With some nursing homes and senior care facilities placing people over profits, what should be safe places for our loved ones as they age can become dangerous, high risk facilities that:
- Are understaffed
- Have lackluster training
- Conduct substandard reporting
- Employ staff with minimal qualifications
- Offer low wages and have a high turnover
- Fail to conduct adequate background checks and/or are negligent in hiring staff
- Have inadequate medical supplies, equipment, or facility accommodations
- Fail to sufficiently maintain the facility, leaving dangerous conditions
- Follow too few regulations and safety protocols
These conditions can create life-threatening, and wellbeing-disrupting, scenarios for our loved ones. A 2020 study from the World Health Organization (WHO) discovered that more than 64% of nursing home staff admitted to committing some form of neglect or abuse.
The NCVC reports that most complaints about abuse or neglect in nursing homes fall into one of six categories:
- Physical abuse (27.4%)
- Resident-on-resident abuse (physical or sexual) (22.1%)
- Psychological abuse (19.4%)
- Gross neglect (15.3%)
- Sexual abuse (7.9%)
- Financial exploitation (7.9%)
The risk of nursing home abuse and neglect is a particular problem in Pennsylvania, where the elderly population has been growing at a rate that outpaces the general population. The elderly account for more than 20% of the population in Pennsylvania. If you suspect a loved one is being abused or neglected in a care home setting, inform the police and call the team at Almonti Law Group right away. The mistreatment of our elderly loved ones is a travesty that requires a swift response (especially if they are in active danger or continue to experience neglect or abuse) and demands justice and compensation from wrongdoers and the facilities that enable them.
What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse?
Nursing home neglect and abuse can be insidious and hard to uncover. The signs may be subtle. That said, we can identify some common early-warning signs that your loved one may need help:
- Changes in behavior that come on suddenly or without obvious cause
- Poor hygiene and unsanitary facility conditions (dirty clothes and sheets, lack of bathing)
- Unexplained physical marks (bruises, cuts, burns, sprains, fractures)
- Preventable bedsores, open wounds, or frozen joints
- Food-borne illnesses
- Unexplained diseases or infections
- Testing positive for sexually transmitted diseases
- Malnutrition, dehydration, or unexplained weight loss
- Increase in hospital or out-patient visits
- Being kept in an over-medicated state
- Repeated falls and uncorrected safety hazards
- Medication/dosing errors or changes in medication
- Excessive use of force or use of excessive restraints
- Delays or refusals by staff to allow visitors to see a resident
- Staff denying a resident his or her right to be alone with a visitor
- Deliberate lack of communication by caregivers to family members
- Unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts or changes in banking practices
- Sudden or unplanned changes in wills and important financial/legal documents
- Loss of possessions or valuables
What to Do If You Suspect Neglect or Abuse by Nursing Home Staff
Many residents who face abuse may be unable or unwilling to report the mistreatment themselves and it will be up to their loved ones to advocate on their behalf, seek justice, and obtain them compensation for the harm they suffered. Pursuing these claims is also critical to addressing the overall epidemic of nursing home abuse and neglect in this country.
When you suspect nursing home negligence or abuse, consider taking the following steps:
Document the abuse with photos or witness statements (including from any residents or staff who witnessed any key events). Photograph any injuries or dangerous conditions.
Take the steps needed to ensure your loved one’s safety, whether this requires seeking outside medical attention, reporting your concerns to the director or supervisor within the current nursing home setting, reporting the abuse to your local police or government agency, and/or perhaps even moving your loved one to another care facility.
Contact the team at Almonti Law Group to help put an end to your loved one’s mistreatment, hold wrongdoers accountable, and recover damages that may provide some measure of justice and compensation for the harms that have occurred. Engaging competent counsel may well help other families avoid the same trauma, as counsel’s investigation might uncover other cases of abuse or neglect that have gone unreported.