Neglect & Abuse in Nursing Homes
When we place our loved ones in a nursing home or long-term care facility, we are entrusting those establishments to care for and love them. While many facilities provide loving care to their residents, some do not. Many nursing home patients tragically suffer from neglect or abuse each year in such facilities. It is important to understand the signs of nursing home neglect as well as how to seek justice for your loved ones who have suffered. Here, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Peter Angelos P.C. offer guidance on both.
Overview of Nursing Home Neglect & Abuse
Nursing home abuse is the blatant mistreatment of residents in assisted living facilities. This can be done intentionally or unintentionally and can result in trauma, medical emergencies, and even death.
Nursing home neglect falls under the umbrella of abuse. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “neglect is the failure to meet basic needs. These needs can include food, water, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and essential medical care.” In a nursing home environment, this includes residents suffering from improper care, resulting in physical or mental harm, illness, or even death. While it is less pronounced than abuse, nursing home neglect can have detrimental effects on the victims.
Unfortunately, abuse and neglect are common in nursing homes. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 15.3% of elder abuse complaints in nursing homes are for neglect. A study conducted by the World Health Organization found that 1 in 3 people have been victims of nursing home abuse. Further, 2 in 3 staff members surveyed claimed they had abused or neglected their residents. Staffing shortages, improper hiring procedures, and lack of funding can all contribute to the causes of such terrible acts.
Examples of Nursing Home Abuse
While physical abuse may be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about nursing home abuse, it is important to understand that abuse can take many different forms in a nursing home. They are as follows:
Physical abuse: causing physical harm to nursing home residents. This may include pushing, kicking, hitting, pinching, or dragging a resident.
Emotional abuse: causing harm to a resident’s psychological well-being. This may include yelling at residents, taunting them, isolating residents from friends or family, or belittling them.
Sexual abuse: any unwanted sexual activity.
Financial abuse: any instance where a staff member manipulates a resident’s personal finances for their own gain.
Examples of Nursing Home Neglect
As stated earlier, nursing home neglect falls under the umbrella of nursing home abuse. Although it is a type of abuse, neglect typically is not tied to a single action. Rather, it is a cumulation of many instances in which a nursing home and its staff failed to meet a resident’s basic needs. Negligence can come in many forms.
Medical Neglect: any time nursing home staff fails to meet a resident’s health care needs. This can include failure to administer medications when needed, improper medical care for existing health problems, not regularly moving seniors with mobility issues, or not reporting signs of infections or illnesses to nurses or doctors.
Social or Emotional Neglect: failing to support residents’ social or emotional needs. This can occur if staff accidentally isolate vulnerable residents, fail to provide canes, wheelchairs, or walkers to those residents with mobility issues, or forget to move residents with severe mobility or mental issues.
Neglect of Basic Living Needs: occurs when nursing homes or its staff fail to keep the facility and its amenities safe. This may include failing to keep the nursing home at a comfortable temperature, not cleaning common areas or residents’ rooms on a regular basis, or providing inadequate or unsafe food or water.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Often, elderly individuals in nursing homes may not have the mental capacity to understand that abuse or neglect is occurring, or they may not have the physical ability to stop it. It is important that family members and loved ones understand the warning signs of abuse or neglect in nursing home settings so that they can be advocates for their beloved nursing home residents.
Warning signs of physical abuse:
- Bedsores or pressure ulcers
- Broken and fractured bones
- Bruises, burns, and welts on the skin
- Cuts, lacerations, and skin tears
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Fatigue, insomnia, or other sleep disorders
- Head or dental injuries
- Illness or infection
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Unexplained weight loss
- Other unexplained injuries
Warning signs of emotional abuse:
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Lowered self-confidence and self-worth
- Onset of aggressive or violent behavior
- Substance abuse
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Trauma and PTSD symptoms
Warning signs of sexual abuse:
- Bruises or welts around the genital area
- Inappropriate physical contact with staff members
- Unexplainable STDs
Warning signs of financial abuse:
- New changes to the power of attorney
- Opening credit cards or bank accounts
- Strange transactions or charges
Warning signs of neglect:
- Broken bones
- New or untreated medical conditions
- Personal hygiene issues
- Significant personality changes
- Other unexplained injuries
Despite all of these warning signs, abuse or neglect can be very difficult to detect, especially if the victim suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Because of this, it is important to also observe the staff members to look for indications that abuse or neglect is occurring. The following behaviors could suggest abuse or neglect from the staff members:
- Failure to respond to residents’ requests for assistance
- Improperly giving medications
- Not responding to concerns about conflicts between residents
- Poor coordination when moving residents between floors or rooms
- Showing disrespect or having poor attitudes towards residents
- Have a generally negative attitude toward caregiving
- Failing to communicate any updates regarding resident’s wellbeing to family members or emergency contacts
If someone you love is a nursing home resident, it is important that you regularly check in on them to determine if any of these warning signs are present. This can allow you to take action swiftly and prevent further harm from occurring to your loved one.
Seeking Justice for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
No one wants to see their loved ones abused or neglected by a facility that was entrusted to care for them. While financial compensation cannot reverse the damage done by abuse or neglect, it can allow for aid with medical bills, increased funding for better care, and the opportunity to seek justice for a loved one. If someone you love has fallen victim to nursing home abuse or neglect, trust the experienced personal injury attorneys at Peter Angelos PC. With decades of experience, we can provide the guidance you need to navigate the challenges of a nursing home neglect case.