What Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect DOESN’T Look Like

by Olin on August 29, 2013

Nursing home abuse and neglect happens, sadly, much more commonly than it should. Unfortunately, because those residing at nursing homes are often shamed into silence or incapable of fully standing up for themselves and their rights, nursing homes that abuse and neglect their residents are not brought to justice all too often. There are the blatantly obvious signs of nursing home abuse—perpetual wounds and bruises—but that’s not all there is to it. Every case is different, and sometimes, especially when you’re intimately involved in the situation, it’s hard to look at something and define whether it is elderly abuse and/or neglect. However, there are very clear laws defining what should be happening in a nursing home. A good first step when considering a potentially abusive or neglectful situation is to understand what abuse and neglect doesn’t look like. Seeing what the picture should look like gives us a better hint to whether there’s something wrong or out of place.

Nursing Home Services

Let’s start with the nursing home itself and what standards that it is held to; ideally, you’d want the nursing home for your loved one to exceed these standards.

Firstly, the nursing home should design a specific, personalized, and comprehensive plan for caring and accommodating for each and every resident. This plan should not include any ambiguity and should be fleshed out to the resident and the resident’s family’s satisfaction. Every different person has different needs and should be cared for according to their own specific circumstances; care should be customizable rather than based on a customary practice.

Following this, these plans need to be carried out effectively, honestly, and wholeheartedly. There are federal standards of quality that need to be met regarding food, medication, rehabilitation, nursing and social services. This doesn’t need to happen for the first few months or few years but forever—as long as the person is a resident at the nursing home. Each resident should be routinely assessed to ensure that everything is still going according to plan and that the plan is still suitable for the situation.

Additionally, if a nursing home is large enough to be housing over 120 beds, it is required by law to employ a full time social worker.

These services are not niceties, they are required by the Nursing Home Reform Act, a federal law. Ignoring them or neglecting to provide these services is not considered just rude or immoral—it is breaking the law.

Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights

The Nursing Home Reform Act establishes and outlines many basic rights for nursing home residents. These include the resident’s right to the following:

  • Privacy

  • Be informed of your rights

  • Dignity

  • Freedom from discrimination

  • Freedom from restraint

  • Be informed of medical care and treatment

  • Visitation

  • Complain

  • Protection against transfer and unfair discharge

  • Choice of physicians

  • Involvement in treatment decision making

  • Freedom from abuse

  • Reasonable accommodation

  • Refuse treatment

  • Confidentiality

There are many other specific rights that could be applicable and relevant to more specific circumstances.

So if all of this isn’t painting a picture of conditions similar to what you or your loved one are seeing, then consider reporting the situation to authorities and/or getting in contact with a lawyer who can help you defend your rights.

Olivia lin currently writes for The Law Offices of W.T.Johnson, a personal injury law firm in Dallas, TX.

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