Brookdale Assisted Living Facilities: As Bad As It Gets
Everyone gets old. It's a fact of life. At some point, we all need someone we can count on who will take care of us when we are unable to care for ourselves. This is where assisted living facilities come into play. Assisted living is meant to help those who are aging. Unfortunately, a majority of Americans in assisted living facilities are not getting the care they need or deserve. Neglect has run rampant throughout the nation and the elderly are suffering as a result. Instead of focusing on providing assistance to the elderly, assisted living facilities have turned into a multi-million dollar business, with profit as the main concern. Brookdale Assisted Living is one such facility.
What sorts of abuse have occurred at Brookdale?
Neglect at assisted living facilities can take many forms. Most assisted living facilities run into problems when they understaff or neglect the wellbeing of those they care for. Brookdale Assisted Living is a perfect example. Brookdale is a senior living facility which has numerous offices throughout the nation, 65 just in Florida alone. What most do not know is that Brookdale has been the subject of numerous lawsuits due to the level of care they provide to patients. In 2013, Brookdale was sued for wrongful death and elder abuse when one of their residents, Eleanor Buckingham, became ill, but was left unattended at a facility in California. Staff at the assisted living facility noticed an ulcer on Ms. Buckingham's back, but failed to get medical attention until it was too late. Her condition was so neglected that the ulcer became infected and she eventually passed away as a result of her injuries. Brookdale accepting responsibility for the incident, and settled with Ms. Buckingham's family for $1 Million.
Again in 2013, Brookdale faced yet another lawsuit for negligence and sexual assault. The victim here was resident Charlane Shea. On Sept. 28, 2013, the complaint states, Brookdale Senior Living admitted Shea with significant leg weakness and progressive multiple sclerosis. On April 19, 2014, Brookdale employees noted Shea had been sexually assaulted by another resident at the facility. According to Cook County Record, "on Oct. 5, 2014, Brookdale employees charted that Shea had redness and swelling in her right heel. One day later, Brookdale documented that Shea's right heel was red, swollen, and had an open area, and the next day, she was transferred to St. Alexius Medical Center with dehydration and a urinary tract infection. At St. Alexius, Shea was diagnosed with cellulitis of the foot and osteomyelitis of the right heel, and on Oct. 15, 2014, her right heel pressure ulcer was documented as a stage three, the complaint states. The complaint states that Brookdale was negligent in failing to initiate and sustain measures to prevent skin breakdown and pressure ulcers, failed to appropriately monitor her condition, failing to provide a safe environment, failed to prevent infection and dehydration, and failed to prevent sexual assault. As a result, Shea suffered severe and permanent injuries requiring significant medical expenses and has experienced pain, suffering, disfigurement and disability." 
In 2014, Brookdale was once again in the national spotlight after another resident was killed due to negligent supervision. The patient, Ms. W, had severe dementia and was placed at a facility in Michigan owned and operated by Brookdale. According to authorities, Ms. W made her way to the back of the facility and exited the building. Unfortunately the door she used to exit the building locked from the inside, and she was unable to re-enter. Due to the negligent supervision, no staff members saw Ms. W leave the building. When Ms. W realized that she could not re-enter the building, she tried an alternative route. Unfortunately, she slipped and fell and severely injured her leg. Ms. W remained in the same spot all night. No staff members noticed that she was missing, or checked up on her to make sure she was ok. Ms. W was found the next morning lying in the snow but she was unable to be revived. She froze to death in the Michigan cold. The saddest part is that she was only 25 feet from the rear door, and if Brookdale staff had done their job, this never would have happened.
What sorts of neglect exist at Brookdale living facilities?
It has been alleged that Brookdale consistently under-trains their staff on how to handle medical emergencies. The result, sadly, is that when your loved one experiences health problems, assisted medical facility staff are unable to provide the appropriate treatment. Brookdale has also been accused of letting cost of treatment dictate how it handles patient procedures. This means that if a cheaper and less reliable alternative exists, that's the route that will be taken.
Negligent staffing is also another rampant issue at Brookdale facilities. Brookdale recently settled a class-action lawsuit wherein 19,000 members sued the assisted living giant for understaffing and misrepresentation. The class action lawsuit alleged that Brookdale "misinformed residents at more than 70 assisted living facilities throughout California that its staffing levels and charges for individual care were determined by "state of the art" assessments, even though the company actually based its staffing decisions on profit goals and labor budgets."  It was determined that indeed no "state of the art" assessment was used in making staffing or charging decisions. According to court documents, "Defendants have engaged in a scheme to defraud seniors, persons with disabilities and their family members by making misrepresentations, misleading statements, and concealing material facts..."  The settlement was reported to be about $450 for each of the 19,000 members of the class action suit.
Is there no supervision of Brookdale facilities?
Assisted living facilities are completely different from nursing homes. Nursing homes receive most of their funding from programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Because they receive this government funding, they are regulated and controlled by both the state and federal government. Assisted living facilities, on the other hand, receive no federal or state money. Most of these facilities get paid monthly by residents for their care. The result is no governmental oversight. With no one to police their actions, assisted living facilities, like Brookdale, can get away with neglecting residents far longer than they should.
How should I go about selecting an assisted living facility?
Before you choose an assisted living facility for yourself or for one of your family members, do your homework. Always research the facility to ensure that there are no issues. Visit the facility and speak with other families who have already placed their loved ones there. You can learn a lot by hearing firsthand from residents. Never assume that because a facility appears to be professional, that they are providing appropriate care to their residents.
What should I do if myself or a loved one is at a facility and is being neglected?
If you have noticed signs of any type of nursing home abuse, you should immediately contact an experienced attorney to discuss how to hold the facility liable for any losses you or your loved one suffered. If you have already placed a loved one at a facility, or you yourself are at an assisted living facility, like Brookdale, and you feel as though you or your loved one is being neglected, please do not hesitate to call Mani Ellis & Layne at (304) 853-0175.