When your loved one is living in a nursing home, you expect them to get the best care they need so they can live with dignity and enjoy their life. While it’s difficult to place your loved one in a home, you should be able to trust that it’s for the best and professionals are providing care 24/7. However, some nursing homes are not able to provide your loved one with the care they need. In some cases, your loved one’s health and wellbeing could be put at risk. A Fayetteville nursing home abuse lawyer from McMath Woods P.A. can help you get justice for your loved one.
Learning your loved one is being abused is a terrible situation. You may not know what to do. Contacting Adult Protective Services can help you get your loved one to a safe place. From there, you can seek your legal options.
Before learning more about how our attorneys can help you, let’s look at the different kinds of nursing home abuse and what it can do to your loved one.
How Does Nursing Home Abuse Affect Your Loved One?
Elder abuse can take many forms. Sometimes, staff members and other residents are malicious towards a resident. In other cases, the resident cannot get the care they need because the nursing home doesn’t have the necessary resources. However, neither are acceptable.
Abuse can include:
- Physical. If a staff member handles your loved one too roughly, hits, or shoves them, then the staff member is being physically abusive. You may notice unexplained injuries or constant bumps and bruises that the staff will not discuss.
- Mental. Mental abuse can include staff members speaking down to your loved one by using profane language or insulting them. If a staff member prevents your loved one from participating in activities and socializing, the isolation can take a serious toll on their mental health. They may develop depression or anxiety.
- Financial. When seniors are isolated, some caregivers may take advantage of your loved one’s finances. They could steal money or take out credit cards in your loved one’s name. In more serious situations, they may try to gain control of your loved one’s finances.
- Sexual. Staff members who engage in sexually inappropriate behavior toward or around residents are committing acts of sexual abuse. Unfortunately, some nursing homes may not do careful background checks when hiring staff, which allows predators to work around vulnerable seniors. This kind of abuse can cause physical and mental harm.
If you notice injuries or a change in your loved one’s demeanor, then they may be dealing with abuse. An occasional bump or bruise may happen, but constant injuries are not normal. If your loved one’s mood seems to change, like they’re more withdrawn or fearful, then something could be off about their care.
When your loved one has faced abuse, our lawyers are here for you. We’ll look into what happened to find out how the home was harming your loved one.
Neglect in the Nursing Home
While abuse may have intent behind it, this sometimes isn’t always the case for why your loved one was hurt. It’s also possible for the nursing home to not have the experienced staff that your loved one needs to receive their care. They could also not have enough staff to attend to every resident on a regular basis. This can create dangerous situations where your loved one is neglected and even though the nursing home isn’t trying to, they are putting your loved one’s health at risk.
When a nursing home is short-staffed or has inexperienced staff members, the following situations can happen:
- Medication Errors. Whether your loved one receives the wrong dose, wrong medication, or a skipped dosage, their health can suffer. When there aren’t enough staff members to provide care, this may result in your loved one missing medication that they need, or someone rushing to get the job done and they make a mistake.
- Bed Sores. Many seniors may have issues with mobility and could be in a bed or wheelchair for long periods of time. If this is the case, then staff should adjust their positions and use cushions for support. However, if they aren’t moved regularly, they can form pressure sores or bed sores. If these are left untreated, they can require surgery to treat and can be extremely painful.
- Malnutrition/Dehydration. Some seniors may need assistance with eating and drinking. If they are left alone, they may not remember or cannot take care of their nutrition and hydration. Without attention from the staff, seniors may miss meals or get dehydrated, which can be dangerous to their overall health.
- Fall Injuries. Seniors who live in assisted or long-term living facilities may have trouble with walking on their own. If they need to reach for something, get something from across the room, or use the restroom, a senior who is at risk for falling may try to do this themselves because they don’t have staff around to offer assistance. This can result in the senior falling and sustaining injuries, which can range from brain injuries to a broken hip. If no one is around, they may not get immediate medical help because no one knows they fell.
- Uncleanliness. Sanitary living conditions help stop the spread of germs and your loved one should be living in a clean environment so they can enjoy their home. Soiled clothes, bedsheets, and unclean common areas are signs of neglect and can put your loved one at risk of contagious diseases.
A nursing home with a short or inexperienced staff may also face additional challenges of working longer hours and having more responsibilities than they can handle. When there is so much that they are responsible for and are also battling fatigue, then they are more likely to make mistakes. Unfortunately, certain mistakes can be fatal for nursing home residents.
While elder neglect may not be intentional, there’s no excuse for it to happen. Your loved one deserves to live safely and with dignity. If they’ve been harmed because of neglect, our lawyers are here to fight for them.
There’s also another way for a nursing home to be neglectful—their lack of security. Let’s look into what elopement is and how it can cause harm to senior residents.
The Dangers of Elopement
When nursing homes aren’t attentive, residents who are prone to wandering may leave the premises. This can happen when the nursing home doesn’t have enough staff to keep a watchful eye on residents. There should be procedures and protocols to protect residents, especially if they’re an elopement risk. Nursing homes that don’t have careful security measures in place may not catch that your loved one is missing until hours after they’ve left. Seniors who leave their home may not realize what they’re doing. They may become lost, confused, and unable to find their way back.
There are many trip and fall hazards outside. Uneven ground and rocks could make a senior lose their balance and fall. They may hit their head or sustain another kind of injury that prevents them from being able to get up.
The weather conditions can also cause health concerns. A hot, summer day can cause dehydration, heatstroke, and sunburn. If someone elopes and it’s cold outside, they could be in danger of hypothermia or frost bite.
It can be terrifying to learn your loved one was able to leave their nursing home and their injuries may take a while to heal. You can turn to one of our lawyers to help get your loved one the justice they deserve.
Questions to Ask Your Loved One’s Nursing Home
Knowing that one home abused your loved one may make you wonder how you’re going to find a safe nursing home you can depend on. Arkansas released a checklist of items your family should look into when deciding on a nursing home. If the nursing home staff cannot answer the questions to your satisfaction, it could be that the home isn’t the safest option.
We’ve separated the questions into categories:
Home Accommodations and Care
- Can your loved one get the care they need at this facility?
- Is the home peaceful? Take the noise level and cleanliness into account.
- Can your loved one get a special diet if they need one?
- Does the home have licensed professionals available around the clock?
- Can your loved one bring personal belongings?
- Will your loved one have storage space available?
Staff and Residents
- Is the staff attentive and respectful?
- Does the home conduct background checks on staff members?
- Does the home plan activities for residents?
- Does the home have equipment for patient safety?
- Does the home offer preventative care? This could include flu shots and vision/hearing tests.
- Are residents and families invited to care-plan meetings?
While these are essential starting questions, feel free to ask the nursing home as many questions as possible if more come to you. When you feel like you have a better idea of how the nursing home runs and how the staff treats the residents, you’ll feel more confident in your decision to have you loved one live there or look elsewhere for a more suitable home.
Red Flags in a Nursing Home
You may think that if your loved one is being abused or neglected, they will tell you. However, this doesn’t always happen. Residents with certain health conditions like dementia or other forms of memory loss may have trouble with verbalizing what is happening to them. Some residents may be ashamed of what happened and others could be fearful of retaliation. All these factors could prevent your loved one from informing you that they’re not in a safe living environment.
While you have plenty of questions to ask, it’s also important to look for red flags that the nursing home isn’t the best place for your loved one. Let’s take a look at these warning signs so you know what to look for when you’re visiting.
- Residents or Their Families Are Unhappy. If you get the opportunity to speak with other residents and their families about the care offered at the home, take note if they aren’t happy with it. If they’re noticing problems with their loved one’s treatment then this could also mean your loved one would get similar treatment.
- Unclean Living Conditions. If residents seem to be in soiled clothing, have a foul odor, or the common areas have dust or messes, then this could be a sign of neglect in the home. While the occasional spill could happen, it should be handled as soon as possible.
- Unappetizing Meals. Your loved one deserves nutritious and appetizing meals. If the food quality seems sub-par, then they will likely not be getting proper nutrition and may not want to eat.
- Weight Loss. If you notice a dramatic weight loss in your loved one, this can also be a sign that they’re not getting the food they need to thrive.
- Health Issues. If your loved one seems to be constantly dealing with sickness, this may be a sign that the home is not taking certain precautions to prevent the spread of germs and to keep the place clean. Your loved one shouldn’t be constantly ill.
- Communication. If there are issues or concerns with your loved one’s care, you should be able to address it with the home. They should listen to your concerns and address them. If you’re not able to get clear answers to questions or are brushed off, then you may want to look into other skilled nursing facilities.
- Chaperoning. Your loved one has the right have visitors and enjoy their company. If staff seems to be hovering or interrupting without reason or don’t seem to be able to let you visit your loved one, then this could indicate that abuse or neglect is happening.
If you notice these signs and believe your loved one is in a dangerous situation, you should reach out to authorities immediately. They can take care of the safety issue and help your loved one get to a safe environment. After that, you can look toward getting justice for your loved one.
Our lawyers are here for you. We realize it can be difficult to learn your loved one’s well being has been put at risk. We’ll do everything we can to fight for their rights.
Get the Representation You Deserve
While there are many ways for a nursing home to be negligent, our lawyers are up to the task of investigating your loved one’s case. We’ll look into records of who was taking care of your loved one, the care your loved one was supposed to receive, their medical records, and more to figure out who acted negligently and how their negligence harmed your loved one.
To get started on your case, give our office a call today. In a free consultation, we’ll review your case for validity and if you decide to proceed with us, we can talk about how to move forward. This process may be difficult and emotional, but you will be giving your loved one a voice and could possibly prevent this from happening to another family.