Types of Nursing Home Abuse
When your loved one is in a nursing home, you expect that they will be well cared for.
Yet nursing home inspections often reveal that residents are receiving sub-standard care. Even worse, some residents are abused and neglected.
The signs of nursing home abuse aren’t always obvious, and residents may be reluctant to report abuse, for fear staff will retaliate against them. Families can help keep their loved ones safe by understanding the types of nursing home abuse that can occur and the factors that may raise the risk of abuse.
Neglect: A Top Threat in Nursing Homes
Neglect in nursing homes is often linked to understaffing. Nursing homes may try to cut costs by employing as few workers as possible, and those workers may struggle to meet the needs of residents in their care. Nursing home workers may not even recognize that their own behavior is neglectful, but depriving residents of food, clean linens, bathing, and other basic necessities is abuse.
Deliberate Abuse and Intimidation
Jacinto Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, in Houston, has been cited repeatedly for health and safety violations in the past few years, with fines totaling $245,000. In January 2016, inspectors found staff had roughly grabbed a resident’s wrist and yanked on a resident’s leg to reposition him in his bed. One worker took away a resident’s call light and told her “it would not help her get water,” according to the inspection report.
Residents already in fragile health may rapidly deteriorate, physically and mentally. They may stop eating, become depressed, and withdraw from family and friends.
The deliberate mishandling and intimidation of residents creates an atmosphere of fear and insecurity. Residents already in fragile health may rapidly deteriorate, physically and mentally. They may stop eating, become depressed, and withdraw from family and friends.
Rights of Nursing Home Residents
The law entitles nursing home residents to basic rights. Abuse and intimidation are violations of those rights, such as:
- The right to be treated with dignity and respect – Any form of abuse or intimidation violates this fundamental right.
- The right to have a choice over one’s schedule – Residents should be able to dictate their own sleeping schedule and social activities. Abusive workers sometimes force residents to stay in bed by using restraints or refuse to take residents to social activities.
- The right to privacy and to use one’s personal belongings and property – Abusive staffers may steal from residents or hold their belongings “hostage,” in an effort to control their actions.
Sexual Abuse: An Underreported Crime
Sexual abuse in nursing homes is one of the most serious – and most underreported – crimes. Residents may be embarrassed to report sexual abuse, and residents who suffer from dementia may not be able to fully understand or communicate what happened to them.
Nursing home administrators may be reluctant to believe reports of sexual abuse. Sometimes, it’s only after several residents report abuse that their complaints are taken seriously. And the perpetrators of sexual violence may be residents themselves.
In some people, dementia causes aggression and hypersexuality. When a nursing home resident exhibits those tendencies, staff must monitor that resident at all times to keep other residents safe. Although nursing homes tend to have separate wards for dementia residents to prevent them from leaving the facility or wandering into restricted areas, residents of dementia wards might be able to easily access each other’s rooms.
A Duty to Investigate
Too often, when residents complain that a worker abused them, that worker continues to have access to residents, even when under investigation. Nursing home administrators must act swiftly to investigate reports of abuse and either suspend or reassign workers accused of abuse, while an investigation is ongoing.
Inspections of nursing homes help protect residents, but those inspections are months apart. Abuse and neglect can happen in between inspections and never be discovered. Families are, therefore, an essential part of their loved one’s safety – in regular visits, family members should be on the lookout for any signs of abuse and neglect.
If you believe nursing home abuse harmed your family member, you need an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. Request your free case consultation online or by calling The Evans Law Firm at (855) 414-1012.