Oversight of Care at New Mexico Assisted Living Facilities Falls Short

Posted by PKSD New Mexico Law Firm on April 8, 2024 in Nursing Home Abuse

elderly woman left sitting alone in a wheelchairReports of neglect and substandard care is on the rise in assisted living facility centers across New Mexico. Violations facilities are most often cited for include increased instances of neglect, delayed medical care, failure to report incidents of abuse and more.

One example of the gross negligence occurring involves a partially paralyzed male resident. This man fell and broke his hip while in his bathroom of the Albuquerque Uptown Assisted Living facility. Sadly, staff there did not seek emergency care for this man. In fact, his estate, which is filing a wrongful death lawsuit, alleges that this man remained at the facility without care and in pain for three weeks after the incident.

This resident was eventually transferred to a nearby hospital and diagnosed as having a fractured hip and blunt pelvic trauma. During his stay there, he developed pressure sores and other infections.

According to the man’s obituary, he was taken home, where he died on October 1, 2022.

More Residents With Greater Medical Needs Moving into Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities are being used in lieu of nursing homes more and more across the country. In recent years, however, there has been a significant shift in the type of residents moving into assisted living facilities. This shift in care is having an adverse impact on the well-being of elderly residents who need more intensive, hands-on help.

Typically, residents who have significant medical or physical conditions would go to a nursing home. In New Mexico and across the nation today, approximately 40 percent of all assisted living residents have significant impairments, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia and other types of cognitive disorders.

Common Violations in New Mexico Assisted Living Facilities

New Mexico In-Depth reported on issues happening in many assisted living facilities across the state that are putting the well-being and safety of residents at risk.

The most common violations cited against these facilities include:

  • Poor documentation of resident records
  • Delayed care of residents
  • Understaffing issues
  • Inadequate training of existing staff
  • Negligent background checks
  • Failing to report incidents of abuse

One reason serious incidents may often go unreported is that assisted living facilities are not held to the same level of regulations implemented for nursing homes under federal law.

How Are Assisted Living Facilities Different Than Nursing Homes

There are many differences between assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

Less Hands-on or Intensive Care Required

For starters, the level of care at an assisted living facility is vastly different from the care provided at a skilled nursing home.

Assisted living facilities are a great option for residents who need some assistance with small things, like daily chores and other light tasks. These residents typically can remain more independent and continue to do much more for themselves. As such, residents in assisted living are not expected to have significant medical, mental or physical problems that would require a higher level of care.

Nursing homes are intended to provide skilled nursing and other round-the-clock types of medical care as required for residents who are frailer or suffering from various medical conditions.

Assisted Living Costs Less Than Nursing Home Care

Another significant difference between skilled nursing home care and assisted living is the cost. In New Mexico, the median cost for residents in assisted living facilities last year cost approximately $5,450 per month. Nursing homes, however, cost nearly twice that at about $10,007 per month. This reduced cost makes assisted living a more attractive option for many.

Less Regulation

Assisted living facilities are not as heavily regulated by the federal government as skilled nursing homes. For instance, federal law does not require assisted living facilities to:

  • Provide daily staffing level reports
  • Payroll data
  • Facility expense or profit data
  • Regularly scheduled inspections
  • Less oversight overall

In short, the federal government does not require automatic reporting of assisted living facilities. Rather, they leave the governing of assisted living facilities to the state. This hands-off approach includes leaving the state to set what they deem to be the minimum standards, carry out inspections to help ensure compliance and enforce the standards when need be.

Over six years ago, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) made recommendations to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. These recommendations included establishing standard reporting requirements for situations where residents faced various health and safety situations. This recommendation has not been adopted.

Are You Concerned for the Well-Being of a Loved One in Assisted Living?

At PKSD, we are deeply committed to protecting the well-being and the legal rights of the elderly. If your loved one suffers harm because of neglect or abuse at his or her nursing home, we are here to help.

Our nursing home abuse attorneys in Santa Fe have extensive knowledge of the law and a proven history of results.

Not sure if you have a case? We offer a completely free case review to learn more about your potential legal options. Simply call to schedule this meeting at your convenience. After this meeting, if you choose to hire our services, there are no upfront costs or fees to pay.

Request your free case review today. (505) 677-7777

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