Ohio and other states license nursing homes to assure that residents are afforded a reasonable standard of care. However, a recent report revealed that unlicensed nursing homes across the country are committing unacceptable and even illegal acts and compounding the frequency of nursing home neglect and abuse.
RTI International, an independent and non-profit research firm, performed the study and report for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after receiving allegations of abuse and neglect in unlicensed facilities. They concluded that unlicensed facilities posed serious risks for senior citizens, individuals with mental illness and elderly adults with disabilities who are particularly susceptible to possible abuse.
Researchers, based upon information from informants and experts, concluded that these homes had conditions that were abusive and financially manipulative, and that they neglected the residents' basic needs. Some situations involved false imprisonment and moving residents among facilities, even in different states, to avoid government oversight.
One expert compared this to human trafficking where residents are kept against their will and moved among different locations to avoid detection. But, federal laws prevent human trafficking for sex and not for collecting public benefits.
Other concerns included improper management of residents' medications and living conditions that were not safe, sanitary or comfortable. There were reports of facilities fraudulently collecting residents' Social Security payments after they died. Unlicensed homes even stole utilities from their neighbors.
The report claimed that some unlicensed homes provided good care at a reasonable cost. The good facilities were overwhelmed by the number of unacceptable homes, though.
Unlicensed facilities often operate in residential neighborhoods and exist secretly in plain sight. Telltale signs of unlicensed facilities include residents who wear the same clothing every day, stolen electricity and other utilities from neighbors, licensed care givers operating as fronts to unlicensed facilities and back houses with additional residents.
An attorney can help family take legal action against facilities that are unlicensed and do not comply with federal and Ohio laws on care. They can help assure that the rights of residents are protected.