5 Truths About Nursing Home Neglect
What Every Family Should Know
Many very fine long-term personal care facilities are available, offering skilled, compassionate, and attentive care. Yet, there is no guarantee that your loved one is receiving the level of care you were promised in shiny brochures and carefully executed facility tours. Similar to medical facilities, nursing homes are businesses. As such, they are prone to the pitfalls and consequences of cost-saving measures that can affect the care your family member receives.
If your loved one resides in a nursing home or personal care facility, it is crucial to be aware of certain uncomfortable truths. Again, while these certainly do not apply to all care homes, you should take steps to ensure they do not apply to the facility where YOUR loved one resides.
1. The Signs of Neglect Are Often Hidden
The elderly and disabled living in nursing homes reside in these facilities due to their need for the level of care provided. Whether due to physical limitations, serious chronic illness, or disease, these individuals are often completely reliant on others for their food, shelter, and care. Many require assistance with essential daily activities, as well. They tend to be extremely vulnerable and rather defenseless in the face of abusive and negligent actions. This makes those who are mistreated far less likely to be willing or able to report what is happening. Be sure you know what the (often subtle) signs of nursing home abuse and neglect are so you can keep watch for them.
2. YOU May Be Accused of Abuse or Neglect
Typically, family members may become the court-appointed guardians of their elderly, disabled, or otherwise dependent loved ones. Yet a troubling trend has developed over the past few decades. This has resulted from a perfect storm of weak legislation and lack of oversight combined with motives related to financial exploitation. In some cases, a nursing facility will seek to become the court-appointed guardian of a resident. While there may be legitimate reasons for doing so, it is very important to keep in mind that once guardianship is granted the results can be devastating for family members. In some of the most horrendous examples, nursing home residents with cognitive difficulties have been led to believe that their loving families were abused or neglecting them while, in reality, the facility itself was guilty. From banning close family members and friends from visiting and pilfering the accounts of the victim to withholding medical care, the results can be heartbreaking. Be on guard for signs that your loved one may be being victimized in this way.
3. Looks Can Be Deceiving
Certainly, all but the crudest long-term care facilities make an effort to maintain appearances and pleasantries with you when you visit; however, you should keep in mind that this means nothing when it comes to determining whether or not neglect is happening. Whether accidental or intentional, neglect can go far beyond failing to clear the dishes or attend to hygiene. Neglect can include failing to provide assistance with eating, drinking, mobility, and hygiene, a lack of social interaction, allowing sleep disruptions, offering poor quality and/or quantity of food, failure to provide medical care, mental and emotional stimulation, supervision, and much more. Incidents of neglect, as well as horrifying physical and sexual abuse, have been found at all levels of long-term personal care facilities from publicly funded institutions to the most exclusive private care homes. Do not allow yourself to believe that abuse and neglect can’t possibly be occurring simply because the facility looks and smells nice.
4. Elder Neglect Is Common
Evidence repeatedly appears to indicate that elder abuse and neglect may be roughly as common as child abuse – and that is not encouraging. More troublesome, research also suggests that individuals residing in personal care homes are at significantly higher risk of abuse and neglect than their counterparts living at home. Keep this in mind and watch for unexplained weight loss, malnutrition, slips, falls, fractures, injuries, fear, symptoms of being drugged and other signs of abuse and neglect in your loved one.
5. Nursing Home Neglect Is ILLEGAL
In West Virginia, as well as the entirety of the United States, it is a violation of law to fail to properly provide care for any individual for whom you are charged with this responsibility. Criminal and civil remedies exist for all manner of abuse, as well as neglect, suffered by nursing home and long-term care facility residents under the watch of the staff and facility entrusted to provide care. If you suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected you must take action.
I Suspect My Loved One Is Being Neglected In a Nursing Home
What Should I Do?
If you suspect that your family member is being physically, sexually, or emotionally abused, exploited, or neglected in a personal care facility, you should take action immediately. Contact the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services, the Bureau of Senior Services, and Adult Protective Services without delay. If your loved one is in immediate danger, contact law enforcement and emergency medical services (as applicable) immediately. If you have reason to believe that the serious injuries or death suffered by your loved one were the result of abuse, assault, or neglect suffered in a personal care home, contact Cranston & Edwards PLLC right away to protect your rights.
Contact Our Morgantown Personal Injury Lawyers
Cranston & Edwards PLLC is a specialized personal injury firm based in Morgantown, WV. Our AV® Rated law firm works on a contingency basis for those who have been seriously injured or lost a family member from the negligence or fault of another. We work closely with family members of those who have been abused and neglected in nursing homes throughout West Virginia. Contact our experienced personal injury lawyers for effective legal representation, more than 55 years of collective litigation experience, proven skills, and a track record of success. There are absolutely no legal fees until we win your claim. For a free case evaluation, contact us today at 304-296-3500.