How Has Missoula Protected Its Elderly Residents From Abuse?

While the majority of senior citizens in Montana can use care homes and residential support safe in the knowledge that they will receive only the best care, some elderly residents are unfortunately targeted for abuse. This is the subject of House Bill 566, 205 and Senate Bill 311, which the Missoula Current highlight as legislative efforts to ensure that senior citizens are safe throughout the state. While this indicates a general state-wide nod towards securing these rights, what is the reality for senior citizens living in Missoula today?

Litigation protections

Elder abuse can often be a tricky legal subject for traditional law enforcement and regulations. A notable example of this within Montana occurred at a Flathead nursing facility, about two hours drive from Missoula. In this instance, NBC Montana noted how overworked conditions and a lack of oversight gave way to what amounted to the abuse of elderly residents within a care home. These incidents are thankfully few in number due to the efforts of a strong litigation environment. In many cases, nursing home abuse lawyers are experienced in picking apart what does or doesn’t constitute neglect under a resident’s legal rights, meaning that private legal protection is a strong influencer on general standards.

Problems under the surface

What cases like the Flathead facility have highlighted is the potential for under-the-surface problems in care and nursing homes that are only being discovered due to exceptional circumstances. NBC highlighted the case of this in the Butte Center, which has been sued after a COVID-19 assessment brought out many startling findings in the running of the care home that could amount to neglect. What this shows is that, even with all vigilance, Montana and Missoula can do better with addressing the problem across the state.

Future solutions

The bills moving through state house and senate are a great step forward. Backing this up with strong litigation and a focus on making sure that every family has a recourse to action is the next logical step. Inspections have shown that the problems facing care homes are serious, but with proper assistance, they can be challenged, and better standards brought about.

Ultimately, this is crucial not just for those families involved, but for the community at large. Care homes are a critical service that provide much needed care and respite for elderly citizens across the state. For them to be in a positive state is of benefit to everyone.