What is nursing home neglect?
Unfortunately, nursing home neglect is a far-too-common problem when it comes to the care of seniors and the elderly. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, about 15.3 percent of elder abuse complaints in nursing homes are reported as neglect.
Usually, nursing home neglect occurs when residents of a nursing home, assisted living facility, or retirement community are not receiving proper attention and care. Occasionally, neglect can cause residents to suffer from physical and mental health issues as a result.
“Neglect is the failure to meet an older adult’s basic needs. These needs include food, water, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and essential medical care.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
There are many underlying causes behind nursing home neglect beyond just making bad hiring choices. Sometimes, nursing home neglect can be caused by inadequate staffing, improper employee training, inadequate security, or a hazardous environment.
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What are some nursing home neglect and abuse examples?
Many people incorrectly understand nursing home abuse as only describing physical injuries. What many fail to realize, is that simple neglect is a form of elder abuse as well. Any staff member who intentionally fails to properly care for their residents can and should be held responsible for their actions.
Even accidental nursing home neglect can lead to serious consequences. The following are just a few examples of what constitutes nursing home neglect and abuse under current regulations:
- Giving incorrect medication dosages to a resident
- Failure to provide proper medical care and equipment to residents with underlying health conditions
- Failure to regularly move residents with mobility issues
- Failure to report signs of infection or disease in residents
- Failure to keep up with a resident’s proper nutrition
- Failure to keep up with a resident’s proper hygiene and sanitation
- Failure to properly climate control a resident’s living area
- Causing physical injury to a resident
- Intentionally or accidentally isolating vulnerable residents
- Intentionally causing emotional distress to a resident
What signs of nursing home neglect or abuse should I look out for?
Sometimes, neglect and abuse can be very hard to detect, especially if your loved one is unable or unwilling to confide in you about what they may be experiencing. That said, there are several signs that caregivers are encouraged to look out for if you suspect that your parent may be a victim of nursing home neglect or elder abuse. Possible signs include:
- Broken bones
- Other unexplained injuries
- New or untreated medical conditions
- Personal hygiene issues
- Missing, ill-fitting or poorly cleaned clothing
- Significant changes in personality
- Fear of being alone with staff
How can I report my parent’s nursing home for neglect and abuse?
Remember that nursing home neglect and abuse is a serious issue that can have serious, even deadly, consequences. As a result, it is absolutely imperative that all cases be reported. This way, you can not only ensure the safety of your loved ones, but also the loved ones of others as well. In addition, being forced to take frequent responsibility will cause a nursing home to maintain or improve its standard of care.
If you need assistance reporting neglect or abuse, you should contact your local long-term care ombudsman. Your local ombudsman is an advocate for nursing home resident care, and it is their job to help investigate claims of neglect and abuse.
In addition, you can also report neglect to law enforcement, Adult Protective Services (APS) agents, and social workers, as all of these professionals are well-equipped to help keep your loved one safe and happy.
In some cases, you may wish to report cases of neglect or abuse to a lawyer in the event that you wish to pursue legal action in order to get compensation for medical bills and other expenses.
What else can I do to prevent future issues with my parent’s nursing home care?
All across the nation, many nursing homes take great care to treat their residents with respect and address their healthcare needs properly, but sadly, some “bad apple” nursing home workers do not respect elders or take pride in their work. This is never acceptable.
If you think your parent or loved one might be suffering from nursing home neglect, you have many options for how you can address the situation. You can talk to a trusted staff member at a nursing home or report your worries to an elder care agency near you. You may even be able to pursue legal action against those who neglected your parent.
To help prevent neglect and elder abuse in nursing homes, you can take several actions. The following are just a few things you can do to ensure that your parent or loved one is protected:
- Talk with other families about their experiences
- Report any concerns you may have
- Install a camera in your loved one’s room (in accordance with local law)
- Visit regularly
- Document everything
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