Memory Care Unit Has Unique Legal Risks

Many of the risks seen in Memory Care are the same risks that arise in skilled nursing and assisted living.  However, there are unique legal risks inherent in the provision of memory care services that leadership should not ignore.  While this article is not an exhaustive list of those risks, some of the often-overlooked enhanced risks are identified below.

By: Karen Davila

Memory Care in the CCC

The existence of a Memory Care Unit allows residents to remain in the CCC longer, but the risks of caring for those individuals increases substantially.  Memory Care services are generally provided in a secure (“closed”) unit with staff with specialized trained to understand the unique needs of residents with dementia.  Risks are different from those elsewhere in the CCC in part due to (a) the geographic and physical isolation (restricted ingress/egress) that are common for Memory Care Units; and (b) the unique capabilities and vulnerabilities of residents, rendering them unable to comply with safety guidance and participate meaningfully in analysis of any adverse event.  Because of this, leadership should recognize and attempt to mitigate risks associated with falls, elopements, aggressive/disruptive behaviors, infectious disease, adequacy of staff training, and 24/7 staff supervision, among others.  Additional thoughts and considerations on each of these are discussed below.Continue reading

Real Risks of Caregivers on Continuing Care Community Property

Providing a high-quality and safe environment and care for vulnerable seniors is a top priority for continuing care communities (CCCs).  Senior communities that provide a full continuum for seniors aging in place (including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care) often focus their safety concerns and resources on the licensed areas of the community, where falls and skin breakdown are the subject of lawsuits.  Sometimes overlooked are the risks that arise when independent living residents bring their own personal caregivers into the community to support their needs.

Growing Use of Personal Caregivers

More and more seniors are finding safety and security in CCCs throughout the country.  And, as they age in place, maintaining that independence often involves the use of personal caregivers who come into the CCCs and create additional risks.  Each time a personal caregiver is allowed admittance to the CCC, real risk is created- and that risk can lead to legal liability, including:

  • Injury to other residents
  • Injury to the resident that hired the caregiver
  • Injury to the caregiver caused by other residents
  • Slip, trip and fall (or other general liability claims) by the caregiver against the CCC
  • Theft/damage to property

But there are a few basic steps that a CCC can do to reduce those risks, while still allowing residents their independence.  Here are some simple considerations:Continue reading