Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
With people living longer than ever, more and more of our family members and loved ones will spend time in a nursing home. Although most nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are reputable and provide good care for their residents, a few do not. Reported cases of abuse and neglect are rising as the number of nursing home residents rise, and the elderly and infirm are often the least able to help themselves.
Although nursing homes are regulated by government agencies that investigate and punish cases of abuse and neglect every year, officials cannot be everywhere at once. Everyone with a friend or relative in a nursing home should be aware of certain danger signs and be ready to act if they appear.
In nursing homes, the most common cause of neglect is the lack of sufficiently trained staff. With an eye on the bottom line, some facilities do not hire enough staff to properly care for their residents. Staffing shortages lead to overwork, and overwork and inexperience can lead to a breakdown in care. Neglect attributable to a lack of staff can include improper medication, failure to assist the residents with their hygiene, failure to turn the residents (leading to bedsores), and failure to adequately provide for the residents' safety and comfort.
More disturbingly, some nursing home employees take advantage of the elderly under their care. Cases of theft, assault, and even sexual assault of nursing home residents have been reported. Although such examples of outright abuse are rare, they are serious and you should be alert for signs of trouble.
If you suspect that the residents of a nursing home may be abused or neglected, follow up. A good checkup is the surprise visit, when the nursing home is not expecting you. This allows you to see how the home operates on a daily basis, rather than just the days when someone is coming to visit. When visiting, get to know the staff. Staff members can be an excellent source of information about the happenings in the home. If you do not like what you see, complain. Often, potential problems can be avoided if the nursing home is told clearly what is expected.
If you suspect a serious problem at a nursing home, report it to the appropriate authorities immediately. In addition, if you believe that a loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, call us. You may need an attorney to represent you. We will help you investigate the matter and take the legal action necessary to protect your loved one and to recover any damages that you deserve.Signs of Abuse and Neglect
What are the signs of nursing home abuse or neglect to look out for? Although a number of things might indicate that there are problems, common signs of possible trouble include:
- Soiled bed linen or the smell of feces or urine;
- Unexplained bruises or cuts;
- Use of physical or chemical restraints;
- Changes in mood or disorientation, often due to improper medication;
- Weight loss; and
- Unexplained fear or anxiety.
Trust your feelings. People can often sense trouble before they can identify a specific problem. Don't ignore your instincts.