The most vulnerable groups among us are children and the elderly. June 15 is Elder Abuse Awareness Day and every year on that day, many groups worldwide try to promote awareness of the types of abuse our seniors can be subject to.
- Physical abuse
- Physical neglect
- Financial abuse
- Sexual abuse
There are many fine nursing homes around the country and many dedicated nurses and doctors who staff them. However, there are also some that fail to care well for their residents and if a senior has no family or friends left alive, the door is open for someone to abuse them with impunity.
Neglect From Understaffing
One problem is often that the nursing home is understaffed. The staff that is at work cannot always make up for the absence of the others and some work is left undone. First it will be treatments that do not urgently need to be done daily, such as applying lotion to dry skin. Then it will be tasks that will draw no complaints if left undone, such as turning an Alzheimer’s patient every two hours, administering eye drops, or offering water to those who cannot drink it by themselves.
Unless the nursing home is chronically understaffed, undone things will be caught up and people checked for any early problems such as new bedsores. This type of scenario is unfortunate but not malicious.
What should never happen is deliberate abuse or neglect. Yet nursing home abuse is more common that we like to think it is. Elderly people are taken advantage of and cannot complain. There may be fear of retaliation if they speak up. They may be stroke patients and unable to speak. They may feel there is no point in saying anything because they are just one of hundreds and the staff is too busy to do anything about it.
However, nursing home residents have legal rights. The “Nursing Home Reform Law” passed in 1987 requires that nursing homes post a list of resident rights somewhere where everybody can read it. That informs interested family members of what the standards are and when a complaint is justified.
If you are trying to find a good nursing home for a loved one, it can be a painful decision but need not necessarily have a poor outcome. Please see our page on Finding a Safe Nursing Home for some immediate help.
If you have a loved one in a nursing home and are wondering whether any abuse is going on, please contact us for a free consultation. We can help you gather more information and determine whether there is a valid legal claim.