Click To Call

Email Us For A Free Consultation

No fees for inquiries

(Free consultations are available only in personal injury cases
& it costs nothing to inquire). All inquiries are confidential.
Read our disclaimer

HKQ Firm News

Nursing Homes: Choosing, Paying & Monitoring Abuse

HKQ Nursing Home & Elder Abuse Lawyer Rick BishopThe decision to move into a nursing home, or to place a loved one in a nursing home, can be extremely difficult. Finding the “right” nursing home can also be difficult. At HKQ Law, we want to help make the process a little easier for you. Here are some tips.

Find nursing homes in your area.

Ask people you trust - like your family, friends, or neighbors - if they’ve had personal experience with nursing homes as they may have recommendations. A hospital’s staff may assist in finding a nursing home that meets your needs and can help you with your transfer when you’re ready to be discharged. Find out if your doctor provides care at any local nursing homes. If so, ask your doctor which nursing homes he or she visits.

Compare the quality of the nursing homes you are considering.

Visit to compare facilities. You can also call the Pennsylvania Department of Health as the State’s Licensing Agency to see if they have written information on the quality of care given in local nursing homes.

Visit the nursing homes you are interested in or have someone visit for you.

Make an appointment to visit.  You can also make unscheduled visits as well. Staffing can be different at different times of the day and on weekends. Here are some questions to ask when you visit:


  • Is the nursing home close to family and friends so they can visit often? (It is best for the nursing home to be one that family and friend can visit often. People in nursing homes who have regular visitors receive better care.)


  • Is the nursing home and its current administrator licensed by the State and are they in good standing?


  • Is the nursing home Medicare- and/or Medicaid-certified?
  • How long has the facility been certified?


  • Is a bed available now, or is there a waiting list? If so, how long will it take before a bed is available?


  • Does the nursing home provide a safe environment?
  • Are personal belongings secure in residents’ rooms?
  • Is the nursing home locked at night?
  • Is the facility well lit?
  • Does the nursing home have smoke detectors and sprinklers?
  • Are exits clearly marked?
  • Are handrails and grab bars appropriately placed in the hallways and bathrooms?


  • What does the nursing home do to prevent falls?
  • How does the facility handle a fall?
  • Is the resident checked later in the shift for injuries that were not apparent at first - such as a closed head injury that would make a person act more confused than normal?
  • How are family members informed that resident has fallen?


  • Does the nursing home conduct background check on their entire staff?
  • Are there enough staff members to provide needed care?
  • How many caregivers does each resident have?
  • Does the staff appear to be overworked?
  • How does the staff interact with each other? (That can be indicative of how the staff treats residents.)
  • Do staff members interact well with residents?
  • Will the staff respond quickly to calls for help?

Medical care

  • Is there is a physician who is used by most of the residents? If so, what are his/her qualifications? How often is a doctor on the premises?
  • Can the resident receive care from his/her own physician at the nursing home?

Specialty care

  • Does the facility have an Alzheimer’s unit or other special care area restricted to residents with special care needs?

Preventive care

  • Does the nursing home make sure residents get preventive care to help keep them healthy?
  • Are specialists like eye doctors, ear doctors, dentists, and podiatrists available to see residents on a regular basis?
  • Does the nursing home have a screening program for vaccinations including influenza and pneumonia? (Nursing homes are required to provide flu shots each year, but residents have the right to refuse if they don’t want the shot, have already been immunized during the immunization period, or if the shots are medically inadvisable.)


  • Does the nursing home have an arrangement with a nearby hospital for emergencies?
  • Can the resident’s doctor care for him/her at that hospital?

Food & dining

  • Does the nursing home provide a pleasant dining experience?
  • Do residents dine in a communal dining room or in their own rooms?
  • Does the staff help residents eat and drink at mealtimes if help is needed?
  • What types of meals does the nursing home serve? (Ask the nursing home if you can see a menu.)
  • Are nutritious snacks available throughout the day and evening?
  • Do residents have a choice of food items at each meal? (Are there options and substitutes available if a resident doesn’t like a particular meal?)
  • Can the nursing home accommodate special dietary needs?


  • Are there resident policies residents must follow? (Get a written copy of these policies.)


If specialized medical services are not available on premises (such as dialysis), how is transportation arranged?

Will they provide transportation to doctor appointments?


  • What kind of activities are planned each day for the residents? (Some examples are movies, musical events, religious services, bingo.)


  • Which services are included in the monthly fee?
  • Which services cost extra?

Get a copy of the facility’s fee schedule. (Medicare- and/or Medicaid-certified nursing homes must tell you this information in writing.)

Nursing home care can be very expensive. In Pennsylvania, the median annual nursing home cost can exceed $100,000. Nursing home care is paid by private payment, long-term care insurance, Veteran’s benefits or Medicaid. Medicare generally does not cover long-term care stays (room and board) in a nursing home. Most people who enter nursing homes begin by paying for their care out-of-pocket. As the individual’s financial resources are “spent down”, he or she may become eligible for Medicaid.

HKQ Law Attorney Richard Bishop notes that “through long-term health care and Medicaid Planning, we can help people qualify for Medicaid more quickly, and we can also help protect homes from Medicaid Estate Recovery liens. States are required by federal law to recover from probate assets the amount of Medicaid spent on a patient following the patient’s death.”

Health care advance directives

The nursing home may ask about the existence of a health care advance directive. There are two common types of such directives:

A living will: A living will is a written legal document that shows what type of treatments your loved one wants or does not want if he or she can’t speak for themselves. Usually, this document only comes into effect if your loved one is unconscious.

A durable power of attorney for health care: This legal document names someone else to make health care decisions for your loved one. This is helpful if he or she becomes unable to make decisions.

HKQ Law can assist in the preparation of these documents.


It is estimated that about 5 million Americans are affected by elder abuse each year. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes offer a safe refuge. Older persons who live in community settings, such as nursing homes, are abused more often than older persons living in other settings. Studies conducted by the National Center on Elder Abuse found that 44% of the nursing facility residents surveyed had been abused, and 95% of those surveyed reported that they had been neglected or had seen other residents neglected. More than 50% of nursing home staff admitted to mistreating nursing home residents.

Common types of nursing home abuse:

Physical Abuse – The intentional infliction of physical pain or injury to the victim. This may include hitting, slapping, or restraining by physical or chemical means.

Emotional Abuse – The deliberate infliction of mental pain, anguish or distress through either verbal or non-verbal acts.

Sexual Abuse – Any nonconsensual sexual act. This may include unwanted touching, sexual assault or battery, and coerced nudity.

Neglect – The failure of a caregiver to meet the needs of the patient or resident. This commonly occurs when a resident doesn’t receive proper medical, physical, or emotional attention.

Financial Exploitation – Illegally taking, misusing or concealing patient’s personal funds, property or assets.

Warning signs of abuse

  • broken bones or fractures
  • bruising, cuts or welts
  • bed sores
  • dehydration
  • malnutrition
  • poor hygiene
  • fear of being alone
  • agitation
  • frequent crying
  • overwhelming sadness
  • complaints of poor treatment

Nursing home mistreatment can result in serious injury or even death. If you believe your loved one might have been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact HKQ Law at 570-287-3000 or online at We can help.


About HKQ Law

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms that has had the privilege of representing more families in the courtroom than any other NEPA firm. The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Report, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. HKQ Law was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, Jr., has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history. The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A Quinn, Jr. is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. In addition, Best Lawyers, in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report, has designated HKQ a Tier 1 Best Law Firm across multiple categories in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at or by calling (800) 760-1529.



As Hourigan, Kluger and Quinn addresses the concerns raised by COVID-19, the health and safety of our clients, employees and friends of the firm remain our top priority.

These are very difficult and scary times and we hope that you and your loved ones are safe and symptom free. We recognize that so many of you are understandably anxious about your health, the economic impact of this pandemic and all of the consequences of social isolation.

We also recognize that many of you are anxious about how the coronavirus is impacting the Court systems, our firm and your cases. Although all of our offices are closed, our firm has remained fully operational and we have initiated procedures that allow all of our attorneys and staff to work remotely from their homes. Each of us and our staff will respond to any emails and calls about your cases as quickly as possible.

Our Federal and State Courts have instituted significant changes in their calendars as a result of the coronavirus. Although most courthouses are closed to the public, and Hearings and Trials will be delayed for some time, there are matters that can proceed telephonically and by video. Despite these changes in the Court calendars, we are working diligently on your cases and are determined to do whatever we possibly can to assure an early and just recovery for you and your loved ones. Even under these difficult circumstances, we believe that "Nobody will work harder for you than we will."

With regard to new potential clients, we are not in a position to have an in-person new client meeting, but we will be conducting these initial meetings via phone. New potential clients should call us for a free telephone consultation at (570) 287-3000.


Back to Top