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Atlanta Georgia Elder Care And Special Needs Planning Blog

Nursing home discharge or transfer can require patient consent

The state of Georgia places strict limits on the right of nursing homes to discharge or transfer patients without consent. Even those situations in which the facility is exercising its legal right to discharge or transfer a patient require adherence to the procedures that have been prescribed by the state.

The general rule in Georgia is that no resident of a nursing home may be transferred or discharged without consent unless one of four factors has been met.

  • A non-consensual transfer or discharge is necessary for the patient's welfare, and the failure to discharge or transfer the patient will result in injury or illness to the patient or others.
  • Allowable charges are seriously delinquent.
  • The patient no longer requires the level of care currently being provided.
  • The facility is unable to meet the patient's needs.

Introduction to the Georgia Long Term Care Ombudsman Program

When planning for long-term and nursing home care, many people are worried about the possibility of abuse or neglect. Fortunately, Georgia has some protections for older residents.

Elderly people are not always capable of presenting their concerns in a way that will lead to a meaningful change in policy or procedure. This is one reason why the Older Americans Act was passed in 1965. The law gave states the power and money to establish agencies to intervene on behalf of long-term care residents. In Georgia, the agency is called the Georgia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

Understanding Medicaid waivers

As elderly people become unable to care for themselves, they often look for financial assistance from various government programs to help them find and pay for necessary care. One of the most useful program is Medicaid, the federal assistance program intended for persons with limited financial resources. Most people would prefer to remain in their homes or in an assisted living facility as they age. The state of Georgia and Medicaid have a program that is designed for such persons: the Community Care Services Program.

The CCSP is intended to help frail older adults continue to live in their homes instead of moving to a nursing care. In order to obtain Medicaid assistance, the patient must be able to convince Medicaid that he or she can remain at home at a lower cost than in a Medicaid approved nursing home or similar facility. In order to accomplish this goal, Medicaid must issue a waiver of its regulations for nursing homes and assisted living, hence the term "Medicaid waiver." The Georgia CCSP is intended to allow participants to direct a significant portion of their medical care to providers that they like.

A guardianship may help special needs children as they turn 18

Many parents of special needs children in Georgia wonder about what happens when their child turns 18. Will they lose control of the child's money? Who will make medical decisions for the child? Who will manage the child's life? Answering these questions can be some of the most difficult aspects of special needs planning. The answers to many of these and other questions will depend upon the nature and severity of the child's disability. In extreme situations where the child is not mentally competent or suffers from limited mobility or has assets that must be protected and managed, a guardianship may be the answer.

Establishing a guardianship requires an attorney to appear in court to obtain the necessary orders. Sometimes, guardianship proceedings can become intensely adversarial if the child's caregivers hold different opinions on the type of care the child requires. The creation of a guardianship gives another person nearly complete control over the child's life as an adult. The court, however, must pay attention to the child's best interests, and the judge cannot order any restrictions or special provisions that would adversely affect the child's best interests.

Special needs trust: Frequently asked questions

If you have a child with special needs, you may have some concerns about what will happen to them upon your death. While it's not easy to think about, the right plan will give the both of you peace of mind.

A special needs trust is one of the best strategies to consider, as this allows you to leave assets behind to your child without harming their ability to receive government benefits.

Nursing home/Medicaid planning and appropriate facilities

Georgia families who make the difficult decision to place a loved one in a nursing home do not do so lightly. This is done when the person's condition, illness or simply old age makes it impossible for the family to provide effective care and supervision. For some people, the facility will be certified by Medicaid with various levels of care provided and the cost mitigated by the person's eligibility to receive Medicaid.

Understanding what services are provided and who can receive these services is important when trying to have a loved on placed in a facility. Having legal assistance from a law firm that is experienced in these issues is always beneficial. These facilities will provide three different kinds of care. They are: skilled nursing, medical care and similar services; rehabilitative care because the person was injured, has a disability or an illness; and long-term care for those who need healthcare and services that go beyond room and board that are not available in the community and they need regular care.

Planning to stay in your home as you age

As people age, their ability to take care of themselves diminishes. Yet, people often want to remain in their own home as they age. While nothing about the aging process is certain or predictable, experts have prepared a number of steps that can increase a person's chances of remaining at home as they grow older.

The first step is planning for the aging process. A person should first review their current ability to take care of themselves. Any current limitations, such as the inability to bathe without assistance, will probably worsen. If a person lives alone, such limitations necessitate seeking outside care. Such care can be provided by family members, friends or professionals. A second step is to evaluate the impact of any illnesses, such as diabetes or emphysema, on a person or their spouse. Depending upon the seriousness of the illness, a care giver may have difficulty providing care for a diabetic or people with similar diseases.

How a special needs child can complicate a divorce

Most Georgians who have endured the pain of a divorce can attest to the enormous amounts of stress, anger and frustration that must be endured by each spouse before the process is concluded. Whatever unpleasantness may be associated with an ordinary divorce, the pain and stress of a divorce with a special needs child is usually far greater. If the parents of a special needs child have made the irrevocable decision to terminate their marriage, the following planning cautions may help ease the turmoil experienced by the parents and by the child.

One of the first issues that must be resolved is visitation. The typical visitation schedule used in most divorces will probably not work if the family has a special needs child. Special needs children often require consistent and carefully structured lives. The non-custodial spouse should agree to visit the child on the child's own "turf." If the non-custodial spouse is unwilling or unable to do this, the custodial parent must undertake travel. Planning the travel can be difficult, especially if the child requires special equipment. Also, any visits may need to take place close to the child's principal health care professionals.

Watch out for financial abusers working in nursing homes

The desire to give your aging loved one the best golden years possible could lead to the decision to place them in a residential care facility like a nursing home. If you simply don't have the time or personal resources to provide around-the-clock care to your loved one, relying on other people to provide that care can be a good solution for your family.

You will want to be actively involved in the process of choosing a nursing home facility, as well as monitoring your loved one's experience while there. You, no doubt, already know that nursing homes pose some risk of physical and emotional abuse, as well as neglect.

Video reveals abuse of patients by nursing home staff

Georgia families generally spend long hours researching facilities that offer elder care services. Usually, these efforts pay off with the discovery of a nursing home that can provide comprehensive and supportive care for an elderly or disabled relative. Occasionally, however, these efforts fail, and the loved one ends up in what might be termed an "abuse center" instead of a care center.

A family whose relative wound up in such an abuse center in Gordon, Georgia, recently released video clips of the staff abusing their relative. The video shows staff hitting the man with belts, punching him and encouraging other residents of the facility to hit him. The man can be seen crying and asking other residents for help. After the release of the video, the Gordon Police arrested the supposed care giver with battery and abuse and neglect of an elderly person.

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