Elder Care Abuse
Nursing home abuse—also referred to as elder care abuse—is the abuse of a vulnerable adult by his or her caregiver(s) at a nursing home. In recent years, several cases of elder care abuse have made national news, highlighting a problem that has existed since elder care became a business: the truancy of elder care workers from their duty to provide care. Instead of caring for their patients, some workers harass them with violence, verbal assaults, or don’t provide necessary care in terms of hygiene, nutrition, exercise, etc.
Nursing Home Abuse is a Crime
Regardless of what it constitutes, all 50 states consider nursing home abuse a crime, with charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the level and type of abuse. Theories abound as to what causes elder abuse, but the most common ones are:
Common Forms of Nursing Home Abuse
1. Understaffed care facilities
An understaffed nursing home is similar to an understaffed nursery: the patients can’t care for themselves, and the understaffing is revealed by their poor mood and hygiene. The federal recommendation for nursing home staffing is 3.45 nursing hours per patient per day, while nursing home experts recommend 4 nursing hours per patient. In many nursing homes, nursing hours per patient fall to 3 hours and below.
2. Poorly trained, low paid employees
Low pay and poor training go hand in hand, a combination that benefits nursing homes’ finances while detracting from their care. In terms of poor training, poor care results in the form of inadequate patient records. If the caregiver isn’t trained to recognize certain conditions, they are documented according to what the caregiver does recognize. For example, a potential vascular problem might be attributed to acid reflux, or vice versa.
3. Poor caregiver selection
In some of the most harrowing cases of nursing home abuse, victims suffer at the hands of criminals whose legal background wasn’t checked during the hiring process. From a nursing home’s perspective, the motivation to avoid background checks is financial. Because people with poor training and a tainted legal record have trouble finding work, they can be hired for cheap.
The signs of abuse
Regardless of its cause, nursing home abuse has distinctive signs that should be noticeable to any nursing home manager, inspector, or family member whose loved one is a patient. Signs of elder abuse in nursing home patients can be quite obvious if you know what to look for. For example, if a loved one seems to have experienced multiple injuries such as slip and fall accidents, this may be an immediate flag they are experiencing some type of neglect. To add insult to injury, in addition to having to recover from these injuries, patients face more hardships as insurance companies hassle with victims in regards to providing compensation. In working with a personal injury lawyer in South Jersey, you see all of the shady tactics and hurdles insurance companies create for accident victims. This only further emphasizes the importance of injury victims hiring legal professionals to help them receive what is rightfully owed to them by their insurance company.
Anyone who notices one or more of these signs in a nursing home patient should contact authorities immediately. Anyone who notices one or more of these signs in a loved one who stays in a nursing home should contact an elder care attorney immediately. If they have also been injured, be sure to hire a personal injury attorney or someone that handles both situations. In addition to putting an end to the abuse and holding the abusers responsible, an elder care attorney can pursue compensation on the victim’s behalf.
Author Seth Thompson represents Drinkwater & Goldstein LLP @drinkwaterlaw.