Abuse & Neglect at Nursing Homes: What family members should know and options available. Screening for the right elderly facility.
All across the country, there are millions of aging adults in need of care. And while many of the elderly are fortunate enough to age in place or live with family, there are many who have no other alternative aside from living in a nursing home.
Nursing homes provide 24/7 care for those who can no longer safely care for themselves, and for those who need special care around the clock. However, many nursing homes are also poorly funded or lack particular resources. And this can create many problems for residents.
Among the many issues that nursing homes are associated with, allegations of abuse and neglect top the list. And this often occurs at underfunded and poorly staffed facilities. This is why properly vetting a nursing home is essential before you allow your loved one to stay in their care.
If you’re thinking about nursing homes as an option for care for your loved one, the following will explore the prevalence of abuse in nursing homes.
Forms of Abuse
As you probably already know, abuse can come in many forms. But when it comes to nursing home abuse, this often comes in the form of neglect.
The common forms of abuse in nursing homes are as follows:
- Verbal abuse
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
While proving abuse can be difficult without evidence and documentation, any hint of abuse should never go unreported. As such, common signs of abuse can be in the form of bruising, red marks on the wrists, ankles, neck, and face, bedsores, untreated wounds, and the like.
As mentioned, neglect is often the main form of abuse in nursing homes. And this is often due to staffing shortages, a lack of resources, or poorly trained staff members. Neglect can also come in many forms, from signs of poor nutrition to a lack of required medication, dehydration, bedsores that have become infected, or resident rooms that haven’t been cleaned properly.
Additionally, if you suspect that your loved one has been abused, the best path forward is to report the abuse to the appropriate authorities and hire an experienced attorney who will sue nursing homes allowing abuse.
Reasons for Neglect
When referencing neglect, it’s important to understand that any form of neglect needs to be addressed promptly. Otherwise, if this type of behavior continues it can pose a serious risk to the health and safety of your loved one.
Unlike medical malpractice cases, neglect is defined as a failure to provide the necessary care, goods, or services in order for the patient to avoid significant mental or physical harm. Unfortunately, neglect in nursing homes is often the result of a lack of oversight, poorly trained staff, or because of staff members who lack interest in caring for elderly patients.
For example, in a 2020 study, the WHO reported that nearly 12 percent of nursing home members (or their families) reported instances of abuse due to neglect.
A few common forms of neglect are as follows:
- Ignoring complaints
- Failure to report or care for injuries
- Not providing daily bathing
- Improper medication dosage
- Failure to clean resident rooms regularly
- Leaving critically ill patients unattended
Neglect can lead to serious physical injury or death. As such, the signs of neglect should always be taken seriously whenever they arise.
Knowing Your Rights
If your loved one lives in a nursing home and you’ve been noticing peculiar signs, or if you’ve noticed altered behavior or anything suspicious, you should report this immediately.
Most nursing homes allow visitation from loved ones during specific hours. And this is your window to ensure that adequate care is being provided. At any time, a family member can report any issues that need to be addressed to the nursing home management staff or the ombudsman. And if these issues are not resolved, your next step is to report your allegations of abuse or neglect to the local authorities.
You and your loved ones have the right to adequate care and transparency regarding the treatment of anyone entrusted to the care of a nursing home facility. And once you have documentation of abuse, taking your case to court to sue for abuse will be made much easier.
Life in a nursing home may not be the most ideal, but sometimes our loved ones have no other alternative. However, abuse in any form should never be tolerated. And if you suspect abuse in any form, it’s up to you to ensure that the abuse is stopped and the responsible party is held accountable.