In the US, about 1.5 million or 4.5% of the population live in nursing homes, and an additional 1 million people live in assisted living facilities. Nursing home abuse and negligence are a reality. According to a 2020 WHO report, 12% of the staff reported neglecting their residents’ needs. Similarly, about 12% of the residents and their families reported being neglected by the nursing home staff. Furthermore, in a 2014 survey, it was found that neglect was the single most prevailing mistreatment happening to the elders in nursing homes.
Nursing home abuse and neglect are not the same. While nursing home abuse implies having a deliberate intent to harm the residents. A nursing home neglect implies the staff’s failure to provide the highest level of care required of them. However, both nursing home neglect and abuse result in harm coming to the elders.
Can the residents take any action against the facility?
Residents living in the nursing home are not helpless when it comes to taking action for the negligence of the facility management and staff. Residents can file a nursing home abuse lawsuit and bring the culprits under the law for their negligent behavior. But given the difficulty of the matter and the need for evidence and testimonies, the victim cannot file the case on their own. They need the services of an experienced nursing home abuse firm to represent their case.
These law firms have experienced attorneys who can do all the leg work on your behalf and pursue justice in the court of law. As a result of a nursing home abuse lawsuit, you can demand compensation for your loss, such as poor health, bedsores, etc. The family can also file a wrongful death claim if the elder dies in the nursing home. However, if you or someone related to you is living in a nursing home, below are the types and signs of nursing home neglect that you must watch out for.
Types of nursing home negligence
The actual cases of neglect can vary among individual cases, but below are the major types of nursing home negligence.
- Medical neglect
Not all elders are healthy when they enter a nursing home. Often they join the facility to get immediate medical attention whenever they need it. Therefore, medical negligence is when the facility fails to provide the required medical attention to the elder.
Elders can face many medical issues such as diabetes, bedsores, mobility concerns, cognitive disease, etc. Adequate medical attention includes prevention of the disease, availability of medication, administration of correct dosage at the right time, etc.
- Basic needs neglect
The nursing home staff must provide enough food and water to the resident and ensure a safe and clean environment. The food needs to be safe, hygienic, and healthy. Some elders may even have to eat at odd hours, such as those with diabetes. The neglect happens when the staff ignores the basic needs of the resident. The results are a loss of weight, dehydration, and malnutrition.
- Personal hygiene neglect
People come into nursing homes when they require help with everything, even the most mundane aspects of their life, such as combing their hair or brushing their teeth. The neglect occurs when elders do not get any help for bathing, changing their clothes, doing laundry, and keeping their surroundings clean.
- Emotional or social neglect
In a nursing home, elders are away from their families and entirely dependent on the staff. They need care and attention just like a child. However, repeatedly ignoring their needs, rebuking them for calling the staff, discouraging them from voicing their needs, and leaving them alone for hours can impact them emotionally. Emotional and social neglect can influence their physical development and well-being too.
It happens when an elderly resident is unable to take care of themselves. Still, they don’t ask for help or refuse assistance when provided. Self-neglect can be a ripple effect of other types of neglect, such as social and emotional neglect that makes the residents feel averse.
Signs of nursing home neglect
If you are keeping your loved one in a nursing home and you are in a quandary, look at the following red flags to confirm that neglect is happening.
- Poor hygiene of the resident
Many elders need help with daily activities to maintain their hygiene. If you find that your loved one is not wearing clean clothes, taking frequent baths, and brushing their teeth, it is a sign that the nursing staff is not fulfilling their duties. The possible reason for this neglect can be a shortage of staff in the facility and the overworked staff failing to provide the best care.
- Psychological Issues
The consistent neglect of the nursing home staff can lead to psychological issues such as fear of asking for help, reluctance to voice their opinion, and resentment. A ripple effect of stress and anxiety is emotional distress happening at the nursing home, with residents trying to distance themselves from their friends and family.
- Nutritional deficiency
Many residents face nutritional deficiencies in the nursing home when the staff does not provide them with proper food. These residents often show clear signs of malnutrition, dehydration, dry lips, and flaky skin. Red flags to confirm nutritional deficiency include irritability, complaints of being left to experience cold, and hair loss.
- Unclean living conditions
When you visit your loved ones, inspect the place where they live, i-e, their room, and surroundings. Nursing home staff must provide clean bedding, clothing, and living areas. There should be no mold as it can cause irritability and allergy. Dirty facilities with piles of garbage everywhere are a sign that you should take your loved one out.
- Lack of mobility
Nursing homes have to keep their residents physically active. Therefore, facilities often have mobility programs designed for such purposes. If your loved one complains about loss or lack of mobility, the chances are that the facility does not have any physical activity planned for its residents. Moreover, the residents might be sitting on their beds all day, causing movement issues.
Nursing home abuse and neglect are a reality. Some examples of nursing home abuse include leaving a disabled elder in a room for hours without checking up on them and failing to call a physician when needed. In other instances, staff may not clean the residents daily, provide food on time, and may not treat the injuries such as bedsores and infections. So, when leaving your loved ones there, be vigilant of these signs and types of nursing home neglect.
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