Although public scrutiny of conditions in nursing homes is on the rise, nursing home neglect is still frequently overlooked. Nursing home neglect, which can include abuse, often results in the decline in health of elderly residents who are often already frail and can potentially be fatal. Nursing home liability is different than premises liability because these homes were specifically designed to care for individuals who often require a great deal of attention. Nursing homes are also commonly contractually obligated to provide certain types of treatment and care for different residents, and are held to strictly enforced safety regulations.
Families or elderly individuals who make the decision to live in nursing home facilities place a great deal of trust on employees and administrators to ensure that they or their loved ones with be properly taken care of. Families often spend a great deal of money to provide the care, medical treatment and support their aging family members require. Elderly people who are no longer able to do simple tasks or adequately take care of themselves depend heavily on staff members for a number of situations at all hours of the days an night. Because the residents of nursing homes are highly vulnerable to sickness, illness and other ailments, neglect, even if unintentional, can have severe and possibly fatal results.
Common Signs of Neglect Neglect in nursing homes can be habitual or isolated instances. In either case, when there is evidence that an elderly resident is being inexplicably injured or subjected to unhealthy conditions, it is important to speak up and determine if there is negligence involved. There are many forms of nursing home neglect, which can include some of the following:
- Basic needs
- Personal hygiene
- Medical or psychiatric
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
Although some of these forms of neglect can result from oversight or genuine mistakes, employees must still be held accountable for acting without reasonable care. They are entrusted by families and elderly residents to act with a great deal of responsibility and decency, and when they fail to do so, they must be held responsible.
Neglect in nursing homes can also be very difficult to detect. Even with regular visits from family members and loved ones, elderly victims may be unaware or unable to articulate the extent of staff neglect. If you believe a family member or loved one may be a victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, there are a few common signs that may be helpful in determining the extent or type of negligence:
- Changes in personality or behavior
- Unexplained injuries, bruises or welts
- Arguments or tension between staff and residents
- Unsanitary conditions
It is important to be aware of the physical and emotional condition of your loved ones and for the general conditions and conduct of the nursing home facility and staff members. If you suspect that caregivers are not providing residents with the proper care and support it is important to report reasonable suspicions to administrators or seek the assistance of qualified and experienced legal aid.
Neglecting Simple Needs
Neglect of personal hygiene and basic needs are some of the most common forms of nursing home neglect. Clean clothes, bed sheets, oral hygiene, bathing and general cleanliness are simple tasks many residents require help with. Failing to do even the simplest procedures can result in serious health consequences for victims whose health is already in decline. Bedsores, malnutrition and dehydration are common consequences of basic need neglect, but residents can also suffer extreme illnesses or diseases.
The medical needs of elderly residents are also an extremely important responsibility for nursing homes. Aside from providing the required medical care and administering the proper medications, staff members must treat even the smallest medical issues with the proper amount of concern. Allowing cuts, scrapes or burns to go untreated can result in serious infections for residents whose immune systems are increasingly weak. There have been many cases of fatalities and serious illnesses resulting from minor medical injuries that were left untreated
Emotional neglect or abuse is even more difficult to identify than physical neglect. Overworked employees may take their stress and anger out on elderly residents, or may not adequately care for individuals who display signs of mental and emotional instability. Emotional neglect can be extremely detrimental to residents' well-being and many elderly victims frequently become isolated and depressed. As with other forms of non-physical damages, emotional neglect is difficult to describe, but can still take its toll on elderly victims who fail to receive the proper help or treatment.
All of these forms of neglect are extremely distasteful and unnecessary, and they are also unfortunately difficult to identify. Employees entrusted with the well-being of elderly residents have not only a legal obligation to provide care, but also face a social stigma of harming individuals who are commonly and increasingly defenseless. If you or a loved one have been a victim of nursing home neglect, it is important that you speak up to find justice for victims and hold those responsible for nursing home neglect liable for their carelessness. By having an attorney assist you in a personal injury claim for nursing home neglect, you can defend not only your rights, but also the right of other elderly residents who deserve to be treated properly and with compassion.
End Neglect with Our Help The reluctance or inability of elderly victims to speak out about nursing home neglect makes it difficult to hold nursing homes accountable for their negligence. With the help of an attorney from our firm, you or your loved ones can be confident that we will take your case personally do what it takes to determine if the needs of elderly residents have been compromised or if there are any instances of abuse. The Ferguson Law Firm, P.C. strongly believes in defending the rights of helpless victims who are unable to stand up for themselves. If you would like to discuss your case, please fill out an online case evaluation or contact the firm as soon as possible to take the steps to make it heard that nursing home neglect will not be tolerated.