Friday, October 31, 2008

Center Home for Hispanic Elderly Fined for Poor Supervision

1401 N. California Ave
FINED- 2003
Center Home was fined $5,000 for failing to provide
adequate supervision to a resident with a history of
wandering. The resident, who wore an electronic
monitoring device, was found by a family member about
four blocks from the facility at a busy intersection
during rush hour traffic.
No alarm sounded when the resident slipped out of the
facility. Department investigators were told by an
employee that the 10 electronic monitoring devices
used by the facility were in working condition when
she left for the weekend, but not as loud as usual and
difficult to hear. The employee was given a written
reprimand by the facility for not ensuring the devices
were in proper working order and clearly audible.

Boulevard Care Center Cited for Verbal Abuse

3405 S. Michigan Avenue
FINED- 2006
Boulevard Care Center was fined $10,000 for failure
to ensure that staff implemented the abuse policy
after an incident of verbal abuse by an employee
toward a resident was witnessed by another staffer.
The failure to act quickly and begin the abuse
investigation put the resident and other residents at
harm for further abuse by the employee.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Seniors Take Care to Avoid Falls

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, falls are the primary cause of accidental death in persons over the age of 65. Compared with children, elderly people are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized as a result of a fall. Up to 60 percent of nursing home residents fall each year, and one half of those have multiple episodes. Hip fractures are the leading fall-related injury that results in hospitalization. One fourth of elderly persons who sustain a hip fracture die within six months of the injury.

Given these grim statistics, it makes sense to do what you can to avoid falls. Common causes of falls among the elderly include:

-Accidents caused by environmental hazards (such as objects on the floor)
-Medications or alcohol
-Acute illness
-Confusion and dementia
-Postural hypotension (low blood pressure upon standing up)
-Vision problems

Simply by being aware of the serious risks associated with falls can help you to be safe. Take steps to correct the things that are causing you to be unsteady on your feet. If you have a relative in a nursing home, insist that they perform a fall risk assessment and follow up with a care plan to address the risks.

Bellhaven Nursing Home Fined for Improper Supervsion

11401 S. Oakley, Chicago
FINED- 2006
Belhaven Nursing Home was fined $20,000 for failure
to implement/monitor and provide supervision for a
resident who displayed aggressive and harmful behavior
toward staff and other residents during a two week
period. The resident attacked another resident causing
a fractured left jaw, a fracture of the sinus cavity,
a fractured nose, and trauma to the eyes, impairing
vision to the resident's eyes.
FINED- 2006
Belhaven Nursing Home was fined $5,000 for failure to
provide adequate supervision to a resident with
Alzheimer's disease, who was identified as at risk for
leaving the facility. The resident left the facility
without staff knowledge and was re-admitted the next
day with multiple abrasions and bumps.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ambassador Nursing Center Fined for Inadequate Supervision

4900 N. Bernard St. in Chicago
FINED- June 23, 2004
Ambassador Nursing Center was fined $5,000 for
failure to prevent a resident from leaving the
facility unsupervised.
Responding to a complaint, Department surveyors
learned a resident left the facility unnoticed and was
found about 4.5 miles away outside a hospital
emergency department. The temperature at the time was
10 degrees Fahrenheit and the resident was only
wearing a T-shirt, pants and sandals with no socks.
The resident was treated for frostbite.
When staff realized the resident was missing, they
began a search of the building. About 50 minutes
later, a police officer called the facility and
informed staff that the resident was at the hospital.
The resident, who was fitted with an electronic
monitoring device, told surveyors she left the
facility by walking through the front door. Staff said
they did not hear a door alarm at the time of the
A Department-ordered plan of correction required the
facility to provide adequate supervision and to train
staff on appropriate actions and interventions to
prevent a resident from leaving the facility

All American Nursing Home Fined for Public Health Violation

5448 N. Broadway St
FINED- December 20, 2004
All American Nursing Home was fined $5,000 for
failing to supervise a resident who had a history of
smoking in non-designated areas. The resident fell
asleep while smoking in his room and caught his
mattress and linens on fire. Prior to the incident, an
employee saw the resident in bed with cigarettes
nearby and warned him not to smoke, but did not
confiscate the cigarettes.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Illinois Citizens for Better Care Has Info Re Nursing Homes

If you or a loved one are looking for a nursing home or seeking better care in a nursing home, the Illinois Citizens for Better Care is an excellent resource. It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping improve the quality of care for nursing home residents. Their website, located at has a wealth of resources. Among other things, it includes information about where and how you can obtain information about nursing homes in Illinois.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Alden Wentworth Fined for Nursing Home Violation

201 W. 69th St. in Chicago
FINED- 2006
Alden Wentworth was fined $10,000 for failing to
provide the necessary supervision and assistance to
prevent accidents. A resident, who was blind and
considered a high risk for falls, broke his neck and
several vertebrae after getting up from a chair and
falling. He died two weeks later.
Despite a care plan that stated the resident was to be
continually supervised, the man was left alone.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Do I Need a Will or a Living Trust

Do I Need a Will or a Living Trust?
By Eric Parker

This is one of the most common questions that elderly clients ask their attorneys. Although the details can become complicated, you should be able to answer the basic question by the end of this article.

A will is a basic legal document that allows you to state whom you would like to receive your property when you die. A trust accomplishes the same goal. The primary difference between the two is how your assets are transferred.

With a will, when you pass away, the will is filed in court and a probate judge is appointed to oversee the distribution of your estate. Typically it is necessary for your executor to hire an attorney to represent your estate. The law requires your executor to notify all of your heirs of the process and provide detailed information about your debts and assets. The judge then ensures that your debts are paid, and the remainder is distributed according to your will. The process can take up to a year. If you have a large estate, some estate taxes may be owed.

With a trust agreement, you retitle your assets in the name of the trust while you are still alive. For example, if your house is owned by John Doe, you would retitle it to “The John Doe Trust Dated 6/10/08.” During your life, you remain the “trustee” and make all decisions regarding the property, just like if you owned it yourself. At your death, however, the trust assets automatically transfer to your designated beneficiary. Because your assets continue to be owned by the “John Doe Trust Dated 6/10/08” there is no need for your estate to go through probate. It is still necessary for your trustee to pay your debts. Just like a will, if your estate is larger, it will be subject to estate taxes.

In most cases, a trust is preferable to a will. The trust will usually save money for your beneficiaries because it is not necessary for them to go through the probate process. The trust will allow the transfer to occur more quickly. Unlike probate, the trust agreement is also completely private.

The down side to a trust agreement is that it costs more to set up. For a small estate a simple will can often be prepared by a lawyer for $500-$1000. A trust agreement is typically more complex to prepare. There is also some cost involved in retitling your assets to the name of the trust. This work is done on an hourly basis by most lawyers and can cost several thousand dollars. The cost can be greater if you have a large estate.

So who should consider a trust agreement? If your total estate is less than $100,000 and you do not own real estate, it will probably not be necessary to probate your estate, and a simple will is probably the best bet. If you estate is between $100,000 and $300,000 or includes real estate, a trust agreement begins to make more sense. Beyond $300,000 a trust agreement is almost always the best bet.

Of course, these are only guidelines. There are specific situations where one or the other might be preferable. It is wise to consult with an attorney to decide on the best option for you. Fortunately, many attorneys will agree to a free initial consultation to discuss the options.

Eric Parker is an attorney with the law firm of Stotis & Baird Chartered. Eric primarily represents elderly clients and victims of personal injuries. The firm practices in the areas of Estate Planning, Medical Malpractice, Real Estate, Personal Injury and Business Consulting.

This article was first published in the Keenager News Published by Catholic Charities and is reprinted here with their permission.

Alden - Princeton Fined by Illinois Department of Public Health

255 W. 69th St. in Chicago.
FINED- May 1, 2002
Alden-Princeton Rehabilitation and Health Care Center
was fined $5,000 for failure to prevent a resident
from wandering away from the facility unnoticed.
After staff discovered the resident was missing, the
buildings and grounds were searched to no avail. About
30 minutes later, the resident was found unharmed by
police a couple blocks from the facility.
The resident had been able to leave the third floor,
which has an elevator with a key pad that requires a
code to operate, and pass two nurses' stations and the
receptionist's window at the front door without being
The Department-ordered plan of correction required
the facility to provide residents with adequate
supervision and to train staff on how to assess
resident risk of elopement and to identify and monitor
high-risk patients. The facility also was ordered to
ensure all exterior doors are equipped with functional
alarms or are constantly monitored.

Alden Morrow Rehab Fined for Nursing Home Violation

5001 S. Michigan Ave.
FINED- 2003
Alden Morrow was fined $5,000 for an incident in
which a resident disappeared from her unit and was
found unharmed six hours later in a locked
mechanical/boiler room. The room was filled with
equipment and supplies, including a corrosive
chemical. Staff determined the resident left the unit
by riding an elevator, which did not have an audible
alarm to alert staff. Prior to the incident, the
resident had made several attempts to get on the
elevator and leave the unit.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stotis & Baird Proud Sponsor of NCCNHR Annual Meeting

Stotis & Baird was proud to be a sponsor of the 2008 annual meeting of the National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR). NCCNHR was formed to address concerns about substandard care in nursing homes. The group works on a national level to make positive changes in conditions at nursing homes. NCCNHR provides information and leadership on federal and state regulatory and legislative policy development to improve care for nursing home residents.

The NCCNHR web site includes a great deal of helpful information for nursing home residents and their families. It can be found at

Monday, October 20, 2008

Burnham Healthcare Fined by Public Health

14500 S. Manistee in Burnham.
FINED- October 5, 2004
Burnham Healthcare was fined $5,000 for failure to
investigate an incident involving a resident who was
sexually aggressive toward another resident.
As part of an incident report investigation,
Department surveyors learned a resident reported to
the facility’s security guard he heard his roommate,
who had a history of inappropriate sexual behavior,
scuffling with a female resident. The guard went to
the room and found the resident trying to get the
woman to inappropriately touch him.
The facility did not conduct a thorough investigation
of the incident, protect the resident from further
abuse or refer the resident for medical evaluation.
The facility was aware of repeated inappropriate
sexual behaviors toward female residents and staff,
but made no effort to implement effective treatments
or monitoring to manage his behaviors.

Burnham Healthcare Nursing Home Fined for Violation

14500 S. Manistee in Burnham.
FINED- 2003
The Illinois Department of Public Health has fined
Burnham Healthcare $10,000 for failure to properly
assess the needs of a resident and to take the
necessary precautions to ensure her safety.
As part of an incident investigation, Department
surveyors found a resident, who had Alzheimer's
disease and was frequently confused, sustained four
fractures to her legs after getting them caught in the
side rails while attempting to get out of bed.
Staff put the resident back in bed and did not
transport her to the hospital until 45 minutes after
the incident. The emergency department nurse told
surveyors that the resident had obvious fractures and
The resident had fallen out of bed twice before this
incident, but the facility failed to remove the side
rails and to reassess the resident for the use of
alternative methods. The facility failed to follow its
own policy, which stated that a confused resident
should not have side rails but should be given a low
bed instead.
The Department-ordered plan of correction required the
facility to assess each resident for his/her need of
side rails and restraints and to write care plans
reflecting resident safety.

IDPH Violation Issued to Burnham Healthcare

14500 S. Manistee in Burnham.
FINED- December 27, 2001
Burnham Healthcare was fined $5,000 for failure to
provide adequate supervision to prevent a resident
from leaving the facility unsupervised.
The resident left the facility unnoticed and was
discovered the next day during the evening rush hour
lying in the middle of a busy highway about 19 miles
from the facility. The woman, who was awake but
unresponsive, was transported to a local hospital by
paramedics and the next day taken to a mental health
The resident was listed as a "Jane Doe" for nearly
two weeks until the state Guardianship and Advocacy
Commission identified her as the missing Burnham
resident and contacted the facility.
Staff were unable to explain how the resident left
the facility unnoticed and told investigators the door
alarm system was working.
In the months prior to the incident, staff said the
resident had become restless and aggressive, but the
facility did not take any steps to address the
behavioral changes.
The Department-ordered plan of correction required
the facility to properly supervise residents; to
monitor changes in a resident's condition and treat
accordingly; and to ensure all resident-accessible
exterior doors are equipped with functional alarms or
are closely monitored.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Nursing Home Violation - Bridgeview Health Care Center

8100 S. Harlem Ave., Bridgeview (Cook County)
FINED- 2003
Bridgeview was fined $10,000 for failing to provide
care to a resident whose blood glucose levels were
above normal for five days and who displayed other
signs and symptoms of elevated blood sugar levels.
Despite some unusual behavior, staff did not assess
the changes in the resident's condition to determine a
need for medical evaluation and treatment. On the
sixth day, the resident was transferred to a local
hospital and was diagnosed with a diabetic coma.

Nursing Home Violation Report - Blue Island Nursing Home

2427 W 127th St., Blue Island
FINED- November 28, 2001
Blue Island Nursing Home was fined $5,000 for failure
to provide adequate supervision to prevent a resident
from leaving the facility unsupervised.
Responding to a complaint, surveyors found a
resident, who had a history of wandering, left the
facility unnoticed. The nursing home is located in a
high traffic area.
During the investigation, surveyors learned the
resident made frequent attempts to leave the facility.
Despite a history of wandering, the facility did not
revise her care plan to address the behavior. In
addition, a staff member on duty at the time the woman
left the facility said she did not hear a door alarm
sound and commented there had been problems with the
A Department-ordered plan of correction required the
facility to provide adequate supervision of residents
and to ensure all resident-accessible exterior doors
are equipped with functional alarms or constantly
The Pros and Cons of Reverse Mortgages
By Eric Parker

Over the last few years, reverse mortgages have been growing in popularity. They can be an excellent tool allowing seniors to stay in their homes. They are, however, complex financial transactions which should not be entered into lightly. Here are a few thoughts on the topic.

What is a reverse mortgage?

Basically, a reverse mortgage is a loan which you are taking out against the equity in your home. In a typical loan, you make payments each month, and the debt that you owe decreases a little with each payment. With a reverse mortgage, the bank makes payments to you each month, and the amount of your loan increases each month. The payments are calculated to continue for a number of years until you have reached a maximum loan amount (60-80 percent of your home’s value). At that point, you would not receive any further payments, however you are also not required to pay back the loan. It may also be possible to receive a lump sum or line of credit instead of monthly payments. The loan is due only when you move out of the house. When the house is sold, any equity remaining in the house after repaying the loan is yours to keep.

What are the advantages of a reverse mortgage?

A reverse mortgage can allow you to stay in your house by removing your monthly mortgage payment and instead giving you a monthly income. That income can be used to maintain the house, pay for in home care, property taxes or anything other purpose. This can allow seniors to live a long healthy life in their own home.

What are the disadvantages of a reverse mortgage?

Although reverse mortgages are a great product, they are not for everyone. First, you should understand that you are borrowing against the value of your home. As a result, when you do sell your home, you will receive less equity or your heirs will inherit less money. Second, there are some fees at the outset of the loan which are comparable to the fees associated with purchasing a home (about 5% of your home’s value). Therefore, it may not make sense to obtain a reverse mortgage if you are only planning to stay in the house for a couple of years. Third, it may not be the right thing if you are ready to move into assisted living or a nursing home. If nursing home care or assisted living is what you need, it would be better to sell the house and make the move.

How do I get one?

You must be over the age of 62 and have paid off quite a bit of your mortgage. Not all lenders offer reverse mortgages. Lists of reverse mortgage lenders in Illinois are available on the web. Once you have located a lender, they will explain how much they can lend you and over what period of time. You will be required to meet with an FHA approved housing counselor for about 45 minutes. Finally, you should have a lawyer or financial planner review the terms of your loan to ensure that you understand the details of the agreement.

How can I learn more?

There are a number of independent organizations that provide information about reverse mortgages. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) publishes a list of things you should know about reverse mortgages. AARP also produces several articles on this topic. Links to some of these resources are available on our firm’s web site at The important thing to remember is to make sure that you receive information from independent sources and not just the lenders themselves.

Eric Parker is an attorney with the law firm of Stotis & Baird, Chartered in Chicago. He specializes in injury litigation, nursing home neglect and issues facing the elderly. He has no interest in any reverse mortgage company or broker.

This article was first published in the Keenager News Published by Catholic Charities and is reprinted here with their permission.

Friday, October 10, 2008

How You Can Stop Nursing Home Neglect

Most nursing homes provide quality care to their residents. Nevertheless, there are reasons to be concerned about nursing home neglect. According to Medicare, the average nursing home in the U.S. will be cited for 8 health deficiencies at each state inspection. In 2001 a study for the House Committee on Government Reforms found that in a two year period, nearly one third of all certified facilities had been cited for some type of abuse violation.

Fortunately, there are things that you can do to ensure that you, or your family members receive good care:

1. Good support from family and friends

Patients who are in relatively good health may be able to advocate for themselves. For patients with dementia or Alzheimers, however, this may not be possible. Perhaps the best protection against neglect is the active involvement of friends and family. If your parent is in a nursing home, visit regularly and ask questions. Visiting at different times of the day and night will help you to determine if staffing and care are consistently sufficient.

2. Work with the nursing home

Before resorting to more aggressive measures, it is wise to attempt to work out any issues with the nursing home directly. Often a polite request is all that is necessary to ensure that a problem is corrected. The director of nursing is typically a good person to speak with about quality of care. Remember that nursing is a difficult and often thankless job. When the facility staff is doing good work, be sure to praise them for their efforts. When a lapse occurs, politely inquire.

3. Know your rights

During the time a person is in a nursing facility, it is their home. As such, they deserve the same dignity and respect as any other person. A resident who has stayed up late her entire life, should not be required to go to bed early simply because it is more convenient for the facility. Residents have the right to receive needed treatment or to refuse unwanted treatment. Knowing these rights is important. Some of the rights guaranteed to nursing home residents can be found in the “Patient Bill of Rights” which is often posted somewhere in the home. It is also available in a number of places online, including through the National Citizen’s Coalition for Nursing Home Reform at

4. Participate in family / resident councils

Many nursing homes have “Resident Councils” where residents can gather and discuss concerns about the care they are receiving. Similarly, some homes have “Family Councils” at which family members can discuss common issues. These councils can provide an excellent way to advocate for improved care. If the facility does not have such a council, there are many organizations that can help you to establish one. One such organization is Illinois Citizens for Better Care, which can be contacted at

5. Contact your local ombudsman

Every region of Illinois has a long term care ombudsman, whose job is to monitor nursing homes and advocate for good care. The ombudsman can provide a wealth of information to residents and families. They can provide assistance with everything from locating a good nursing home to negotiating improved care. You can locate your local ombudsman by calling the Illinois Department on Aging Senior Help Line at 1-800-252-8966.

6. Call Illinois Department of Public Health

When a nursing home violates a health or safety standard, you should report the violation to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The department maintains a hotline for any suspected violations. The investigation of these complaints can help to prevent further violations. It also establishes a record of any violations. The hotline number is 1-800-252-4343. Information about past violations by a particular nursing home are also publicly available from the department.

7. Call the police

Residents sometimes forget that they have a right to call the police. Anything that would be a crime outside the nursing home is also a crime in the nursing home. Anything from theft to physical abuse can and should be reported to the police department. Physical abuse by staff or other residents is not just unfortunate, it is a crime. It should be treated as such.

8. Call a lawyer

Calling a lawyer should be one of the last options to pursue. Nevertheless, some injuries are so severe that there is no other option. Likewise, there are some nursing homes that will not improve conditions unless it will affect their bottom line. Illinois has a number of laws that can protect neglect and abuse victims. It is important to locate a lawyer that is experienced in nursing home litigation.

Receiving good care is a process. By knowing your rights, demanding good care and knowing when to reach out for help, you can help to stop nursing home neglect.

Eric Parker is an attorney practicing in the areas of nursing home neglect, personal injury, and issues facing the elderly. He works with the firm of Stotis & Baird, Chartered in Chicago. Links to some of the resources described in this article can be found on the firm’s web site at

This article was first published in the Keenager News Published by Catholic Charities and is reprinted here with their permission.

7 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Aging Parents

If your parents are still healthy and active, be grateful and enjoy their company. Then take a little bit of time to plan for future. The time you spend now will save you and them countless headaches in the future. Here are seven things you can do to help them through their golden years.

1. Prepare a Will or Trust

When you are healthy and happy, preparing a will or trust agreement is no big deal. It is not terribly expensive and allows your parents to decide how they want their assets distributed. Choosing the right estate planning tool, however, can save thousands of dollars in probate costs for their heirs. It is particularly important in small to moderate sized estates. $20,000 in probate expenses is not the end of the world if you are leaving a million dollar estate, but if it is $100,000 it is.

2. Prepare a Durable Power of Attorney

Powers of attorney for health care allow a trusted person of your choice to make health care decisions if you cannot make them yourself. They are similar to a living will, but more flexible. A Power of Attorney for finances allows someone else to make financial decisions for you. The trick is that a power of attorney must be prepared while a person is competent to make their own decisions. Many families seek out a power of attorney only after their parent has Alzheimers or severe dementia. At that point it is often too late. A much more expensive guardianship procedure is necessary instead. A few hundred dollars and an hour of time is all it takes to avoid this problem if you do it when they are healthy.

3. Make Sure that their Finances are Well Managed and Protected

Financial abuse is surprisingly common among the elderly. Sadly, the abuse is frequently at the hands of friends and relatives. The best way to protect your parents is to encourage them to discuss things with you. We tell our elderly clients to call a couple of people before signing anything or transferring any property or money. Regularly reviewing account statements can also help to spot fraudulent or abusive transfers.

4. Plan far in Advance for Nursing Home Care

Most people do eventually wind up in a nursing home. Yet, it is surprisingly common for the family to decide on nursing home care, pick the nursing home and discuss payment, only after the situation has become critical. Financially, it is possible to do many things to plan for this if you start early. Options range from good Medicaid planning (3-5 years in advance), long term care insurance (5+ years in advance) to investing for the cost (5+ years in advance). Likewise, you should allow plenty of time to pick the right nursing home. There are many good resources for choosing a good nursing home. If you don’t rush the process you’ll make a better choice.

5. Find them a Good Geriatrician

When it comes to the elderly, not all doctors are created equal. A doctor specializing in geriatrics is much more likely to focus on the things that matter. They are also likely to avoid tests and procedures that may be more harmful than beneficial. Good medical care will help your parents to live independently for the longest possible time.

6. Plan for Emergencies

As we age there is an increased chance of a life threatening incident. Such incidents include stroke, heart attack or even a simple fall. There are things you can do to plan for these eventualities. Set up an alarm or signaling system that allows them to easily call 911 for help. Prepare a list of their medications, medical conditions and emergency contacts that is located in an easily accessible location. Some communities provide a “File of Life” kept in a magnetic sleeve on the refrigerator. Paramedics in those communities know to look for these sleeves and bring them along to the hospital.

7. Insist on Good Care

At some point you may recognize that you need help caring for your parents. It is good for you to recognize your limitations and get that help. It may include at-home care, assisted living or nursing home care. Even good facilities, however, sometimes neglect patients or make mistakes. Do not hesitate to ask questions, report problems or insist upon better care. Be polite but persistent. Take the time to praise people who go the extra mile to care for your parents.

Considering these options may seem a little depressing. Nobody wants to contemplate their own death, or the death of a loved one. Ignoring the situation, however, will not improve things. Good planning, on the other hand, can allow your parents to live long, healthy independent lives.

By Dan Hill at

Welcome to Elder Law Blog

Hi Everyone! Here is a test of the Elder Law blog. We are going to talk about issues that effect the elderly, including nursing care, wills/trusts & estates, and more!