Need to Know: Preventing Nursing Home Abuse

About 1.4 million Americans reside in nursing homes, putting a significant portion of the population at risk for abuse at the hands of overworked, undertrained caregivers. As the population ages, more and more elderly individuals will require care – and unless things change, the rate of nursing home abuse will continue to rise.

Emotional abuse is the most common form (11.6%), closely followed by financial exploitation (6.8%) and sexual abuse (6.8%), according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. In fact, one national survey revealed that 40% of nursing home staff admits to committing emotional abuse. While this type of trauma can easily go unnoticed by family members, its impact leaves invisible scars. Plus, bear in mind that only an estimated 20% of cases are ever reported.

Is Poor Management to Blame?
While there is no excuse for abuse or substandard care, the nursing home’s management is often just as much to blame as the caregivers themselves. Studies show that 90% of nursing homes are unstaffed, with nurse aide to patient ratios sometimes skyrocketing to 1:30. This leads to burnout and an overall decreased quality of care – even among caregivers with the best intentions.

Choosing the Right Nursing Home
The decision to move your loved one to an assisted living facility is never an easy one. Most elderly people feel reluctant to leave their homes behind, even if managing a household and their medical care has become too burdensome.

To ensure your family member receives the best care possible, be sure to do the following:

  • Involve them in making a list of potential nursing homes/long-term care facilities
  • Consult your loved one’s doctors to learn more about their specific needs
  • Research each nursing home on the list
    • Check safety records
    • Read reviews
    • Ask for referrals (from friends, family, medical care providers, etc.)
    • Compare costs
    • Consider available Medicare or Medicaid benefits
  • Tour a few facilities after narrowing down the list
    • Note the number of staff members and their overall demeanor
    • Ask about a typical day (available activities, menu options, etc.)
    • Inquire about level of independence
    • Observe interactions between staff and residents
    • Check out the size and cleanliness of rooms/units

Trust Your Gut
If you suspect that your loved one is not receiving adequate care, it is important to trust your gut. Here at West Law Firm, we recommend sharing your concerns with a qualified nursing home abuse lawyer. Our team can help gather evidence and offer trusted legal advice along the way.

There are other cases where potential abuse is more than a hunch. If your family member openly voices a concern or suffers injuries that clearly indicate abuse, it is crucial to contact a Berkeley County lawyer immediately. Here’s what to watch for:

  • Bed sores or open wounds
  • Loss of hair
  • Unexplained bruises or bleeding
  • Burns
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Torn, soiled, or stained clothing or bedding
  • Changes in personality, behavior, sleeping/eating, etc.

Keep in mind that even a seemingly minor complaint could indicate a much larger problem – and the nursing home must be held accountable. Nursing home residents’ top complaints include:

  • Slow response from staff
  • Social isolation
  • Low quality food
  • Roommate conflicts
  • Poor sleep
  • Lost/stolen belongings

Your Berkeley County Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
Our team is committed to ending elder abuse, ensuring nursing home residents here in the Lowcountry are treated with the dignity they deserve. If your loved one is receiving substandard care in a Berkeley County, SC long-term care facility, get in touch today. To schedule your free consultation at our Moncks Corner office, call 843-761-5626 or click here.

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