Most people don’t want to place a loved one in a nursing home for a number of reasons, and you are likely no exception. You probably spent a lot of time researching the facilities in your area to find the highest quality establishment that fits your budget.
It is not only heartbreaking to suspect that your loved one is experiencing neglect in a nursing home, but it’s also very disturbing. You pay lots of money every month to a facility so that they will perform the necessary care for your loved one, and learning that they have betrayed your trust can be excruciating.
However, if you suspect that a nursing home is neglecting your loved one, there are steps you can take to help. Our attorneys empathize with your situation and understand that what you’re going through is not easy. If you need us, we are here to help you understand the legal process and what options are available to you.
The first thing you can do to help your loved one is understand nursing home negligence basics.
Nursing Homes Are Subjected to the Standard of Care Regulations
When a nursing home accepts Medicare, the facility is obligated to abide by Federal Regulations that provide requirements for the standard of care. Among these regulations is 42 CFR §483.25 (h), which states:
- “The facility must ensure that—
- (1) The resident environment remains as free of accident hazards as is possible; and
- (2) Each resident receives adequate supervision and assistance devices to prevent accidents.”
The standard of care regulations also puts rules in place regarding the protocols for the nutrition and hydration of the patients in nursing home facilities (42 CFR §483.25 (i) and (j)).
Ways In Which Nursing Home Neglect Can Occur
Nursing home neglect can take several forms, but essentially, if a nursing home patient does not receive the expected level of care, negligence is probable. Not all forms of nursing home neglect seem heinous in the performance of the act, but the consequences can be severe.
Here are some examples of nursing home neglect:
The premises are not kept reasonably safe and clear of hazards.
This includes any hazards that the nursing home knew about and chose not to address, or should have reasonably known about as a result of due diligence. This can include anything from preventing slip and fall accidents to ensuring that stair and hallway railings are functioning as they should.
The facility has inadequate hiring and staffing practices.
The majority of nursing homes pay their employees insufficient wages, which do not motivate workers to perform at their highest ability. Additionally, this does not incentivize employees to care about the patients they serve sincerely. While this is not an excuse for underpaid employees who neglect their patients, it may help you understand why this issue is so widespread.
Similarly, nursing homes may also try to save money by not hiring enough staff to care for the patients properly. This leaves the already underpaid employees to stretch themselves thin while trying to provide each patient with adequate care.
Most nursing home staff care about the patients they serve, but some don’t. Some simply show up for the paycheck. These are the workers who are the most likely to end up neglecting, abusing, or otherwise intentionally hurting a patient.
The establishment has inadequate supervision.
Nursing home residents should have a particular level of supervision, depending on their conditions. Some residents will need more, and others will need less, but each patient should have the supervision they require.
The health and safety policies fall short of what is needed.
Resident rooms and common areas must be kept clean and sanitary at all times. For instance, if a resident soils themselves and a staff member fails to clean the elder promptly, it is absolutely unacceptable.
The necessary medical treatment is not provided.
This falls in line with the medical standard of care. Medical professionals are expected to perform a certain standard of care for every patient they treat. The medical standard of care states that medical professionals should practice at a level that a prudent provider would in a particular community. Additionally, it is how other comparably qualified professionals would manage the patient’s care in a similar situation.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Some signs to keep an eye out for if you suspect that your loved one is being abused in a nursing home are as follows:
- Bruises, lacerations, skin tears, broken bones, and other mysterious injuries
- Burns, frequently self-inflicted
- Personal hygiene concerns
- Insomnia/loss of sleep
- Major personality changes
Neglect IS Abuse
You may think that neglect is separate from abuse, but make no mistake: neglect IS abuse. In fact, neglect is the second most common form of abuse that elders endure in nursing homes, according to the National Council on Aging.
Proving Negligence Can Be Challenging
If you suspect your loved one is experiencing neglect in a nursing home, it is unwise to handle a situation like this on your own. Proving that a nursing home is neglecting a resident is not typically easy and almost always requires a skilled nursing home abuse attorney's assistance. A skillful lawyer will have the knowledge and experience you need on your side to obtain justice for your loved one.
Our attorneys here at The Ahearne Law Firm, PLLC are highly accomplished in the area of nursing home abuse and have helped many others in similar situations. Don’t delay—let our team see if we can help you, too.