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Illinois offers numerous resources to prevent nursing home abuse

We recently wrote about proposed legislation to install cameras in nursing homes in Illinois to prevent elder abuse. The Illinois Department of Public Health's Bureau of Long-Term Care governs nursing homes and their compliance with state law. But several state and federal agencies combine forces to license, regulate, inspect and certify Illinois nursing homes.

Long-term care facilities, a more inclusive term which includes nursing homes, serve over 100,000 residents in Illinois, with ages ranging from the young to the elderly. The IDPH conducts about 10,000 surveys each year, looking for any problems that may exist in these facilities. The Department also offers a round-the-clock Nursing Home Hotline for reports of concerns and complaints. The Hotline, which can be reached at 800-849-7182, responds to over 5,000 complaints each year.

These resources can be valuable when deciding on a facility for a loved one's care. Turning over the care of a parent, spouse or even a child to one of these facilities can be an emotional time and the many decisions to be made can leave one feeling vulnerable and at the mercy of a system of which he or she has little knowledge. Fortunately, these agencies provide other resources to assist with these decisions.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services maintains a database of information on nursing homes that can provide a starting point for making these important choices. In addition to this information from CMS, IDPH maintains a database that is updated on a quarterly basis reporting any violations of nursing home regulations and nursing home abuse, as well as the names of any facilities that are being investigated regarding loss of their certification.

Unfortunately, even with precautions such as regulatory agencies, accidents and even willful abuse can occur at these facilities. Everything from medication errors to financial abuse to dangerous falls can happen to your loved ones. If you feel that any of these abusive or neglectful behaviors are creating a dangerous situation, an attorney who handles nursing home abuse and neglect cases can help navigate the regulatory system, as well as any litigation that may ensue.

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