Tragically, not all nursing homes provide the quality care you expect or want for your loved ones.
In some cases, sub-par care can stem from facilities not hiring enough staff. In others, nursing home neglect (or abuse) can stem from failures to conduct background checks when hiring new staff – or failures to properly train staff on how to care for residents.
Regardless of exactly why nursing home neglect and abuse may occur, knowing the red flags can be critical if you or a loved one is living in (or planning to move into) a nursing home facility. To that end, the following reveals some of the most common signs of nursing home neglect and abuse.
Nursing Home Neglect & Abuse: The Common Red Flags
- Unexplained bruising or bleeding – This can indicate use of excessive force, improper use of restraints and even acts of physical aggression against a resident.
- Bed sores, cuts, scabs or open wounds – These types of injuries (especially on residents with mobility issues) can indicate that staff are not providing sufficient attention or care in terms of helping residents move and stimulate blood flow throughout their bodies. These injuries can also reveal when staff are not properly cleaning wounds or are failing to provide sufficient/proper nutrition.
- Red marks or burns – These wounds can be signs of improperly restraining residents, assaults or other forms of physical abuse.
- Dramatic changes in physical appearance – Commonly, this manifests as sudden, rapid weight loss (independent of an underlying medical condition).
- Bedwetting, smelling urine/feces or poor hygiene – These red flags often mean that staff are not changing or cleaning bedding, that residents are not getting the necessary assistance to clean themselves, etc.
- Dirty, stained bedding or clothing – This is another warning sign that goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. Stained bedding and clothing commonly mean that the necessary cleaning and care is not happening.
- Infections – While infections can indicate that staff are failing to clean and treat wounds (or other injuries), they can also reveal when facilities (and their contents) are not being cleaned or sanitized.
- Emotional distance – Withdrawing from loved ones can be a sign that a loved one has been seriously abused or harmed in some way. When this red flag arises, pay attention to see if a loved one becomes particularly quiet or withdrawn around certain people (as those people may be informed about – or the perpetrators of – the neglect or abuse that may be happening).
- New strange behaviors – Play acting, taking in a baby voice or adopting other bizarre, new behaviors can be a coping mechanism for the victims of abuse.
- Missing personal items or money – When personal items or missing money cannot be accounted for, it’s possible that some type of financial abuse or theft may be occurring.
Here, it’s important to note that:
- While nursing home neglect typically comes at the hands of nursing home staff, abuse can be exacted by staff, other residents, visitors to facilities and even relatives of residents.
- Whenever you notice any red flags of nursing home neglect or abuse, it’s best to report it to authorities who can investigate the situation (and take other steps if warranted).
Nursing Home Residents Bill of Rights
The Nursing Home Reform Act (1987) gives the residents of nursing home various rights, including (but not necessarily limited to) the rights to:
- Not live in fear of being bound by physical restraint
- Live in a nurturing/caring environment free of abuse, neglect and mistreatment
- Get treatment from caring staff who provide medical, physical and other forms of assistance
- Voice grievances without reprisals or discrimination
- Social interaction/contact with other nursing home residents and family
- Dignified treatment
- Exercise self-determination
- Communicate freely and exercise freedom of speech
- Participate in creating and reviewing one’s individualized elderly care plan
- Be informed of any changes to a care plan or the status of the nursing home.
Contact a Denver Personal Injury Lawyer at the Law Office of James H. Guest, LLC
If you suspect that you or a loved one has been the target of nursing home neglect or abuse, contact a Denver personal injury lawyer at the Law Office of James H. Guest, LLC for answers about your potential claim.
Call (303) 292-2992 or email our firm via the contact form on this page. Initial consultations are free, and we do not charge ANY legal fees until or unless there is a recovery in your claim.