Law Offices of Barry Doyle - April 2019

One of the most difficult decisions adults have to make is whether or not to put their parents into a nursing home. On top of that, deciding which nursing home is the best option can be equally grueling. That’s why I created the Nursing Home Peace of Mind Kit, which is designed to help people looking for answers to the most common questions regarding nursing home selection. Putting your parents into a nursing home can be overwhelming. A lot of people have a hard time accepting their parents need extra help that they can’t provide. It can also be difficult to distinguish between a good or bad home; a nursing home can sometimes look and feel like the best choice at a glance but come up short upon closer inspection. A little digging might reveal the nature of the home, but too often people don’t realize a home’s true quality until their parents have been placed there. The Nursing Home Peace of Mind Kit breaks down the choosing process into three vital components: Picking the “right” nursing home for your parent, setting your parent up for success, and handling problems. The first component, picking the “right” home for your parent, requires a great deal of care and scrutiny. You don’t want to pick just any nursing home. It’s important to see what options are available to you and your parent and how to weigh them. The second component, setting your parent up for success, involves learning the roles of nursing staff, and the people who fill them, at the home you’re considering. If you can, sit down with the director of nursing and ask any questions you may have about the home. The third component, handling problems, is all about what happens once your parents are in a home and what to do if problems come up. Even if you follow the first two steps to the letter, there are no guarantees that things will go well. It’s essential to know what to do should a situation arise. Not every situation calls for the help of a lawyer, and you need to know what options you have to work cooperatively with the staff. It is important to understand that a nursing home admission is a very different animal than a hospital admission. Hospital admissions rarely run more than a few days; anything more than a week is really unusual.

Nursing home admissions are rarely shorter than a few weeks and may run for years. Staying on top of things while your parent is in a nursing home is a grind, so you want to take the steps necessary to set yourself up for success from the word “go.” I have been through the process of trying to find a good place for my parents. Over the last 7–8 years, both of my parents have had multiple nursing home stays. There is a place by their home that they like, but that facility has not always had beds available when they needed one, so finding a Plan B, C, etc., has given me some insight into this process that not every lawyer who handles nursing home cases has. I count myself lucky that my parents have always had good experiences with the nursing homes they have been admitted to, but I always keep in mind that bad things happen even in good nursing homes, and I find myself hoping for the best no matter how hard we work to find the “right” nursing home for my parents.

I encourage you to get your own copy of the Nursing Home Peace of Mind Kit if you find yourself in that position.

– Barry G. Doyle


Scamming older adults has become big business. According to the American Journal for Public Health, an estimated 5 percent of seniors are hoodwinked by criminals every year, and that statistic is thought to be a steep underestimate since so many scams go unreported. To stem the tide of seniors unknowingly giving $36 billion to scammers annually, it’s important for retirees and their loved ones to get savvy on the subject.

COMPUTER SOFTWARE SERVICE FRAUD This type of scam is slightly more sophisticated. First, a hacker will call a victim and claim to be a member of a tech support team or an employee from a trusted company like Microsoft or Apple. Then, they’ll tell the victim there is a problem with their phone or computer and that if they cooperate with the “tech support” representative, they can sort it out. They may also ask you to install a piece of software on your device or provide credit card information to “validate your software.” The fact is that well-known tech companies will never send unsolicited emails to ask for your personal or financial information, and they definitely won’t ask you to install some shady software on your computer. If you ever receive a call out of the blue from “Microsoft,” hang up the phone immediately. The first step to stopping these criminals in their tracks is to be aware of their tactics. With these tips in your arsenal, you’ll be able to defend yourself and your bank account effectively.

Here are the two of the most common scams older folks fall prey to — and how to avoid them.

ADVANCED FEE FRAUD The most common con in 2017 and 2018 was the classic “You’ve won a sweepstakes!” scam. Victims are told they’ve won some exorbitant amount of money, but they must pay a fee to receive the prize. After the “fee” is paid, victims receive a fake check in the mail, but by the time it bounces, the scammers are gone and they’ve taken the money. If you ever receive a contract from an unknown entity out of nowhere, you should start seeing red flags. Unless you remember entering a contest, there is no chance you’ve won something. And it’s vital to understand that it is never safe to give out financial information over the phone or via email.

In both cases, a survey team is sent to the nursing home in question. If the team finds that there has been a rules violation, they issue a notice of deficiency citation. When a nursing home receives a notice of deficiency, the facility can react in one of two ways. A home can submit a plan of correction to ensure the violation won’t occur again. These plans usually consist of steps to prevent the problem from recurring, including addressing the issue directly or sometimes further educating the staff. Alternatively, the nursing home can dispute the findings of a survey team. If the nursing home can prove they were not in violation, then the notice of deficiency may be withdrawn. However, if the nursing home fails their dispute, the facility can face additional penalties including hefty fines or, in severe cases, closure. All nursing homes are obligated to comply with regulations issued by the federal government and the State of Illinois. When these regulations are violated, filing a complaint ensures that the violation is corrected. The problem that led to the violation will be addressed, protecting families and even staff from potential mismanagement, and the evidence of a survey team’s notes can be used in a civil lawsuit should there be a need for one.

The Illinois Department of Public Health handles all complaints against nursing homes and determines whether they are compliant with regulations. When someone files a complaint against a nursing home, the nursing home and the IDPH have very strict processes they must follow. Once the IDPH receives a complaint, the nursing home undergoes an inspection, also called a survey. A survey takes place for one of two reasons. A complaint survey can be submitted either through a healthcare provider, by family members, or by the nursing home itself through an incident report. Additionally, an annual licensing survey takes place once every 12 months and is a comprehensive evaluation of the facilities operations.

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Keeping areas free and clear of tripping or slipping hazards

Reducing medications

Using assistive devices such as a cane or a walker

Assisting or supervising patients while walking

Once a care plan is put into place, the nursing staff is obligated to carry it out day-to-day and shift-to-shift. This plan should also be revised depending on each resident’s needs as their conditions change. When a fall does occur, the nursing staff should monitor the resident closely to ensure no other injuries or health problems arise due to the fall. A nursing home can be held liable if the care plan has been violated in any way. If the staff has failed to perform a proper assessment of a residents risk; failed to develop an appropriate care plan to address those risks; failed to carry out the care plan; or failed to revise the plan when necessary; legal action can be taken to protect residents. At the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, we understand the importance of care plans. Our firm takes a close look at the care planning process and the faults that may have been included in that plan. If you’ve had a parent or loved one injured or killed as a result of a fall in an Illinois nursing home, contact our offices using the number below right away.

The risk of falling at home is one of the most common reasons that families finally agree to admit a parent to a nursing home – they are just not safe to stay at home on their own. One of the base line promises that nursing homes make is that they will do what is necessary to keep your mom or dad safe. When you admit your mom or dad to a nursing home, the underlying issues that cause falls at home often do not go away – and may get worse. If nursing homes are going to carry out the promise to keep your parent safe, they need to find a way to address the risk of falling. That is where the care planning process comes into play. When a resident is admitted to a nursing home, the nursing home is required to develop a care plan to address that risk. That care plan lowers the patient’s risk of falling or minimizes injury if a fall does occur. Here are some of the most common risk reduction measures.

This super easy stir-fry is the perfect weekday dinner. It manages to pack a ton of flavor using just a handful of ingredients.

3 slices bacon

3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

2 bunches spinach

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Heat a large skillet to medium.

Physical therapy or restorative therapy to improve strength and balance

2. While skillet is warming, cut bacon into squares.

Placing floor mats or padding

3. Cook bacon until fat is rendered and

bacon is almost to your desired doneness. If desired, you can remove bacon fat from skillet and replace with 1 tablespoon oil. However, keeping the fat is recommended for flavor.

4. Add garlic and cook for 1–2 minutes.

5. Add spinach and crushed red pepper and stir-fry for 10 minutes.

6. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

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Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. 10 S. LaSalle Street Suite 2160 Chicago, IL 60603 (312) 263-1080


LOU, COMBS, AND BABE — OH MY! Considered one of the best teams in baseball history, the 1927 New York Yankees started their historic run and 25th season by dismantling the Philadelphia Athletics with a score of 8–3. The slugfest was true to form for the 1927 Yankees, whose players would go on to make up baseball’s famous “Murderers’ Row.” With sluggers like Lou Gehrig, Earle Combs, Babe Ruth, Mark Koenig, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri, it’s no wonder this team went on to win its fifth championship that year. THE HAMMER TIES BAMBINO For decades, no one could match George Herman Ruth. The Great Bambino’s all-time home run record seemed like an impossible feat of strength — that is, until Henry “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron came along. On opening day, April 4, 1974, Aaron smashed his 714th homer, tying Babe Ruth for the most home runs ever hit and extending the Atlanta Braves’ shutout lead over the Cincinnati Reds. A few weeks later, Aaron surpassed Ruth’s record, prompting a standing ovation from the crowd.

B aseball’s opening day has been an American holiday of sorts since the Cincinnati Red Stockings threw out the first major league pitch in 1869. To celebrate the start of the 150th season of professional baseball, here are three of the best opening days in baseball history. A NEW BEGINNING On April 15, 1947, an opening-day game changed the course of Major League Baseball. On this day, Jackie Robinson started for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African-American player to start for a major league baseball team. Robinson’s historic showing was lackluster, going 0-for-3 at the plate and making a solid showing on the infield at first base, but his mere presence in a Dodgers uniform had already broken history. Despite his nationally-recognized skills — Robinson was named MVP of the MLB farm team league in 1946 — the backlash that followed his rise to the pros, both from fans and teammates, was palpable. Still, as well-known sportscaster Howard Cosell said, “Suddenly, it was a new beginning.”

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