The Nursing Home Reform Act details nursing home residents’ rights.
The Nursing Home Reform Act lays out the following rights, afforded to all nursing home residents in the U.S.:
- To be free from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect;
- To be free from physical restraints;
- To have their privacy respected;
- To have their medical, physical, psychological, and social needs accommodated;
- To have the opportunity to participate in resident and family groups;
- To be treated with dignity;
- To exercise self-determination;
- To communicate freely;
- To participate in the review of their own care plan AND to be fully informed in advance about changes in care, treatment, and changes of status in the facility; and
- To voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal.
The Nursing Home Reform Act also dictates how nursing homes are actually supposed to operate.
They must, for example, maintain enough staff to offer appropriate care levels. Facilities also must:
- Develop a comprehensive care plan for every patient;
- Ensure that every patient receives adequate nutrition;
- Make sure that each resident receives proper vision and hearing care; and
- Prevent patients from developing bedsores.
What Are the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect?
Sometimes, no clear signs point toward neglect or abuse in a nursing home. Other situations do, though.
Some examples of common things that may indicate nursing home abuse or neglect include:
- Sudden mood changes;
- Unexplained bumps, bruises, or injuries;
- Reports of incontinence (when it was not previously a concern);
- Passiveness, emotionlessness;
- Refusal to eat; and
- Lack of interest in or missing personal items. Some people lose interest in the things they love when they are suffering from abuse or neglect. In other circumstances, nursing home staff may not allow a resident to use or enjoy their personal items.
Answering Some Common Concerns Abuse Nursing Home Abuse:
What is Nursing Home Neglect?
Nursing home neglect refers to a nursing facility’s failure to provide adequate care to a nursing home resident. This includes medical services. One of the most common reasons neglect happens in nursing homes is because of understaffing. Improper staff training is a close second.
Common signs of nursing home neglect include:
- Improperly administered medications;
- Infections; and
- Unsanitary conditions.
Nursing home neglect has a tremendous impact on residents. Neglect creates emotional and physical damage. It is very common for people who have suffered neglect in nursing homes to experience depression and behavioral changes.
What Is Physical Abuse In A Nursing Home?
The physical abuse we hear about in day-to-day life can happen in nursing homes, too. Physical abuse extends to encompass a wide range of physical acts. Kicking, slapping, hitting, choking, punching, cutting, spanking, and other forms of physical abuse are all punishable by law.
Physical abuse jeopardizes nursing home residents’ safety and security. Even if staff become frustrated with uncooperative or difficult-to-understand patients, their behavior should never veer off into violence or physical abuse.
Can A Claim be Filed Over Emotional Abuse?
Some people don’t take emotional abuse as seriously as physical or sexual abuse, but it should be given just as much attention. Emotional abuse can have a deep and lasting impact on someone’s life—and yes, it can happen in nursing homes.
Emotional abuse in nursing homes may involve bullying, verbal abuse, harassment, intimidation, humiliation, and other forms of psychological abuse. Many people who suffer this type of abuse in nursing homes are afraid to tell their loved ones. They may instead become withdrawn or act differently.
Some of the most common signs of emotional abuse in nursing homes include:
- Reports of abusive or inappropriate activity;
- Unusual behavior such as biting or sucking;
- Alterations in behavior or personality;
- Becoming withdrawn; and/or
- Becoming easy to upset or agitate.
Does Sexual Abuse Happen In Nursing Homes?
Sexual abuse can and does happen in nursing homes. It’s possible for nursing home residents to be sexually coerced, assaulted, or abused under a range of circumstances. Often, these scenarios involve nursing home caretakers or employees who take advantage of their authority over residents.
It’s very common for nursing homes to fail to respond to reports of sexual abuse. If you or someone you love has been sexually abused in a nursing home, it’s critical to contact law enforcement and a qualified nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible.
What is Exploitation?
Unfortunately, it is very easy for nursing home staff to exploit residents. Some people who live in nursing homes may have an unclear understanding of their finances or want financial assistance. Caretakers may take advantage of this and use seniors’ accounts to move money without permission.
Any time a nursing home staff member uses a residents’ property or bank account for personal gain, they commit an act of exploitation. This is a legally punishable offense.
Nursing Homes Must Keep Care Records
Under federal law, nursing homes must document the care they provide to residents. This means that medical assessments, care plans, and other information must be complete, accurate, and accessible.
Positive Caregiver Relationships
One of the ways that people can help prevent nursing home abuse and neglect is to maintain a relationship with their loved ones’ caregivers. It’s easier to notice when care goes wrong if you understand how it should be administered and you’re familiar with the people providing it.
You can also ask your loved one questions about their care. This should make it easier for instances of abuse to come to light. The issue is that, often, abuse and neglect prompt the victim to be quiet about their experiences. Don’t consider an “all clear” from your relative to be the total truth.
Frequently Asked Questions About McAllen Nursing Home Abuse
How does the law define nursing home abuse and neglect?
The CDC defines elder abuse as “the intentional act or failure to act by a caregiver…that causes or creates risk of harm to an older adult.”
When you think of it in those terms, it quickly becomes clear how commonplace abuse is in nursing homes.
Can I move my relative or loved one to a different nursing home?
Yes. Absolutely. You can and should relocate your loved one if they are suffering abuse in a nursing home. Law enforcement can help you with this process in the event of an emergency. If it is not an emergency, you can work to create a housing and transfer plan for your loved one.
What are pressure sores?
Pressure sores, or bedsores, are very common in abusive and neglectful nursing home settings. These injuries are completely preventable. The good news for nursing home residents and their loved ones is that bedsores are also treatable, but it should never need to come to that in the first place.
Many elderly people have restricted mobility. When someone can’t move from one position (like lying in a bed) for a long time, they exert continuous pressure on certain spots on their bodies. Most people’s nerves send messages to their brains to remind them to move and shift in these situations, which prevents bedsores. But someone with limited mobility may need assistance from a caregiver to move.
In abusive and neglectful nursing home settings, it’s very common for residents to develop bedsores. Staff should take active measures to prevent pressure sores (like helping residents move regularly), but they often fail to do so in settings where a facility is understaffed or staff have received inadequate training.
What is an assessment and care plan?
You might already know about assessment and care plans if you have a loved one in a nursing home.
If you haven’t had to sort out documentation from a nursing home yet, here’s a rundown:
- The Nursing Home Reform Act requires nursing facilities to create assessment and care plans for residents.
- Assessment and care plans must be completed within 14 days of a resident’s admission to a nursing home. The deadline is 7 days if the resident is a Medicare patient.
The assessment and care plan creates a plan for each resident’s care. The plan should detail the services and care a nursing home resident should receive. Caregivers should review these assessments annually or when a patient’s condition changes, whichever comes first.
What are some signs of malnutrition?
Malnutrition is one of the primary symptoms of nursing about abuse or neglect, so it’s important to understand the signs of malnutrition.
Some of the most common include:
- Hair loss;
- Muscle weakness and lethargy;
- Sunken eyes; and
- Dry mucous membranes.
What should I do if I believe someone I love is suffering from nursing home abuse?
There are some important steps to take if you think someone you love is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect. Firstly, you should reach out to the Department of Health at 512-776-7111.
After you have notified the Department of Health of your concerns, you should work on retaining a lawyer. We recommend looking for a McAllen nursing home lawyer at the Patino Law Firm. We can help you fight for the nursing home resident’s rights.
What evidence do you need to prove a nursing home abuse case in Texas?
While the evidence in every case is unique, to prove in civil court that your loved one was abused, you must generally show that:
- The nursing home owed a duty of care to the plaintiff (if the plaintiff is a resident, this is automatic);
- The nursing home breached this duty of care (by failing to abide by their legal duties); and
- The breach of duty caused the plaintiffs injuries.
How much does a nursing home abuse lawyer cost? Are nursing home abuse lawyers expensive?
- No. We accept our nursing home
cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you will not owe us any legal fees unless we win your case.
Have You Seen or Suffered Nursing Home Abuse? Call the McAllen Nursing Home Attorneys at the Patino Law Firm
At the Patino Law Firm, we’re committed to helping our clients pursue justice. Our team works to defend your rights and fight for compensation. We are a team of qualified, compassionate lawyers who can help your loved one after the stress and trauma that abuse brings. Contact us today at (956) 255-0023 to connect with a qualified legal professional who can answer your questions and assess your case.