care from an independent living community which is a form of housing targeted to those over the age of 55. In senior communities, housing may be apartments, townhouses or single family homes. Social activities may be planned for community members, and yard work and other maintenance issues may be taken care of as part of the cost. If a resident can’t maintain independence because of difficulties with one or more ADLs, assisted living may be the next option.
Nursing homes provide more care and supervision than assisted living facilities. They care for older and/or disabled adults who need around-the-clock care at a much higher level than those who can reside in an assisted living community.
Many assisted living facilities try to bridge the gap between their services and those of nursing homes by providing health care on-site or by contracting with local healthcare providers so that a resident can remain at the facility despite the fact that he or she needs a higher level of care. This would normally be an extra cost in addition to the monthly rent, and the charges vary on the amount of care provided.
Assisted living facilities generally offer prepared meals three times a day as well as help with light housekeeping and laundry for high functioning Level 1 residents. For higher-end facilities that also offer independent living, there may be a fitness center, swimming pool, beauty salon, post office and transportation. Events, activities and trips may be planned for residents. Some assisted living facilities may allow residents to keep pets.
Assisted living facilities are regulated at the state level, so each state has their own policies, guidelines and regulations that define and govern what care and services are required for an assisted living community to meet the state standards.
Residing at an assisted living facility costs about half what it costs to live in a nursing home. Genworth Financial’s annual survey of senior living costs found that last year the national average monthly cost for residing at an assisted living facility was $3,628, while the average monthly cost for a nursing home was $6,824 for a semi-private room and $7,698 for a private room. The average monthly cost for assisted living in Maryland was $3,750.
Assisted living is normally paid for from private funds, with some exceptions. Some private long-term care insurance policies cover licensed assisted living. A war veteran or the spouse of one might qualify for Veteran’s Benefits that can be used to help pay for assisted living.
Like nursing homes and group homes, assisted living facilities must have a care plan for each resident. They are responsible for injuries and deaths if they fail to address the medical needs of the resident.
- They must recognize the medical needs and get the resident prompt treatment when needed.
- If the facility can’t provide sufficient care to address a resident’s medical needs, he or she should be transferred to a nursing home or hospital, whichever is more appropriate.
In Maryland, negligence or abuse of a resident can be defined as “physical, sexual, mental, or verbal abuse, or the improper use of physical or chemical restraints or involuntary seclusion.” Examples of physical abuse or neglect that could happen at an assisted living facility include,
- Bedsores or pressure ulcers
- Repetitive falls, leading to severe injury or death
- Medication errors
- Failure to obtain emergency care.
The facility has a duty to provide for the health and safety of its residents. Part of that duty is protecting residents from each other. An issue both assisted living facilities and nursing homes need to address is that of preventing residents with dementia from abusing and potentially injuring other residents. Assisted living residents who abuse other residents or staff are likely to have dementia or severe mental illness, reports Kaiser Health News.
That abuse may be physical, verbal or sexual, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology, and such incidents are “prevalent” in assisted living facilities. The study looked at data from a 2010 federal survey where facility administrators were asked about aggressive or threatening behavior by residents in the previous month.
In a national sample of 6,848 residents at least 65 years old, researchers found reports of these incidents in the month before the survey:
- 6% of residents had engaged in physical aggression or abuse toward other residents or staff.
- 5% of residents committed verbal abuse or aggression.
- 2% percent were involved in sexual abuse toward residents or staff.
Other results from the study show:
- Compared to the rest of the population, those with dementia were five times more likely to engage in physical abuse.
- Male residents engaged more often in physical abuse than female residents.
- Residents with severe mental illness were three times more likely to engage in physical, verbal and sexual abuse.
Researchers noted that these estimates might understate the problem because resident aggression that staff members are not aware of was not captured in the survey.
Those with dementia often have memory loss and difficulty in communicating and controlling their behavior. They can be aggressive and unable to understand they’re harming others. Prior research estimated 42% of assisted living residents in the U.S. have some form of dementia.
If you are considering an assisted living facility for a family member, find out if there is a separate unit for residents with dementia and there is trained staff who can spot and manage the early warning signs of aggressive behavior.
If a loved one living in an assisted living facility suffered a serious injury because of neglect or abuse or was killed due to the negligence of the facility, take action to protect your rights and the rights of your family member.
- Assisted living facilities should be held accountable when their mistakes cause serious harm to residents.
- If you believe a family member suffered because of the staff of an assisted living facility, an investigation may discover what actually happened, why and who is responsible.
- You don’t need to feel guilty or responsible for the harm done. If the facility’s management and staff are to blame, you shouldn’t second-guess yourself.
Attorney Roger Weinberg has the experience and skill to make assisted living facilities in Maryland accountable for their bad care. In 2014, he successfully won a $1,000,000 verdict when a facility refused to acknowledge the neglect of a resident. The resident died in the facility after suffering for hours from a medical emergency.
Because of their reputation for strong advocacy, the Law Offices of Roger Weinberg, LLC, often gets referrals from past clients and other attorneys. If you have observed, or even suspect, abuse or neglect of a loved one in an assisted living facility, call 410-825-3161 to begin an investigation that may result in compensation and justice.