St. Charles Herald-Guide

Complaints of neglect leveled at nursing home

Kyle Barnett - October 4, 2013

Complaints of neglect, poor treatment and rude behavior by staff members have been leveled at a local nursing home by family members of residents living at the facility.

Over the past four years, Luling Living Center has consistently received a below average rating on their annual inspection report, largely due to not having enough registered nurses on staff. In past years they have also been cited for not providing optimal care for their residents.

Despite the center receiving only one deficiency in their latest inspection that was conducted in April, some family members are speaking out about what they are calling neglect at the facility.

Lillian Bergeron has lived in the nursing home for the past eight months after suffering a stroke and a progression in her Alzheimer’s disease. She is also a diabetic.

Her husband, John Bergeron, said it is unlikely his wife will ever be able to come back home and that Luling Living Center is conveniently close to his Bayou Gauche home.

Lillian’s children also live in the area.

“I would imagine she will spend the rest of her life here. I would like to keep her here. It is closer for everybody and it is closer for me. I can come over here every day,” he said.  

However, he has been displeased at times with the care his wife has received.

John said on numerous occasions he has found his wife, who can no longer care for herself at all, soaked in urine or with feces in her diaper. On a recent visit he found Lillian, who had soiled herself, in the dining room.

“They brought her back in the room and changed her after I complained about it. If I wouldn’t have been there and complained about it she would have went in the kitchen dirty,” John said.

He said the fact that he had to notify the staff of the issue, especially when she had obviously just been handled by a staff member, is a problem not only for him, but for other residents who may not have family members coming in as often.

“It’s not only happening with my wife but with other people who can’t help themselves,” John said.

In addition to experiencing problems with the care his wife is receiving, Bergeron said he has also had conflict with the nursing home staff when he has brought aspects of her care to their attention.

On one occasion, he said he was cursed at by a staff member.

“I just asked her ‘would you check my wife’s diabetes to see if her blood sugar is low or high?’” John said. “She turned around and told me, ‘You need to mind your own f******* business!’”

Mike Guillera, who has been the administrator of Luling Living Center for the past 10 years, said it is sometimes a struggle to deal with family members.

“If someone is constantly accusing you of not doing your job and you know you are doing your job, you are going to be upset with it,” he said. “So someone told him something  and he got upset, but he is part of our facility as well and we understand that even though he is not a resident, he is part of the facility.”

Despite John’s complaints, Guillera feels his staff is doing the best job they possibly can and the fact that they only received one deficiency on their last inspection is evidence of that.

“When you have people take care of people there are going to be mistakes. We are never going to lie about that, but we are always going to work with everybody,” he said.

When it comes to ensuring residents are not soiled, it is standard procedure for each resident to be checked at least once every two hours to make sure they are clean and do not need to be changed.

Guillera said that his staff follows protocol, but it is understandably upsetting for a family member to find that a loved one has soiled themselves and needs to be changed.  

“It’s just like when you have children, you don’t have alarms going off telling you their diaper is wet and then the family comes in and finds they are wet. That doesn’t mean they’ve been sitting there all day on that because it is just a matter of timing,” Guillera said.  

However, another person who has a family member living at the facility, and who chose to remain anonymous, said her father is of sound mind, but is limited in his mobility and needs assistance with daily care. She has found him in similar circumstances.

Prior to living in Luling Living Center he was in another area nursing home where he did not experience any issues, but she said she decided to move him closer to her so she could see him more often and be on hand should an emergency arise.

On a recent visit, she said she found him in a urine soaked diaper that he said he had been sitting in for several hours.

“I went there and my dad had been wet all day. He said, ‘I’ve been buzzing them for someone to change me. They are always so busy that they can’t get to me,’” she said.

There have been other instances in which she has been concerned about her father’s care, such as him being left in the same clothes day and night between the showers that he gets every two days.

She said she has expressed her concerns to nursing home staff in attempt to get them to change the way they handle her father’s care.

“I asked them ‘What if this was your dad? Would you treat him that way? Would you want him to be treated that way?’”

Similar to John, she has also had conflict with staff members when she has brought up concerns.

On one visit, she said she noticed that her father’s roommate’s catheter bag was leaking and she brought it to the staff’s attention.

“His catheter bag was so full it was leaking on the floor. Do you know what they told me? ‘You just worry about your dad right now,’” she said. “Well, this is my dad’s roommate and that is unsanitary so if you don’t change his catheter bag it does become an issue for my dad.”

Despite her concerns, she said she realizes that the nursing home staff has a difficult job.

“I know that all nursing homes are not perfect. I know that they deal with the elderly and people that are not in their right mind so they have their work cut out for them,” she said.

But she said at times it seems like workers do not care about the quality of care they are giving, even when she has brought it to their attention.

“I’ve gone to the administration. I’ve had several meetings. They stand in front of you and say that something is going to happen, but nothing changes,” she said.

Guillera said Luling Living Center makes every effort to deal with the concerns of family members when they make complaints. He added that there are a lot of emotions surrounding people who find themselves having to visit their family members in a nursing home facility.

“Nobody ever wants to put anyone in a nursing home. We are starting off on a bad footing to begin with,” he said.

Despite the problems the family members of Luling Living Center’s residents claim to have experienced, Guillera points to the facility’s inspection record as evidence that their care has improved over the past few years.

The nursing home had seven deficiencies in 2011, six 2012 and only one in 2013. In comparison, Luling Living Center has better recent health standard ratings than the Ormond Nursing and Care Center in Destrehan.

Guillera said as those deficiencies have been brought to their attention, they have fixed the problems.

“This past year we only had one deficiency under health standards, which is very good. We are not below average,” he said.

Guillera said the below average Medicare rating the nursing home has received is solely based on the number of registered nurses a facility has, which he admits are lacking at Luling Living Center.

But on a daily basis he said that he and his staff are trying to provide the best care they possibly can and that he is taken aback by the accusations against his facility.

“I am surprised and disappointed at the same time,” he said. “It’s a small facility and we try to do a family approach, which means it is a team approach. We are not going to please all of them, but we definitely do try to work with every one of them.”

Complaints of neglect  leveled at nursing home