Nursing home abuse is far too common. It occurs in many ways, and some of them are very hard to recognize. It is important, though, to pay careful attention to any signs or symptoms. Some types, such as physical abuse and neglect, can be life threatening. All can leave your loved one with deep emotional scars. If your loved one is in a nursing home, make sure you know what you should do if you suspect nursing home abuse:
1. Determine the Type of Abuse and If S/he is in Immediate Danger
If your loved one is in any immediate or life-threatening danger, e.g., victim of continual physical or sexual abuse, do not hesitate to dial 911.
If your loved one is not in any immediate danger, you should still arrange a visit to a local emergency department or his/her physician to ensure his/her health is not in danger. This will help you keep your loved one safe and healthy, and protect your claim if you decide to file one.
2. Report the Abuse to the Home
If you do not believe there is an imminent threat to your senior’s well-being, your first action should be to discuss your suspicions with the floor supervisor. Try to remain calm, and explain your concerns in detail. If that is not effective, contact the home administrator.
Nursing home administrators must address any concerns residents and their families express. This process must follow the facility’s written complaint policy.
3. File an Official Report
Once you substantiate your suspicions, or if the abuse is obvious, you need to report the abuse to the proper government agencies.
This will launch an investigation, and protect other residents from similar abuse. The nursing home administrator may try to convince you this step is not necessary. However, if abuse or neglect occurred, filing an official report is the next step you need to take.
4. Consider Moving Your Loved One
If you found proof of abuse or neglect, you may want to consider moving your loved one to a different facility. Many seniors are hesitant to move because they have friends at their current home, or simply do not like change. However, remember to trust your instincts. If you believe your loved one’s current living situation is unsafe, explore other options.
Take care when choosing a new nursing home, and do not opt to move to the first available bed just because you want your senior out of his/her current nursing home. You can view ratings and compare nursing homes in your area on Medicare.gov.
5. Collect All Possible Evidence
It is important to document nursing home abuse as thoroughly as possible. While the documentation varies from case to case, some things you should do include:
- Take pictures of bruises, ligature marks, bedsores, soiled bedding, or other signs of abuse or neglect.
- Ensure your loved one visits the doctor for any potential injuries.
- Write down or record any complaints your loved one makes. Be sure to note the date and time and anyone s/he says was involved.
- Document who was providing care for your loved one, and when.
- Take notes of your meeting with the floor supervisor and the administrator, e.g., did they offer any excuses for why the abuse happened, did they seem willing to help, did they admit there have been issues with that particular caregiver in the past, etc.
- Write down the name and contact information of anyone who witnessed the abuse.
6. Discuss Your Legal Options with a Lawyer
If a nursing home staff member abused or neglected your senior, the nursing home will likely be liable for your loved one’s injuries. As soon as possible after discovering nursing home abuse in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you should schedule a time to discuss your legal options with one of our nursing home abuse attorneys.
Cordisco & Saile, LLC can help you determine if you have a claim against the abuser or the nursing home, obtain medical records and other evidence to support your claim, and negotiate a fair settlement to cover your senior’s damages. Call our Bucks County office today at 215-642-2335 to get started.