Placement in a Long Term Care Facility when the patient wants to remain at home
I am trying to find out if there is any recourse to a situation where a person with Vascular Dementia has been placed in a long term care facility against her wishes.
I have a close friend of mine, her name is Faith and she is 79 years old and she has been diagnosed with Vascular Dementia. The only family that she had locally in Ohio is a niece who lived less than 5 minutes from her but never showed an interest, visiting only like 3 times over a 5 year period. Her other family (a sister and a niece) reside in Arizona and it was her sister that had POA designation.
In the fall of 2009, Faith had sustained a pelvic fracture through a fall in her home. It was me, her good buddy from church, that she called to come and assist her, not her niece or anybody else. After follow up with the hospital social worker, it was determined that Faith shouldn’t be living alone anymore and would require 24/7 care. She has confided in me many, many times that she was dead set against assisted living or nursing homes so we had found an agency that provided caregivers to come and stay in the home 24/7. This arrangement took some adjusting to but it was working out until Faith had a series of UTIs, which made her more non-compliant and combative. There was an instance where she was very physically combative with the caregiver, which resulted in her sustaining another fall, resulting in a fractured hip. She was naturally hospitalized for this, and it did require surgery – for which none of her family was present. Again, it was me, the friend, who was there for the surgery, to speak to the doctors pre and post operatively, etc. But they did call me frequently, wanting a blow-by-blow accounting of everything that was going on, enabling them to call the shots and make decisions without actually having to be present. So many people, ranging from people in our social circles to her attending physicians, knew of the situation as it was between Faith, her family and I. How ridiculous it all was, how the hospital had to call Arizona to get medical OK for things when I was the one who was actually there and who was actually closer with her than her own family. I was encouraged to petition for guardianship, which I did.
While she was rehabbing and not yet released from the hospital, the Arizona family did come up. And through conversations with them, it became very clear to me that their intentions were to place Faith in a LTC facility for the rest of her life, under the guise that she would be there for rehab only and then return home. Even though they knew of her wishes to remain at home for as long as it was possible. They were served notice from the court that I had petitioned for guardianship while in Ohio – and they were furious. And to be spiteful, had instructed the director at the LTC facility to bar me from being able to have visitation with Faith; it took me seeking help from the Office of the Long Term CAre Ombudsmen to get her visitation rights re-established.
To make a really long story short (at least shorter), the niece that lived locally had challenged my petition for guardianship. Not that she really had a sincere interest in caring for her aunt, but because she was no doubt put up to it after conversations with the Arizona people (her mother and sis), whom, incidentally, she hadn’t been close to herself in years. Seems they were all afraid that I was after Faith’s money and would drain their inheritance if I would have been appointed guardian (really stupid way to think because most people know that there is a high and very much accountability bar there) The judge was obligated to appoint the niece the guardian because of how the law is set up in our state – family members, even though they may have been very uncaring and distanced,take precedence over non-family petitioners in guardianship cases.
She has determined and decided that Faith would do best in a LTC facility, not taking one bit into account that this is not in accordance with Faith’s wishes nor the fact that she has enough money to remain in her own home. And that is how it stands now.
It is heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking, for me to go and visit her in that nursing home. I had to suspend visits for awhile because I often left there too depressed and angry-feeling that I had let my friend down and had broke my promise to her to keep her out of a place like that. I have prayed alot on it, though and searched my soul and have resumed visits with her. But it is absolutely heartbreaking and nothing has changed: I am forever being asked “Honey, when are we going home?”, clearly, her remaining unchanged and not wanting to be in there.
Somebody PLEASE tell me there is some recourse here!! I have talked with my lawyer and she tells me no, that all of Faith’s rights were forfeited when she was declared incompetent. And then goes further to add insult to injury by saying, “Maybe she’s is the best place for her, care-wise.” To which I say NOT!! You may know case law BUT YOU DON’T KNOW MY FRIEND.
Any feedback here would be much appreciated. Thanks.