Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have a high level of responsibility–often, they care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Family members of residents place a lot of trust in these facilities to care for their elderly or disabled loved ones.
Unfortunately, misconduct on the part of nursing home staff members is far too common in the industry. Despite government regulations intended to protect the well-being of nursing home residents. Abuse, neglect, and other unethical behaviors are not unheard of.
If you suspect that your loved one is being mistreated by their assisted living facility, you may be right. Laws and regulations vary from state to state and city to city, but in general, nursing home care facilities should not engage in the following practices.
Things Nursing Homes Are Not Allowed to Do
Abuse or neglect residents
It is estimated that one in six elderly people experiences abuse in a community setting (such as a long-term care facility). Not all abuse is physical, either. There are several types of abuse or neglect that may occur at a care facility:
- Psychological or emotional abuse
- Financial abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse
All of these types of abuse can negatively impact a victim’s physical and emotional well-being. If you notice unexplained injuries, unusual behavior, or unsanitary conditions when you visit your loved one, it may be a sign that they are being abused or neglected.
Federal law also requires that nursing home residents be treated with dignity and respect. Residents should be allowed to make their own decisions (as long as these decisions do not conflict with their care plan). Staff members should not use physical restraints on residents unless they pose an immediate danger to themselves or others.
Violate residents’ right to privacy
Many nursing homes are considered healthcare providers. This means they are subject to HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA is a federal law that states that, in general, medical providers may not share patients’ protected health information without their consent.
Even in facilities that are not considered healthcare providers, resident privacy should be respected at all times. Residents should have control over who has access to their belongings and living space. Their medical records and other personal information should not be disclosed to people or organizations without the consent of the resident or their family members.
Withhold medical treatment or medication
Nursing home staff members have a duty to follow residents’ care plans. This includes administering medication and other medical care. They should also never administer medications that are not part of the treatment plan.
Discriminate against residents
Federal law prohibits nursing homes from discriminating against residents based on race, gender, sexuality, age, disability, religion, nationality, or any other protected characteristic. All residents should be treated with equal respect, dignity, and consideration.
Engage in financial exploitation
Nursing homes may not require residents to allow the facility to manage their finances. If the resident gives consent for the facility to be their financial custodian, the facility must provide quarterly financial statements. They may not prevent a resident from accessing their money.
Additionally, nursing homes should be transparent about their fees and billing practices.
Residents have the right to receive visitors, and nursing homes cannot interfere with that right. This is important because visitation can help residents stay connected with their loved ones and maintain their social and emotional well-being. It can also help residents feel less isolated and lonely.
There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if a resident is contagious with a disease, the nursing home may restrict visitation to protect other residents. Even in these cases, the nursing home must make reasonable efforts to allow the resident to communicate with their loved ones.
What Should I Do if I Suspect My Loved One Is Being Mistreated in a Nursing Home?
If you suspect that your loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home, it is essential to take immediate action to ensure their safety and well-being. Here are some steps you can take:
Document any and all evidence
Start by closely observing any concerning signs or changes in your loved one’s behavior, physical appearance, or living conditions during your visits. Document any incidents, injuries, or unusual occurrences with dates and details. If possible, take photos of any visible injuries or neglect. Keeping a record will provide crucial evidence if you need to take further action.
Communicate with nursing home staff
Approach the nursing home staff with your concerns in a calm and respectful manner. Ask for explanations and seek solutions to any issues you have noticed. Sometimes, issues can be resolved through better communication or by addressing misunderstandings. Ensure you talk to the appropriate staff members, such as the nursing home administrator or director of nursing.
If your suspicions persist or you encounter resistance from the facility in addressing the concerns, report the mistreatment to the appropriate authorities immediately. Contact your local Adult Protective Services (APS) agency or state’s long-term care ombudsman program to file a complaint. They are mandated to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect in nursing homes and protect the rights of residents.
Consider contacting a nursing home abuse lawyer
You can consult with an attorney who works in elder abuse law to understand your legal options and effectively advocate for your loved one’s rights.
Do not be afraid to speak up if you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected by their caregivers at a nursing home or other long-term care facility. Their well-being and quality of life are of the utmost importance, and you have a legal right to ensure their needs are being met.
How Can a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Help?
As an advocate for your abused or neglected family member, you may feel like you are alone in the fight for their quality of care. If a nursing home facility has acted negligently, they may be unwilling to admit to their negligent conduct or to make things right. You do not have to fight them by yourself.
If your loved one is being abused or neglected, an attorney can help you take legal action against the care facility. Your legal representative can help you understand federal and state laws regarding nursing homes and determine whether you have a case. They will also work to compile evidence and negotiate the settlement you and your loved one deserve.
The Advocates personal injury law firm is here for you. Our competent, compassionate staff will listen to your story, answer your questions, and provide the resources you need to access physical, emotional, and financial recovery. With an Advocate, you are never alone.