Nursing Home Abuse
Every day nursing home abuse and neglect causes the elderly and sick to become financially and physically injured. The emotional damage and trauma from the abuse goes far beyond any monetary relief which can be awarded, but nursing home and assisted-living facility are required by law to compensate any resident who falls victim to nursing home abuse. Family members should keep in contact with those in nursing homes to ensure they are being properly cared for by the facility.
What is considered Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home neglect and elder abuse are involve substandard care of a resident, a violation of the regulation involving a resident, or any breach of a duty imposed on nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other facilities which are governed by the Nursing Home Care Act.
Physical abuse is considered any abuse where physical force results in bodily injury or pain. Physical abuse includes but isn't limited to violence (slapping, pushing, punching, burning, choking) Physical abuse also includes the inappropriate use of restraints and any type of corporal punishment.
Any type of sexual contact between a resident and a staff member or other resident at the facility can be considered sexual abuse. While rape is what normally comes to mind, sexual abuse can include inappropriate touching, forced nudity, and unwanted touching.
Words and verbal acts which include threats and harassment are forms of emotional abuse. Isolating one from his or her family without due cause is a form of emotional abuse. While emotional abuse is harder to show, it is nonetheless a form of abuse.
It happens all the time. The resident gets close with a staff member. The staff member abuses that trust and convinces the resident to giving him or her something-usually money. Any type of financial transaction that benefits a person in a position of trust and authority can be considered financial exploitation.
Nursing home neglect is the failure to perform any obligation of the nursing home. This may include failure to provide medication, medical treatment, or basics like food and water. Anytime a nursing home or assisted living facility fails to provide for its residents, the facility has likely committed abuse or neglect.
Specifically, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, physical abuse, negligent injuries, and wrongful refusal to provide medication are all types of abuse. Many types of abuse are caused by the staff members of the facility against residents. In recent years, there have been many headlines about horribly cruel acts against residents of nursing homes by staff members. In other situations, the greedy corporations that run the nursing homes skimp on staffing or medical care and cause the injuries to the residents- literally putting profits ahead of the residents.
With the baby boomer generation getting older, senior care is expected to rise. With that rise, the incidents of nursing care abuse will rise.
What are the signs of nursing home abuse?
If you believe a loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home, you may see concerning behavior by the staff or your loved one. There are many signs you may observe that lead you to believe nursing abuse is occurring.
Injuries to the resident is one of the more common signs of nursing home abuse or neglect. Strange marks or bruises are evidence of abuse. This includes sores, cuts, and especially broken bones. Physical injuries are not the only signs of nursing home abuse.
Should your loved exhibit poor hygiene or frequent infections and bed sores, he or she may be receiving improper care. These types of injuries are less noticeable but can become very serious. This is especially true for bed sores which can lead to serious infections and even death of the resident if left untreated. While your resident's physical appearance is something to observe, you will want to look for changes in his or her attitude.
Constant fear or an increase in anxiety is a sign that the nursing home is abusing your loved one. In many instances, your loved one will tell you about potential abuse, and the nursing home will try to explain it away. Always investigate- especially if your loved one is complaining of the same staff member mistreating the resident.
Why do staff members abuse residents?
It is difficult to get into the mind of a person willing to abuse someone who is vulnerable. However, you should be on the lookout for these signs in staff members around your loved one.
Many assisted living facilities are run by corporations. These corporations have one goal- earn profits. If your loved one's care gets in the way of those profits, the nursing home may make a policy decision or change which causes your loved one financial or physical injury. For instance, the nursing home may cut staff even though the staff is needed to properly attend to your loved one's needs.
Understaffed facilities is one of the most common caused of nursing home abuse or neglect. Without sufficient staff, a resident in a nursing home will get hurt or worse- it is a matter of time. If you hear complaints by staff members about reduction in hours or staff lay-offs, be very vigilant. In some instances, the nursing home may cut medical staff members or reduce those in supervisory roles.
Medical doctors should be running the care and treatment at the facility. In an effort to save money, some nursing homes are pushing that care to nurses. While most nurses are well-intentioned and trained, doctors have specialized training and should be consulted regularly in the care of residents. While all medical providers are trained in spotting abuse, many turn a blind eye for fear of retaliation.
How is responsible for policing nursing homes?
There are many agencies responsible for policing nursing homes. In Illinois, this includes the Illinois Department Public Health, the Illinois Attorney General, state and local police. In addition, nursing homes accept Medicare payments and are subject to the rules and regulations of that system.
All that said, the biggest group of watchdogs against nursing home abuse are the residents and their families. That means you. In Illinois, the law is written to provide a private cause of action against nursing home abuse and allows you to bring an action against the nursing home. To make sure nursing homes in Illinois are brought to justice, Illinois allows for attorneys fees and costs to be awarded against the nursing home if you are successful.
Can I recover for nursing home neglect or abuse?
Yes. The law allows recovery for the resident and if the resident has died as a result, the resident's family has a right to recover for the abuse or neglect. In Illinois, the resident and the resident's family also have a right to recover reasonable attorneys and costs in pursuing the case against the nursing home.
Our firm does not charge a fee to review a potential nursing home abuse case. We also only take matters on contingency fee, which means we do not charge a fee to you. We only take a fee if we recover. Our office is located in Madison County, Illinois, and we have prosecuted nursing home, assisted living, and negligent medical care cases across Illinois. Most of our cases are in Edwardsville, East Alton, Jerseyville, Alton, Belleville, and Woodriver. If you have a potential case, feel free to call or set up an appointment for a free consultation.