First and foremost, Texas has an official website where you can report nursing home abuse. They also have a phone line that can be reached at 800-458-9858. This applies to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and health service providers for seniors.
We can, and will, go through the factors that give rise to nursing home abuse (such as high staff turnover, limited amounts of qualified workers, and a poor incentive structure) but we’re going to prioritize the information that will be most valuable to someone that suspects nursing home abuse.
Official Government Sources and Law
Within Texas’s Texas Health and Human Services department lies the department responsible for regulating nursing homes. This was formerly the responsibility of the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) but, as of Sept. 1, 2017, was merged with the Texas Health and Human Services. As a result, DADS is no longer a program within the state.
Perhaps the most important thing to understand is that there are numerous programs paid for by taxpayer money for state residents in need of help. Whether it be help with transportation to medical appointments or even in-home service, know that there are options.
What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse
There are over 300 nursing homes in Texas, most of which are concentrated in East Texas, that have a one-star rating according to the official government website linked above. There are eight different types of nursing home abuse and hopefully, we’ll have a standalone page about each type. However, we’ll have a unique section dedicated to that type of abuse for now.
The eight types of abuse found in nursing homes are:
Physical: This particularly nasty class of abuses details abuse that is explicitly physical such as manual beatings or even threatening to beat the patient. This does not include physical pain that is caused by neglect (see below).
Sexual: Sexual abuse in nursing constitutes the abuse of a patient who is either unwilling or unable to consent to intercourse. In addition, the assailant took advantage of the patient’s condition to abuse them sexually.
Emotional: Yes, in Texas, you can be charged (or charge someone) even if there is no obvious physical abuse. Typically this is referred to as “assault by threat.”
Financial: As made famous from the hit show Better Call Saul, financial exploitation is the up charging or (stealing) of money from senior citizens for services.
Neglect: Not checking in on, or providing basic healthcare treatment for, patients of the facility.
Confinement: Not letting a patient leave the facility or contact family or friends.
Abandonment: This goes beyond mere neglect and includes a willful attempt to deprive the patient of basic needs that the patient needs to survive (such as food or treatment).
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
The above types of nursing home abuse are common (see below) but often hard to detect. Self-reports from staff members of senior care facilities (see below) show shocking numbers regarding the abuse of senior care living facilities. The Nursing Home Abuse center put out this helpful infographic describing the ways and frequent signs of nursing home abuse.
However, the hallmark sign of neglect is poor hygiene. This is one of the few standalone signs, outside of visible injuries appearing repeatedly, that points to an immediate red flag that should be investigated and documented. One of the primary features of Senior Care facilities is to ensure that their patients maintain proper hygiene through daily baths and routine checkups.
Nursing Home Abuse Frequency
Nursing home abuse is common but before getting paranoid, let’s look at some of the stats. According to the WHO, around 1 in 6 people “60 years and older experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year.” The problem is even worse in nursing homes and long-term care facilities were “2 in 3 staff reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year.” This was a self-report where staff has self-reported that they committed some form of abuse.
Why Nursing Home Abuse Goes Underreported
Nursing Home Abuse is more complicated in track than one might imagine. Not only are nursing home patients prone to accidental injuries (such as being unable to support themselves or complications from medical treatments) but one also has to be able to attribute causal blame for these injuries to the nursing home (or a particular nurse or employee) to establish fault.
A highly cited paper published in 1973 titled Old Folks and Dirty Work: The Social Conditions for Patient Abuse in a Nursing Home argued that conditions involved in nursing homes insulated staff members from noticing abuses committed by other staff members, as well as providing them with avenues to deny that such abuses took place. Much has changed in the last four decades regarding laws on nursing homes, such as statewide auditing procedures, however, problems persist.
While there are services that provide auditing for senior care facilities, the process is extremely difficult. Staff may often get advanced warning of when auditors will be arriving and, when they do arrive, it is unlikely that the staff will commit abuse in front of the auditing staff members. However, should such an offense occur or you have reason to suspect that offense has occurred, you have plenty of options including legal recourse.
Best Nursing Homes In Texas
We’ve been interested in trying to find what constitutes “the best nursing homes” and whether one would even be able to know if they found it. Many online review systems, such as Yelp, are famously unreliable for their willingness to remove or hide bad reviews in exchange for money. As nursing homes are a lucrative industry, with insurance companies often footing the bill, there’s plenty of incentive to engage in shady business practices.
Nevertheless, we’ve crossed referenced several sites looking for the best (highest rated, longest-serving, most consistent..etc) nursing homes in the state. These three we’ve identified stood out to us.
Franklin Nursing Home, Franklin Texas
It may be difficult to know how the staff treats the community members when you’re not around, but something easy to audit is the cleanliness of the facility. Franklin Nursing home is renowned for its clean facilities and personable staff. They also have fairly limited turnover which is a terrific sign, however rare it may be in this industry.
They are located in Franklin Texas, in between Houston and Dallas.
Briarcliff Skilled Nursing Facility, Carthage Texas
Located on 4054 NW Loop in Carthage, Texas, the Briarcliff Skilled Nursing Facility of Carthage Texas has over 102 google reviews at an average rating of 4.8 stars. Despite the qualifiers above about the unreliability of online review sites, Google has recently implemented changes to its fake review removal policy.
Residents noted the home for its home-like feel and the staff’s attention to detail.
Great Plains Nursing and Rehabilitation, Dumas Texas
Located on 19th Street in Dumas, Texas, Great Plains Nursing and Rehabilitation boast a somewhat sparkling online reputation profile. Though with fewer total ratings than Briarcliff Skilled Nursing Facility, Great Plains’ 68 ratings over 4.5 are nothing to sniff about. Another establishment well known for its cleanliness (please let us know if you hear otherwise),