Nursing home abuse is a real risk to millions of seniors every day. There are two main parties that can be held responsible for senior neglect and abuse:
- Nursing home administrators/owners may be found negligent in the care of their residents by failing to provide a safe and clean facility, healthy food and medications, emergency care, or adequate training/staffing of the caretakers they employ.
- Care facility staff may also be found negligent in the care of the residents they serve if they act in an unlawful or abusive manner; the most common forms of care taker abuse are sexual, physical, emotional, and financial.
Note: Medical equipment manufacturers may also be held liable in cases of defective products.
Family members must be on the lookout for signs of abuse; these include bruises, cuts, bed sores, a sudden unexplainable decrease in health, large gifts to non-family members, an inability to pay bills despite steady income, and depression/withdrawal.
What to do if you Suspect Nursing Home Abuse / Neglect of your Elderly Family Member
The first thing to do if you suspect abuse or neglect in a nursing home is to speak with your family member and some of the other residents. You may also wish to speak with staff or administrators to hear their explanation of your concerns.
If you are not satisfied with answers provided by the staff or nursing home administrators, or the seriousness of the situation is so clear that you have no doubt about abuse; you should take steps to remove your loved one from the facility and report the abuse. To find your state’s reporting number, go to the National Center on Elder Abuse website and click on “Where to Report Abuse.”
Nursing homes are represented by insurance companies who will try to settle cases as quickly and cheaply as they can. An experienced nursing home abuse attorney can be a very valuable asset to getting the settlement you deserve. A negligence suit is the most powerful way of punishing a nursing home; it can reap monetary damage awards for the plaintiff and impose a license suspension or revocation, forced changes to operating procedures, and a loss of government funding to the nursing home.
Federal Ratings Affect Nursing Home Standings
The federal government is in the process of making it much more difficult for nursing homes to earn and keep a five star rating. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) altered their public reporting site to include stricter criteria for earning a top rating. Many nursing homes have already seen their ratings drop. If you are looking for a facility for our ageing parent, be sure to check out ratings on the government’s consumer advocacy website, Nursing Home Compare.
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