What to do if you Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
While many nursing homes live up to the expectation that your loved one will be treated with compassion and care, some institutions fail to live up the standard and further fail to deliver the duties required of them. If you find yourself in such a situation the best course of action is to start making inquiries and keep a written tab of all interactions. Do not hesitate to meet with a nursing home lawyer, the lawyers at Rosenbaum and Associates can help advice you in your best course of action.
First and foremost, you must be the advocate for those you believe are being abused in a nursing home. With that comes the responsibility to remain calm, even when the situation calls for extreme measures. If you believe your loved one is being abused be it physically, mentally, or sexually the best course of action is to speak to your loved one in private. While listening, and this part can be difficult, do your best to not interrupt and allow him or her to open up and tell you what has been going on. Ideally if your loved one has moved to a nursing home the more you visit the quicker you can tell if they have dropped weight dramatically, had anything taken from their room, broken a bone, is hesitant to be touched, or if a dramatic change in their demeanor has occurred. Depending on the situation that may not always be the case. Distance can play a large factor in the frequency that one receives visitors. Even so, if you notice something is off listen to your gut. Not all bruises are signs of abuse that is why it is important to listen and not to jump to your own conclusions.
While your loved one is depicting what has occurred to them, write it down. From this point forward it is crucial that you create and keep a detailed documentation of what has occurred, who was on staff, and the names of the nurses, doctors, and certified nursing aides on staff. The detailed account should include any pictures of the abuse or video, a written detailed explanation ideally with the date and times of the offense or offenses, and names and contact information of witnesses. If your loved one has been placed with a roommate get their contact information and their description of what they have witnessed.
At this point if you feel that there is a legitimate cause for concern, it is time to involve the management and supervisors of the nursing home. Most places are run by a corporation with a for profit initiative, therefore remember that without people to stay in the nursing home, they would not be able to remain open. Nursing homes in general are not looking to prey on seniors, and if one employee is causing trouble it tends to be dealt with quickly. After you have voiced your concern in a direct but non-accusatory tone, it is time to put your meeting in writing. This can be done through a written note documenting the conversation and saying that you appreciate the nursing home making time to meet and discuss the issue that has arisen. Remember to date and sign and save a copy of everything you have put into writing.
If there are clear signs of abuse or you feel that your loved one is in eminent danger do not hesitate to call 911. Report elder abuse to the Department of Aging through their hotline 1 (800) 490-8505, the hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Another point of contact is the Pennsylvania State Ombudsmen, which can be reached (717) 783-7247. The Federal Older Americans Act mandates the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program in every state. The state Ombudsman works to promote the rights and quality of life for all people who reside in nursing homes. If you would like more information regarding a nursing home abuse case please contact us online or call 1 800 7 LEGAL 7 for a Free Case Evaluation.