Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
When it comes to nursing home abuse and neglect, trust your feelings. People can often sense trouble before they can identify a specific problem. Don’t ignore your instincts. Nursing home patients are among the most vulnerable individuals in our society. Like children in their dependence on others, they cannot fend for themselves and must rely on assistance and care from those around them. This dependency makes them susceptible to nursing home negligence.
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, you need to 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 the following:
- 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
- Unexplained fear or anxiety
If you are interested in receiving help on your potential nursing home or assisted living facility-related claim, please contact us for a free case evaluation or call our Winter Haven office at 863-618-1100.