When choosing a nursing home for a loved one, we all like to feel confident and at ease with the treatment they will receive. Too often do we hear cases of nursing home neglect and abuse- wrongful treatment that could have been stopped. Many times, the residents of these homes are unable to defend or protect themselves. In order to keep our loved ones safe, it is important to know the signs of abuse as well as what to do to stop it.
According to the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, it is required that all nursing home residents:
be provided with services sufficient to attain and maintain his or her highest practicable physical, mental and psycho-social well-being.
This entitlement includes freedom from neglect, abuse, and misappropriation of funds.
What To Look Out For
Neglect: the failure to care for a person in a manner, which would avoid harm and pain, or the failure to react to a situation, which may be harmful. Neglect may or may not be intentional. For example, a caring aid who is poorly trained may not know how to provide proper care. Other examples include:
- Incorrect body positioning– which leads to limb contractures and skin breakdown;
- Lack of toileting or changing disposable briefs– which causes incontinence and results in residence sitting in urine and feces, increased falls and agitation, indignity and skin breakdown;
- Lack of assistance eating and drinking– which leads to malnutrition and dehydration;
- Lack of assistance walking– which leads to lack of mobility;
- Lack of bathing– which leads to indignity and poor hygiene;
- Poor handwashing techniques– which leads to infection;
- Lack of assistance with participating in activities of interest– which leads to withdrawal and isolation;
- Ignoring call bells or cries for help
Abuse: causing intentional pain or harm to an individual. Examples include:
- Physical abuse from a staff member or intruder– includes hitting, pinching, shoving, force-feeding, scratching, slapping, and spitting;
- Psychological or emotional abuse– includes berating, ignoring, ridiculing, cursing, and threats of punishment or deprivation;
- Sexual abuse– includes improper touching or coercion to perform sexual acts;
- Substandard care– results in immobilization, dehydration, pressure sores, and depression;
- Rough handling during care giving, medicine administration, or moving a resident
Misappropriation of property/funds: the deliberate misplacement or misuse of a resident’s belongings or money without the resident’s consent. Examples incluse:
- Not placing resident funds in separate, interest-bearing accounts where required;
- Stealing or embezzling a resident’s money or personal property
Stopping The Neglect/Abuse
If you suspect neglect or abuse, or if a resident tells you he/she is experiencing this problem, it is important to believe the resident and report the allegation immediately. The report should go to the nursing home’s administrator, director of nursing, social worker, local state police or state law enforcement, or the state survey agency that licenses and certifies nursing homes. You should include the name of the victim, facility, an abuser as well as the nature and extent of harm and when it happened. Follow up with those you reported to, and don’t give up until you are certain the abuse or neglect has stopped.
If you suspect or know someone who has been the victim of nursing home neglect and/or abuse you and your loved one have the rights to legal action.