Background checks meant to protect Illinois nursing home residents from dangerous felons moving into a home often miss violent crimes, downplay the risk they pose to aging seniors and leave nursing home residents vulnerable to abuse, according to an investigative report by the Chicago Tribune.
The Chicago nursing home neglect and abuse lawyers at Abels & Annes continue to monitor the issue of unqualified employees or residents — including convicted felons — being hired by or housed in Illinois nursing homes and elder care facilities.
The average cost of nursing home care in this country hovers around $6,000 per month. Half of the nation’s 18 million nursing home beds are operated by large chains and two-thirds of all nursing homes are for-profit companies.
The Tribune investigation found some residents who had a history of violent crime went on to commit assaults or other serious crimes inside the homes where they lived.
Illinois became the first state to require background checks for all residents as part of a 2006 law meant to address the growing number of mentally ill felons entering the state’s nursing facilities. The checks are used to screen high-risk individuals who require close monitoring or private living quarters.
But the Tribune’s review of 45 recent cases found many instances of incomplete assessments that left out crucial details, including criminal convictions. The report also found long delays in completing the checks — sometimes resulting in felons living among residents for more than a year.
And of the more than 3,000 convicted felons living in Illinois nursing homes this summer, less than 30, or 1 percent, were classified as high-risk, which requires homes to place them in single rooms near nurses’ stations.
Two-thirds — a total of 2,077 felons — were classified as “low risk,” meaning the nursing homes are permitted to treat them no different than residents without criminal records.
With the aging Baby-Boomers set to further crowd a system that is a routine target for state and federal budget cuts, more and more Illinois residents will be forced to rely upon the state’s nursing homes for care. The federal government estimates that half of those over 65 will spend time in a nursing home.
Click here for advice on finding an Illinois nursing home through the Illinois Department of Public Health.
And click here for reports of Illinois nursing homes with recent violations.
Illinois lawmakers have outlined the rights of nursing home residents in the Nursing Home Care Act.
If you have concerns about a Chicago nursing home, call the Illinois nursing home neglect and abuse lawyers at Abels & Annes at (866)-99-ABELS.