Nursing Home Abuse – even the thought of it is disturbing, yet this is a cruel reality faced by many older Americans. In the USA, more than 3.2 million adults are spending their lives in nursing homes. A survey says that more than 40% of its adult population is destined to enter a nursing home at some point in their lives. No doubt, the condition of these senior citizens is the most vulnerable as at this stage of life, as they lose the ability to defend themselves.
Families usually have a terrible time finding the right nursing home, let alone one that will provide the proper level of care. The scenario is so grave that we can call it a new issue that needs to be addressed by the medical community. A recent survey states that more than 150,000 senior citizens experience nursing abuse each year. Out of these, most of the cases remain unreported, and many people have to go through this brutality each day. Even deaths have been reported as a result of nursing home abuse, with reports claiming the number of moralities is as high as 1,800.
The Reason Behind Nursing Home Abuse
The question that immediately comes to mind is if there is a particular reason for all of this brutality? Well, not actually. There are many reasons for nursing home neglect and abuse. And to put a curb on this heinous action, we need to understand the probable reasons behind it.
Research suggests that the major reasons are as follows:
- Lack of Training: When the nursing homes hire employees for a nursing job, the requisite must be proper training. This is where the nursing home owners sometimes cut corners or do not properly vet the staff. In the absence of adequate training, they end up creating an environment that is unsafe and vulnerable. As people age, they develop the complexity of body and mind and handling them will require a whole lot of effort. Those, who are in charge of the patients, need to have a particular level of expertise for working with individuals with an ever changing health and mental condition. Without proper training, they will not be able to handle the situation nicely.
- Improper Screening: To lessen the stress, the nursing home owners opt for a quick hiring process. However, this is an unethical practice, because this hiring is not for an average job. Whoever is appointed as an in charge of the elderly must have a balanced mind and no criminal background. When it comes to employing someone for the nursing home, it must be done properly.
- Lack of Patience: Call it lack of time or patience; both are the top reasons behind the elderly abuse. Another problem is the cost savings incentive. For-profit facilities will look to hire as few people as possible. As a result, employees are overburdened and lose their patience with the elderly. Staffing shortfalls lead to a reduced level of individual attention for each patient. An extended version a staff shortage is a hidden form of nursing home abuse.
Where to Report Nursing Home Abuse?
No matter what is the reason for this horrific deed, do not let anyone hurt your loved ones. Report the nursing home abuse and take a quick action against those guilty.
Adult Protective Services
APS – Adult Protective Services have been designated to investigate the elder abuse and neglect cases. APS is present in all the 50 states of the US. The investigation, case planning and monitoring and other critical issues like economic and social assistance are resolved by them. In most of the states, including New Jersey, APS is one of the first responders to nursing home abuse.
AAAs – Area Agencies on Aging provide a thorough assistance to elders and their family. The programs and services may vary from state to state, but hold a long-term assistance on elder abuse. You can file your complaint with them, and they will take the full responsibility of controlling it.
MFCU – Medicaid Fraud Control Units – MFCU is needed in each state’s Attorney General Office. They investigate and prosecute patient abuse and neglect in health care. Its contact information is available online, and you can contact them anytime.
Signs of Abuse and Neglect
Sometimes the elderly people are not ready to report brutality to avoid any negative repercussions. In such a case, it’s the responsibility of family members to recognize and act on any precarious situation. Caretakers need to look for signs of abuse such as feeling depressed. Sometimes we assume it is a medical issue, but the second cause could be nursing home abuse. So, start with providing a trustworthy medical aid and if things don’t get better go for further investigation.
Signs of Physical Abuse
- Bruises or grip marks around neck and arms
- Rope marks around ankles and wrists
- Mysterious injuries happening again and again
- Refusal to go to for medication
- Fearful behavior
- Unexplained change in behavior
- Denial of communication
- Torn clothes
- Bruises on the body
- Venereal infection
- Unexplained bleeding
- Lack of basic hygiene
- Loss of weight
- Improper food
- Lack of medical facilities
- Bed sores
Any of the previously described situations can be a case of nursing home abuse. Don’t panic! You just need to get your story to the agency responsible for investigating claims. States like New Jersey have government agencies charged with taking care of these abuses.
Steps to Curb the Nursing Home Neglect
Numerous federal laws have been created by the government to protect people against any nursing home abuse. Patients have the right to security and privacy among others. With a rise in cases of brutality against elders, the government is constantly developing new laws that require the nursing homes to maintain certain quality standards.
The “Nursing Home Reform Act” states that nursing homes “must provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psycho-social well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care.”
Any facility provider who is overlooking these requirements is subject to judicial trial. If proven guilty, the culprit will have to go into rigorous punishment.
In addition to the law, various government bodies like, AAAs, MFCU, APPs has been opened in all the 50 states. Even if someone suspect something evil going on in the surroundings, just one call and the authority will be there to take care of the issue.
How to Prove Abuse in Nursing Homes
Even though the client will be thoroughly assisted by the government agencies, to complain against the culprits, you will have to stay active throughout the process. The court will need to have evidence to award damages to any plaintiffs.
A case with damages requires a supporting medical report or evidence of bruises. Use complete and precise documentation when appearing before the court.
The primary type of documentation includes:
- Photographs of the injuries or any other injury
- Notes of conversation with the staff
- Pictures of the prescribed medicines
- Personal observation notes
For cases of severe injury or death of a person, you can even hire a nursing home lawyer. Being an expert in the field, they know how to handle the most complicated cases in the easiest ways. The lawyer can assist clients with evidence collection and can maintain a clear record when and how abuse took place.
One matter of concern is that people sometimes hesitate to complain. The thought behind this is that they don’t want to harass those that are still taking care of a loved one. But remember, there can be death, injury or endless suffering related to acts of abuse that apply to your family and others. The culprit needs to be reported and punished!
So, whenever such a situation is encountered, make sure that the government authorities are informed. One can save many lives by taking the right step at the right time. Working together, we can protect our loved ones from being the prey nursing home abuse.