If you have made the difficult decision to place a family member in a nursing home, you know that the health and safety of your loved one is uppermost in your mind. You expect the facility to provide quality care in a protective environment.
While most nursing homes do exactly that, there are, unfortunately, exceptions. If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, there are immediate steps you can take to protect your loved one.
Though your family member might be afraid or unable to communicate incidents of abuse or neglect, there are signs to be aware of, including:
- Sudden weight loss
- Medication problems
- Facility staff insists on prior notice before your visits
- Suspicious financial transactions
- An unexplained injury
- An abrupt change in your loved one’s behavior or mood
If you have reason to believe your loved one has been abused or neglected, you’ll need to gather information that supports your belief.
Write down what you’ve noticed, where on your loved on the signs of abuse or neglect are seen, and the date and time you first noticed the signs. In addition, take photos of the conditions or injuries.
Also, speak to trustworthy caregivers or other residents about your concerns or the signs you’ve noticed. It’s possible that the signs are indications of behavior or medical issues of which you were unaware.
That’s why it’s important to talk with nursing home staff as well at this point, so you can hear from them about possible issues. If they cannot or do not offer satisfactory explanations, that is itself another sign of possible abuse or neglect.
And if they will not allow you to speak in private with your loved one about incidents or issues, that can mean you have an emergency that must be dealt with immediately or that you must remove your family member from the facility. Please read on for more about those situations.
If the suspected abuse or neglect results in an emergency, call 911 so that your loved one gets immediate treatment and care.
Your call will ensure that law enforcement will be involved and witness the situation and signs you’ve observed. Report any alleged abuse to your loved one or other residents so that an investigation can be launched.
If your report is made in good faith, you won’t be liable, even if it turns out that no harm was done.
Removing your loved one
If your concerns of neglect or abuse are confirmed, and the nursing home doesn’t satisfactorily address the issue, you should immediately move your loved one from the facility and place them where they can get the care they need and deserve.
Also, be sure to move your loved one somewhere safe before you report the incident(s) or file a claim. In New York, there is a three-year statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit against the facility, from the date of the injury.