While there are many wonderful caregivers, nurses, and nursing home staff, neglect and abuse happen far too often to the elderly in care facilities throughout the US. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), around 95% of nursing home residents have been neglected or have witnessed neglect. With that shocking statistic in mind, there are a few things you should know about how to identify and prevent nursing home neglect.
What is nursing home neglect?
Nursing home neglect is a kind of abuse committed against elderly adults living in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Nursing home neglect happens when residents are not properly cared for or abused, resulting in their suffering.
Neglect vs abuse?
It is common to believe that abuse is mainly physical but it is important to realize that neglect is a kind of abuse. While still wrong and damaging, neglect can happen by accident or unknowingly, whereas abuse is intentional.
Causes of NHN
There are a few main causes of nursing home neglect:
Unfortunately, understaffing has been a problem for a long time in nursing homes. In fact, 20% of nursing homes were understaffed in 2020, according to a report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. When nursing care facilities are understaffed, the staff that does care for residents can be overworked, underqualified, and more prone to neglect residents.
Negligent hiring practices
Sometimes nursing home staff are not properly vetted before hiring resulting in poor care for the elderly. When underqualified staff are hired, residents are not properly cared for. Additionally, when staff who have been abusers or abused are hired, residents can be in danger. Individuals who have struggled with abuse or have been abused themselves are statistically more likely to abuse others. When facility management is not careful in the hiring process, they can unknowingly hire someone who has a history of abuse.
There are many reasons why new staff might not receive proper training. One reason is that so many nursing homes can be understaffed and training can be neglected in order to fulfill staffing needs. Inadequately trained caregivers are more likely to abuse or neglect elders which can be very dangerous to elders.
Kinds of neglect
Medical neglect occurs when a staff member fails to attend to the medical needs of a resident.
A few examples of medical negligence include:
- Not administering correct medications or not administering medications at the proper time
- Improperly attending to existing medical conditions
- Not responding to serious disease or illness
Neglect of basic needs:
Neglect of basic needs can occur when staff members fail to keep facilities livable and safe
A few examples of neglect of basic needs include:
- Failing to keep facilities regularly clean
- Not keeping facilities at a normal temperature
- Not providing safety features such as a night guard or alarm system
Neglect of personal hygiene:
Neglect of personal hygiene can occur when staff members fail to care for the personal hygiene of residents.
A few examples of neglect of personal hygiene include:
- Failing to properly bathe a senior
- Failing to regularly change or wash a senior’s clothing
- Failing to regularly change the bedding of a senior if soiled.
Social or emotional neglect:
Social or emotional neglect can occur when a nursing home resident is kept from interacting with others.
A few examples of social or emotional neglect include:
- Failing to provide assistance for the mobility impaired
- Intentionally or unintentionally isolating an individual
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect:
Here are a few signs that might help identify nursing home neglect:
- Poor resident hygiene
- Lack of mobility
- Frequent isolation
- Signs of poor nutrition
- Psychological issues
- Bruises or burns
How to prevent nursing home neglect:
A few ways to prevent nursing home neglect:
- Carefully review nursing home facilities before choosing one for your loved one
- Be sure the facility you choose is well staffed and maintained. You can also speak to current residents or their families for more information
- Be watchful for signs of neglect or abuse
- Carefully watch for the signs of nursing home neglect when you visit or contact your loved one
- Contact your loved one regularly to keep in touch with how things are going
- Do not dismiss any complaints of abuse or neglect
- If your loved one mentions abuse or neglect always listen and follow up
What to do if you think your loved one is being neglected?
Nursing home neglect is a very serious matter and must be reported and handled immediately.
- If you want additional help reporting neglect, you can contact a long-term care ombudsman. A local nursing home ombudsman serves as an advocate for nursing home residents and will help investigate any claims of neglect or abuse. You can find one by following this link.
- You might also want to report neglect to law enforcement, Adult Protective Services, and social workers.
You can also file a nursing home neglect lawsuit, to fight for medical or emotional compensation for your loved one.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, please call Lamar Law Office at 877-CARE-404. We are a law firm experienced in personal injury lawsuits and ready to fight for the needs of our clients.