If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

If you suspect that your loved one is being subjected to nursing home abuse, immediately notify the head of the nursing home and document it in writing. Ask the head of the organization to investigate and call you. Then:

  • Make more frequent, unexpected visits
  • Keep a close eye on the abused person
  • Document and photograph any bruises, cuts or bedsores
  • Follow up on your request with the head of the nursing home
  • Document what you are told and other things you observe at the home
  • Make a note of how the staff acts towards you
  • Talk to your loved one and other residents about signs

Assure your loved one that it is OK to talk about what is happening, and take notes.

There are four common primary forms of nursing home abuse:
 

Physical Abuse


Physical abuse is defined as the use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment.
Physical abuse can range from beating, pushing, shoving to inappropriate distribution of controlled substances and force feeding.


Emotional/ Psychological Abuse


Emotional abuse can encompass verbal assaults, insults, threats, intimidation, public embarrassment, and harassment.


This type of social abuse can cause the elderly patient to exclude oneself from daily activities, be hesitant to speak up, among other long lasting traumatic effects.


Financial Exploitation


This type of abuse refers to taking advantage of the elderly patients possessions. It is defined as improper use or distribution of the patient's funds, property, or assets.


Some forms of financial exploitation include, but are not limited to; forging a signature, convincing the elder to sign a document in a deceiving manner (i.e. contracts or a will).


Basic / Personal Hygiene Needs


The nursing home should always provide sufficient food, water, and a safe clean environment.


If a nursing home fails to provide adequate time to maintaining the nursing home impeccable, fulfilling dietary necessities properly it can put an elderly patient at serious risk of capturing an infection, and not having a strong immune system to combat an illness.

The first thing that you should look for when visiting nursing homes is at the staffing levels. It is critical that a nursing home is well staffed. This being because a vast majority of problems that can occur in a nursing home setting, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect and even malnourishment occur almost uniformly because of understaffing. However, if there are a sufficient number of caregivers, it becomes difficult for one to ignore or abuse abuse a resident- because others are around and actively monitoring the residents.

 

Another thing to be mindful when visiting a nursing home is how the staff members interact with patients. Pay close attention to how the staff speaks to and handles the patients. Are they using their names? Do the staff members seem to know the patients or, given high turnover, are they strangers? The more close interaction you are able to observe, the better sense you’ll have for what type of facility the nursing home is and whether it is one you can entrust with the care of your elderly loved one.