You place your loved one in a nursing home, anticipating they will receive compassionate care. When you visit they complain about poor care. Maybe they have bruises on their body, uncombed hair, or disheveled clothing.
Sometimes the perfect solution to providing care has a dark side. A 2020 study by the WHO shows 64% of nursing home staff admitting to neglect or abuse against patients. Any older person residing in an assisted living facility may be a victim of nursing home abuse.
What is nursing home abuse? How can I report nursing home abuse? Keep reading for answers to these questions and more.
What Is Considered Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse is when a long-term care facility resident suffers abusive acts or negligence. It can also be a failure to protect residents from the harmful actions of other residents.
The most common types of abuse in nursing homes include:
- Abandonment—leaving a resident to care for themselves
- Dehydration—failing to provide sufficient water causing thirst, dry mouth, dizziness, etc.
- Exploitation—manipulating residents to provide favors or money
- Financial Abuse—unauthorized use of resident’s finances, document forgery,
- Malnutrition—failing to monitor a resident’s dietary needs and restrictions may cause weight loss, kidney failure, dry skin, irritability, loss of muscle mass, death
- Mental or Psychological Abuse—verbal abuse, threats, withholding mail, screaming, taunting, etc.
- Neglect—failure to provide regular baths, not reporting injuries, bedsores, ignoring complaints, improper administration of medication, etc.
- Physical Abuse—pushing, hitting, pinching, inflicting pain with objects, etc.
- Sexual Abuse—groping, oral intercourse, full intercourse, nude photos, etc.
Depending on how the nursing home is regulated will determine whether it falls under state or federal regulations.
There are four federal laws to protect the elderly from nursing home abuse.
The Elder Justice Act allocates funding to prevent and prosecute cases of elder abuse. This led to the creation of the Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation Advisory Board. The Act requires nursing home staff to report suspicious incidents that may be abuse.
The Older Americans Act defines elder abuse and allocates federal funding to the National Center for Elder Abuse. The Act promotes awareness of elder abuse. It works on developing resources for victims of abuse and their loved ones.
The Violence Against Women Act focuses on domestic violence cases. They allocate funding to programs for women, including special services for those over age 50. The grants are available for improving elder abuse services to victims, prosecution training programs, and more.
The No Fear Act protects whistleblowers. This allows staff members to report abuse in nursing homes without suffering repercussions or discrimination. This act allows witnesses in nursing homes to come forward in situations where they might have been afraid to do so in the past.
In addition to these federal laws, there are state laws that provide protection against nursing home abuse.
Benefits of Hiring a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Reporting nursing home abuse can be tricky because you are accusing a facility caring for your loved one of inappropriate acts. Investigations are usually conducted by an outside agency. You may have concerns about retaliation against the resident.
If there is no immediate danger you may report your suspicions to a local Adult Protective Services agency.
If your complaints do not result in appropriate action or you believe a nursing home or a staff member’s actions are criminal, you may wish to speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer. They have experience in this area and can provide guidance on the best course of action.
Prevent Nursing Home Abuse
If you suspect nursing home abuse, take appropriate steps to end it. This may be complaining about a specific staff member to the facility, contacting Adult Protective Services, or speaking with a nursing home abuse lawyer.
We invite you to check out our other blogs to learn about other interesting legal issues.