Elder Abuse Awareness Day is Celebrated each year on June 15th.
On June 8, 2023 the Supreme Court handed down a decision that addresses
Issues arising from elder abuse in a significant way.
It affirmed that residents in public nursing homes have the right to sue in federal court when their rights are violated. This is counter to the binding arbitration section often tucked away in nursing home admission packages that families were required to sign when admitting their loved one into a nursing home. Family members that signed admission agreements with the binding arbitration clause
allowed nursing homes to use arbitration to settle disputes with nursing home residents and their families essentially denying them the right to sue for wrongdoing in the event of injury or death, essentially denying their day in court. Thus, options for seeking compensation would be severely limited.
Thus, arbitration often placed victims and their families in a much weaker legal position by limiting their ability to conduct pre-trial discovery and oftentimes also restricted their ability to call and cross-examine witnesses. Decisions resulting from arbitration decisions were notoriously difficult to appeal.
This ruling was based on the case of the Health & Hospitals Corporation of
Marion County v. Talevski, whereby the resident was wrongfully administered psychotropic medications and then was wrongfully evicted from the nursing home. The case before the supreme court was whether or not the plaintiff could assert his rights in federal court or if it would be left to the government to wage fines against the facility.
While the supreme court affirmed the plaintiff’s right to sue in federal court, the ruling has much broader implications. It also grants access in Federal Court to Medicaid recipients in federally funded programs operated by the states.
On June 15, the official day on the calendar marking Elder Abuse Awareness, there will be a bill signing ceremony in CT for HB 1088, An Act Concerning the Financial Exploitation of Senior Citizens, the purpose of which is to establish procedures to protect the elderly from financial exploitation. This bill is an outgrowth of a situation whereby a woman’s identity was stolen by a caregiver that was placed in her home by a home companion agency. At the time the caregiver was placed in her home, it was legal to place a former felon in the role of caregiver in a person’s
Home. In this case, the woman’s identity was stolen within a week of the placement. The caregiver will be sentenced to prison the same day as the bill signing.
Elder Abuse comes in many forms. It can be in our communities, in a facility, at the hands of family, friends, strangers or those in the role of caregiver.
Our older vulnerable adults need to be valued, respected and cared for with the dignity and respect they deserve. The same we all deserve.
Please contact your local representative to voice your concerns for the wellbeing of older persons. Let your voice be heard. It is for others today, for you tomorrow.
To find out more about Resident Rights in Nursing Homes and how to become a more informed and effective advocate for your loved one's care, and receive The SeniorScape® each week please email: