When society thinks about nursing home infractions, they often think of outright abuse, such as physical or verbal abuse. They tend to overlook the most common type of nursing home abuse, which is neglect. A variety of actions or inactions can constitute neglect in a nursing home. It is often caused by understaffing or a lack of staff training.
No matter the reasons behind it, neglect of nursing home residents is always wrong. Neglect can lead to serious injuries or even death. If you suspect your loved one has been neglected while in the care of nursing home staff, you should take the necessary steps to protect their safety and help fight for their rights.
What is Nursing Home Neglect?
When the basic needs of a nursing home resident are not met, they are likely being neglected. Neglect in a nursing home can come in many different forms, such as:
- Medical neglect: The medical needs of a resident are not attended to or prevented including bedsores, infections, mobility issues, and provisional care for diabetes
- Neglect of basic needs: The nursing home fails to provide the resident with reasonable amounts of water or food or fails to give residents a clean and safe environment
- Neglect of personal hygiene: Nursing home residents are not provided with appropriate assistance with cleaning, brushing their teeth, laundry, bathing or other basic hygiene
- Social or emotional neglect: The nursing home resident is repeatedly ignored, left alone, or yelled at by staff members
All of these types of neglect can result in serious physical and mental injuries to a nursing home resident.
Watch for Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home neglect is not always reported by the residents, who might not understand why they are suffering harm or might be fearful of complaining. To make matters more complicated, the warning signs of neglect in a nursing home are often subtle. They sometimes go undetected by those who do not live or work in the nursing home, as they can be attributed to other possible circumstances. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, it is essential that you watch for signs of nursing home neglect such as:
- Malnutrition which can be evidenced by the presence of bedsores and frequent infections
- Sudden weight loss, especially if your loved one needs help feeding themselves
- Bedsores or pressure ulcers from your loved on not being repositioned and turned
- Falls causing various types of injuries
- Dehydration from failing to keep the resident stocked with adequate amounts of water
- Withdrawn behavior or abnormal changes in behavior
- Lack of friendly contact with their fellow nursing facility residents
- Changes in appearance or personal hygiene
- Environmental hazards in the nursing home, such as slippery floors, bad lighting, unsafe wheelchairs and walkers, and dangerous furniture in the nursing facility resident’s room
What to do if You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect
If you suspect that your elderly loved one is the victim of neglect in a nursing home, your first concern is to ensure their safety. Make sure they are not in immediate danger. If necessary, call 911 or your local emergency number. Remove them from the facility if you need to.
Next, talk to your loved one about what might be going on. Explain to them what you have observed and ask them directly about any abuse or neglect they may have experienced. Let them know that they can trust you, so they might be more willing to explain what has been happening. Trust your instincts if you feel something isn’t right.
Then, talk to the nursing home administrators. They should have a written policy in place to deal with your concerns and take action regarding them. There should be a formal grievance policy for you and your loved one to follow. If you do not feel that your concerns are being adequately addressed or nothing changes with your loved one’s care, file a complaint with the state or Adult Protective Services.
Make sure you document everything from keeping medical reports to taking pictures of any injuries your loved one has sustained. Journal your concerns and observations. All of these things can be used as evidence in a formal investigation or criminal and civil cases against the nursing home and its employees.
Finally, schedule a consultation with an NYC bedsore lawyer who can help you pursue compensation for your loved one’s damages, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Suspecting or learning that your aging relative has been neglected or abused in the nursing home that you carefully selected to provide for their needs can be gut-wrenching. Feelings of confusion and anger are common. You may not know what to do next or where to turn. You can turn to a nursing home neglect attorney who has experience helping many people in your position. When you hire an attorney to help you, they can investigate your suspicions and possibly obtain a settlement for your loved one without even going to court. The lawyers at Sinel & Olesen, PLLC may help your medical malpractice cases. This can ensure your loved one is not paying for unnecessary medical expenses or suffering emotionally.