Realizing that an elderly loved one needs the type of around the clock care only offered at a long-term care facility can be extremely difficult – particularly if you have played the role of caretaker up to that point. Like many people, you probably spent a considerable amount of time investigating the long-term care facilities in your area before deciding which one works for your loved one. Unfortunately, no matter how diligent your research and analysis might be, your loved one could still be at risk. Take, for example, the recent death of a resident at an Oklahoma City nursing home following an altercation with another resident.
Nursing Home Altercation
A news report tells the story of an altercation between two residents – over a bug no less – in an area nursing home that ended in the death of one of the residents. Oklahoma City homicide detectives are now investigating the death of 69-year-old Carolyn Rutledge. The Alzheimer patient died Tuesday at Integris Baptist Medical Center. A nurse in the Alzheimer unit at the Fairmont Skilled Nursing Center called police on Saturday after seeing blood on the cafeteria floor.
Witnesses told police a 76-year-old male patient assaulted Rutledge. She reportedly told the elderly man he had a bug on his clothes. ‘Which for unknown reasons,” said Officer Megan Morgan, Oklahoma City Police Department, “upset the suspect, who then struck the victim.” Another nurse said the patient slapped and shoved Rutledge, which caused her to fall and hit her head on the floor. The nurse told officers she ran to the woman but could not get to her before she fell.
Rutledge was taken to the hospital where nurses informed investigators the patient had a traumatic brain injury. “Unfortunately, yesterday she died as a result of the injuries she sustained during the altercation,” said Morgan. Facility management offered a statement regarding the patient’s death:
“The facility was deeply saddened by the loss of Mrs. Rutledge. At the time of the incident, the facility immediately notified the police and will continue to cooperate fully with authorities in their investigation of the matter. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her loved ones.”
Police did not arrest the suspect and will turn their investigation over to Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office. Officer Morgan reported that once completed, they will determine whether to file charges or not in this incident. Facility management said the elderly man has been moved out of the center but did not say where he was moved to.
Is Your Elderly Loved One at Risk?
Placing an elderly loved one into a long-term care facility is difficult enough without having to worry continuously that he/she is at risk of becoming the victim of physical and/or mental abuse. In the story above, the most obvious question that comes to mind is “where were the staff during the altercation?” While there is no way to be certain a loved one is not at risk while at the nursing home, there are some questions to ask the facility and/or yourself that will help you find the best possible option.
- What is the staff-resident ratio?
- What is the physician to patient ratio?
- Has the facility been cited within the last 24 months?
- Has the facility been accused of abuse/neglect before and, if so what was the outcome?
- Does the facility specialize in, or have a separate area for, memory care?
- What are the procedures for filing a complaint?
- How can a resident communicate with loved ones?
- What impression do you get when you walk in the door? (This is more important than you likely realize.)
Once you have decided on a facility, do not assume your work is done. Instead, make sure that you stop by unexpectedly from time to time to get a real look at the facility and about your loved one’s care.
Contact Oklahoma City Elder Law Lawyers
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding your loved one’s long-term care options, or any other elder care legal issues, contact the experienced Oklahoma City elder law lawyers at Parman & Easterday by calling 405-843-6100 to schedule your appointment today.