Nursing home facilities present countless opportunities for staff, family members, and other patients to abuse vulnerable elderly residents. Some nursing homes give poorly screened and inadequately supervised workers unfettered access to residents’ rooms and personal effects.
Understaffed facilities may not have the human resources necessary to monitor aggressive and unruly residents. If the nursing home fails to hire sufficient staff for its resident population, quieter residents’ needs may be overlooked and forgotten.
Abuse and neglect in America’s nursing homes are not rare occurrences. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one out of every six people over 60 worldwide has experienced abuse in a nursing home or similar setting.
The same report found that two out of three nursing home and long-term care facility staff members admitted to committing an act of abuse within the previous year.
Victims and concerned loved ones can call upon nursing home abuse lawyers to assist in uncovering the abuse and neglect of their loved ones.
Unfortunately, even with competent legal counsel and a successful lawsuit, the damage done by nursing home abuse or neglect is irreversible. However, a nursing home abuse attorney could help recover financial compensation for the harm such abuse or neglect causes.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
No matter the form it takes, abuse in nursing homes involves the deliberate, intentional act that a perpetrator commits against a victim.
Physical abuse occurs when a staff person, family member, resident, or other individual makes physical contact with the victim. The touch is often offensive, forceful, and unwanted.
For example, a staff member or family member may strike the victim with their fist or hand if they are frustrated or impatient. Physical abuse also includes instances where a staff member administers medications with too much force or applies restraints too tightly.
This type of abuse often leaves marks, cuts, and bruises. But these injuries are not always visible. Sometimes, a victim’s visible fear or anxiety around another person indicates that that person has abused the victim.
A nursing home abuse lawyer may also look for evidence of physical abuse by reviewing surveillance footage and interviewing potential witnesses at the facility.
Residents of nursing homes are especially vulnerable to financial abuse and exploitation.
Unscrupulous staff members may obtain and use residents’ financial data or cards to withdraw money from their accounts. Or they may attempt to pressure their victim into designating the facility or the staff member as the beneficiary of the victim’s life insurance policies or retirement accounts.
Family members of nursing home residents may also be perpetrators of financial abuse. They may use manipulation or deceit to gain access to and control over their elderly loved one’s financial assets. As a result, the victim may allow their abuser to drain their bank accounts, alter their will or power of attorney, or take valuable property.
The experience of a nursing home abuse attorney is often beneficial in uncovering financial abuse. A nursing home abuse lawyer will carefully examine any will, trust, power of attorney, or financial records while determining whether financial abuse is occurring.
Without a detailed examination of the victim’s financial records and assets, financial abuse may go unnoticed until it is too late to undo its effects.
A fellow resident or staff member may sexually assault nursing home residents.
Like physical abuse, sexual abuse does not always result in visible injuries. Sometimes, a change in the victim’s behavior is what offers clues to a nursing home abuse attorney.
A victim who is usually outgoing but has recently become withdrawn and sad may be the victim of sexual abuse. A nursing home abuse lawyer will also review many of the same evidence and records as when looking for proof of physical abuse.
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Negligence in Nursing Home Facilities
Unlike abuse, negligence and neglect occur through carelessness or reckless conduct. Understaffing, poor training, and extended shifts can all contribute to incidences of neglect.
The physical and mental trauma from neglect can last as long and hurt as deeply as trauma from intentional abuse.
One common example of neglect occurs when staff members forget to check in on residents. Residents may depend on staff members for assistance with bathing, dressing, and getting out of bed. Staff members must ensure residents receive medication at the proper times with the correct dosages.
Lapses in these duties may seem small. But in light of the unique vulnerability of nursing home residents, it is easy to see how these errors can be deadly for victims.
Family members of a resident should take care to look for signs of neglect. For example, a loved one may show signs that they have not bathed recently. Speak to staff and supervisors about your concerns, and contact an attorney if you need help.
Recovering compensation following instances of neglect is possible but can be challenging. If the perpetrator is a staff member, a nursing home abuse lawyer will want to look at any training they received and the policies and procedures the facility followed.
Get Assistance With Your Claim From a Qualified Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Individuals who believe their loved ones are the victims of abuse or neglect in a nursing home or long-term care facility should call a local and experienced nursing home abuse attorney for assistance in protecting their loved ones as soon as possible.