If your loved one is currently in a skilled-nursing facility and you notice one or more signs of nursing home neglect or abuse including sudden weight change, out-of-the-ordinary behaviors, unresponsiveness or lassitude, unexplained injuries or obvious signs of poor hygiene, it is important not to ignore the situation. By law, the management at your loved one’s nursing home is required to address any concerns you may have regarding the care of your elderly relative or parent and it must have a written policy regarding this issue. Both you and the resident should ask for this information at the time your loved one makes a decision regarding a nursing home, and you should take the time to become familiar with it.
While you may ask your loved one about the situation if you observe signs of nursing home neglect or abuse, be aware that even patients who have the metal capacity to identify a problem may be hesitant to do so for fear of adverse consequences. In some situations, it can be due to a misplaced sense of loyalty to the staff at the nursing home, not wanting to be viewed as a complainer, fear of revenge from the abuser, or adhering to the notion that people should simply accept what happens to them.
If you come to see a resident during posted visiting hours and you find that a staff member delays your visit or refuses it entirely, or if he or she refuses to leave you alone with the resident, your first step should be to discuss the situation with the supervisor or manager of the facility. If this is not possible during your visit, leave a note and follow up with a telephone call as soon as possible.
It is best to confront the administration at the nursing home first unless you have a legitimate reason to believe that your loved one’s life is in imminent danger. In this case, immediately call 911 and report the situation. Remember that although you are not yet taking legal action, the facility will still be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Although you are most likely feeling a myriad of emotions, it is important to remain calm and address the supervisor or manager in a professional manner. Allow him or her the opportunity to investigate your concerns and/or explain the situation.
If you feel as though the explanation is unsatisfactory or if your loved one’s condition worsens, contact the appropriate state agency and file a complaint. Visit the website of the National Council on Aging to contact your state’s Adult Protective Services department. Additionally, consider seeking legal advice from a nursing home abuse lawyer to learn more about your legal rights.
If you or someone you love may be suffering from nursing home neglect or abuse, contact Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC. We will provide you with a free consultation, review your situation, inform you of your legal rights and options, and work to help you or your loved one seek the compensation to which you may be entitled.