There are many reputable nursing home facilities that care very much about their residents and the treatment they receive. These facilities are to be highly commended for their diligence. Unfortunately, there are a great number of elder care living centers where the opposite is true.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, for every elder abuse case that gets reported, there are about 24 that go unreported. If you have a loved one in an elder care facility, read the remainder of this information, and ask yourself if your family member could be the victim of nursing home abuse.
How Does Elder Abuse Occur in a Nursing Home?
Placing family members in a nursing home is a difficult decision to make. If an older loved one suffers abuse at the hands of individuals who’ve been entrusted to care for them, the sense of guilt that follows can be overwhelming for those who picked the facility.
There is no good answer for how a human being can possibly choose to inflict pain and distress on an elderly person, but it happens frequently. Some specific key points are indicators that a condition ripe for abuse may have been created. One common key point revolves around the hiring practices that are used at many nursing homes. The standard for hiring is frequently set so low that the standard itself may be totally ignored in some situations.
Due to staffing shortages, the prevailing thought sometimes seems to be that any breathing body is better than having nobody. This attitude may be the reason that many times no background checks are done to review previous employment, personal references or possible criminal history. Sadly, this allows individuals who have histories of sexual and physical abuse to find their way into elderly care centers as caregivers. If this is the reason your elderly family member has been abused, our legal team at The Eichholz Law Firm knows how to pursue justice for your family and wants to help you remove your loved one immediately from harm’s way.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Abuse of older adults in nursing homes falls into one of these four categories: emotional, physical, financial or sexual. Family and friends are highly encouraged to know the signs and indicators of each type, then be watchful for the signs when visiting the resident.
If an elderly person always seems scared and withdrawn when a particular staff member or a certain resident comes near, this can be a blaring sign that abuse could be taking place at the hands of this specific person. Additionally, if there are unexplained bruises, marks, burns or cuts, this is also a red flag signaling potential abuse is happening.
Who Needs to Report Abuse?
The law in all states stipulates that healthcare professionals must report to proper authorities all situations where nursing home abuse is suspected. In some states, staff must submit a report to authorities. Time is crucial for stopping the abuse, so any suspicions should be reported immediately. Hesitation can cause elderly residents to suffer more abuse or even death.
When to Call 911
If relatives or friends are visiting residents and spot a life-threatening condition, they should immediately call 911 and request rescue personnel be sent. When placing the call, if you mention the possibility of this being elderly abuse, it is likely that law enforcement will also be dispatched to the scene.
In this case, a police report will be made and could potentially be very important for the legal team at The Eichholz Law Firm to have in pursuing a lawsuit for elderly abuse. If the person reporting the abuse can use a cellphone to video or photograph evidence of abuse, this could also be helpful to the case.
Staff and Administration at the Facility
When an individual first suspects abuse at an elderly care facility, concerns should be immediately voiced to the administration and appropriate staff. This may or may not prompt action at the facility. Unfortunately, very little may be done to solve the problem. Therefore, it is a wise move to seek counsel from knowledgeable attorneys who have experience with nursing home abuse. Additionally, it may be necessary to move your loved one away from the dangerous situation right away.
To effectively identify and prove alleged nursing home abuse, evidence must reinforce the abuse allegations. As mentioned above, cellphones can be used to make pictures of soiled bed linens or clothing, cuts and bruises, spoiled food and any other evidence.
If possible, any abnormal behavior should be video recorded. Things such as cowering when a certain staff member comes near, or suddenly withdrawing into silence should be documented. A picture really does speak a thousand words, but a video says even more.
Some family members have placed hidden cameras in an elderly loved one’s nursing home room to capture staff verbally or physically assaulting the resident. In one case, a resident’s son used a hidden video camera to capture footage of his elderly father being thrown in and out of bed and a staff member verbally demoralizing the man.
In another case, the rape of a disabled resident by a nursing assistant was caught on video in July 2019. A hidden camera was placed in the resident’s room after the family learned from her that she was being sexually abused.
Adult Protective Services
Most states have an Adult Protective Services (APS) agency. Suspected elderly abuse in a nursing home should be reported to this agency as soon as possible. Even if your suspicions haven’t been documented with pictures and video yet, do not delay in notifying APS. Bring in professionals who are experienced at dealing with such situations.
After an individual notifies APS, one of their investigators will want to discuss the situation with you. At this time, any pictures, videos or other evidence can be presented. At this point, investigators will follow up with a visit to the nursing home and the resident where staff members will be interviewed. Each one of these steps will allow the investigator to assess what is happening. APS can provide family members with resources available to assist in maneuvering through such a stressful and complex process.
Law Enforcement and District Attorney
The APS generally works closely with law enforcement and the district attorney in cases involving abuse allegations. However, a family member can also contact either or both of these entities as well to present any and all evidence collected.
Consult Legal Counsel
Equally as important as notifying authorities about suspected elderly abuse is the action of contacting our law firm to enlist our legal power and help save your loved one from further degradation and harm. We can quickly assess the situation, examine the evidence, and move to help get your loved one out of harm’s way.
Call 855-551-1019 or fill out an online contact form.