Patient abuse in nursing facilities is becoming more prominent. Abuse is not only physical, but emotional, sexual, neglect and financial exploitations. The elderly are the most vulnerable and least likely to complain, so unfortunately they are the targets. Most families research in depth about the nursing facility that they will place their loved one, in hopes that abuse doesn’t occur. Although the research is done, families should still look for signs and symptoms of abuse since they are leaving their loved one in stranger’s hands.
According to (Center), A recent investigation concluded that employment checks do not always provide adequate protection against elder mistreatment. For instance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services prohibit nursing homes from hiring persons with a prior history of committing abuse in a nursing home setting, but those who have been convicted of other forms of abuse like child abuse may still be hired. Some states require a criminal background check, while others do not. Even so, these checks usually do not uncover convictions in another state.
Furthermore, in some states, non-caregiving staff such as maintenance workers and others without a direct patient care role do not undergo criminal checks even though they may have direct access to patients and patient areas. Understaffing is a common cause of nursing home abuse. When staff members become overworked, they may begin to lose their patience with the nursing home residents. In addition, understaffing leaves many workers unsupervised or untrained, which can lead to nursing home abuse.
Still, physical abuse in nursing homes is illegal, and the owners of the assisted living facility can be held liable if a resident is subject to nursing home abuse or neglect. Sometimes, it is difficult to identify nursing home residents who have been physically abused. Very often, members of the nursing home staff will state that the resident’s injuries were the result of a fall rather than the actual cause–nursing home abuse. In addition, the staff member may bully the resident into agreeing with their story.
Because detecting signs of physical nursing home abuse can be difficult, loved ones should pay careful attention when visiting the nursing home. Be aware of the common signs of physical nursing home abuse, including: unexplained bruising, cuts, sprains, fractures and broken bones and open wounds. In addition to physical signs, nursing home patients who have been physically abused may also show changes in their behavior. If the resident appears withdrawn, fearful, nervous or depressed, they may be suffering from physical nursing home abuse.
The most common type of physical abuse is battery, which can include forcing the resident into restraints for no valid reason. Other forms of physical abuse in nursing homes include: overmedication, use of excessive restraints, chemical or physical, for no reason, burning, pushing, shoving, force feeding, hitting the resident with the hand or an object, pulling the resident’s hair and mishandling the resident when transporting them from beds, bathrooms etc ( (Morgan).
According to (Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes), Emotional abuse in nursing homes is not as overt as other forms of abuse. Regardless, the effects that emotional abuse in nursing homes can result in are damaging to the happiness, health, and other areas of that resident’s life. Not knowing what signs to look for can allow emotional abuse in nursing homes to continue. Often times, a resident thinks that telling someone about abuse suffered, including emotional abuse in nursing homes, will make them a burden to the family or they feel afraid of enduring an increased amount of abuse.
If emotional abuse in nursing homes is occurring the family members should immediately notify the facility. The facility should amend the situation at once but if the emotional abuse in nursing homes persists, the family should take further action. The chances of the emotional abuse in nursing homes occurring to just one resident are very slim so other residents are probably suffering as well. Emotional abuse in nursing homes can include humiliation, harassment, threat of punishment, deprivation, and intimidation, as well as other behaviors.
One of the most pervasive forms of nursing home abuse today is that of neglect. Nursing home neglect is too frequently overlooked and results all too often in a decline in general health and eventually the death of those elderly people entrusted to nursing home care facilities. The problem can occur anywhere and can take many shapes. What makes this particularly sinister is that it can be overlooked or ignored for so long. Even upon repeated visits to a nursing home, the signs of nursing home neglect can remain hidden.
In order to understand the scope of the problem, it is important to know the different types of nursing home neglect and nursing home abuse. The most obvious, most egregious, and the first that comes to mind for many people is physical neglect. Unfortunately common in nursing homes today, neglect takes many forms, however, all of which are disturbing in their own right. Any of the following forms of neglect warrant contacting a nursing home abuse lawyer to bring justice to the victim of neglect, as well as make conditions safer for other residents (Center).
According to (Financial Exploitation of Nursing Home Residents), Financial exploitation of the elderly occurs when an individual takes or uses the money or property of a senior for any wrongful use, or with the intent to defraud the elder. Senior citizens who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities can be victims of financial abuse by their direct caregivers or by the administrators of the nursing homes. Financial exploitation is defined as the wrongful use of an individual’s finances or property for another’s advantage.
This can occur when residents’ personal or financial resources are taken from them without their consent, either because the residents were incapacitated and unable to give consent or because they were subjected to threats, intimidation, manipulation, and deception. Examples of financial exploitation include cashing an elderly person’s checks without authorization, forging a senior’s signature, stealing an older person’s money or possessions, or deceiving an older person into signing any contract, will, or other document.
According to (Nursing Home Abuse), It is critical for every resident to understand their nursing home patient rights in order to successfully acclimate to the very different living environment of a skilled nursing facility. Patients and their families should become well versed in the policies and procedures inherent to life in the facility and must know exactly what they can and should expect when it comes to care and safety.
In the US, the federal government and each state government have written legislation which guarantees each nursing home resident specific and general rights while under professional care. Most foreign counties have similar laws enacted to protect elders from abuse and neglect in nursing facilities, as well. When your loved one is placed in a nursing home, it is required that they are given a written bill of patient’s rights. It is recommended that the family and loved one go over this bill of rights in detail so they are familiar with the rights of their loved one.
Most often, nursing home patients cannot defend themselves, due to several different reasons: physical health, mental health, social isolation or dependency issues. Unless someone comes forward for these patients, they won’t get help and no one is penalized for their actions. Many do not know how to report nursing home abuse, so they remain silent and struggle with their disturbing knowledge of the abuse or neglect. Once the repost is filed, the organization that is responsible, will investigate thoroughly and will hold the person/persons responsible for their actions.
If you are a family member and suspect any minor abuse or neglect, it is always wise to report the activity to the nursing home administrator directly. Tell them that you have evidence of the abuse and that you intend to take this matter as far as it will go. Do not back down. If the infraction is minor and resulted in no real damage, then you may consider allowing them to discipline the staff member internally. Just be sure to watch out for any retribution which may come back to your loved one if the staff member is not fired.
If the infraction is more serious or you do not feel completely confident that the matter will be settled in the best interest of your loved one, then take the concern one step further. Immediately call police and report the incident. Additionally, contact adult protective services, your ombudsman, your local nursing home regulatory agency and Medicare, if applicable. You might also consider consulting with a nursing home abuse attorney and filing a civil lawsuit (Nursing Home Abuse).
Although abuse in nursing facilities is becoming more prominent, there are several things that family members can do to protect their loved one from being a victim from this horrible crime. The elderly are very vulnerable, but they do not deserve the abuse that the under paid, aggravated staff member may give them. If someone suspects abuse in a nursing facility, they should report it immediately. If not, this makes you just as guilty.