There has been some concern recently that the Attorney General’s office has not been aggressively prosecuting elder abuse cases. The San Francisco Examiner reports that prosecution of abuse cases are down under this particular administration from that of the previous Attorney General. In defense of the allegation, Attorney General Brown’s office states that the fewer prosecutions are due to the fact that the previous prosecutions had been successful in clearing up a good bit of the abuse problem. They are now concentrating on fraud cases against the MediCal system and saving the State some money.
What this means to the average person in a nursing home is that the state is a bit more concerned about retrieving its own money than it is about elderly people being abused on a daily basis. While the integrity of the State’s medicaid system is very important in funding the medical care that the elderly need and cannot always pay for through private insurance, it may not be the appropriate priority for a time when so much abuse is occurring.
The first line of defense for a family facing the abuse of a loved one is through the State Ombudsman. This is the very reason that the ombudsman system was set up to be a safe harbor that an abused person can turn to for much needed help. The State has cut back on the training for ombudsmen, they are no longer receiving training for four days every 2 years; they have not had training in over 3 years. This training is vital for the ombudsman to go into a nursing home and be able to recognize abusive or dangerous condition that the home might be hiding and could result in a nursing home abuse complaint. The abusive worker in the facility is now more in tune with events than the ombudsman is and this does not bode well for the poor elderly person trying to get some decent care.
The State of California apparently is changing its priorities concerning the elderly person who may be living in an abusive nursing home situation.