Signs of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
Making the decision to trust the care of an aging loved one to another is an extremely difficult decision. To add to your stress, you hear news stories about the poor treatment of our elderly in nursing homes, ranging from financial exploitation, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse to basic neglect. How do you avoid potential nursing home abuse, ensuring your elderly loved one is safe from all forms of elder abuse?
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect or Improper Care to Watch For
- Bruising. Skin on the elderly is more sensitive and fragile making it easy to bruise. However, should you see finger-shaped or handprint-shaped bruises or bruises that could have been caused by a fall, start asking questions.
- Falls. Know how the staff handles falls, the immediate care, and follow-up care. How do they communicate with you about the fall? Are there call buttons near the bed and bathroom? Are spills and accidents cleaned up quickly? Are hallways well lit and clutter-free?
- Bedsores. If your loved one is able to get up and around yet has bedsores, ask why he or she is spending so much time in the same position. For those confined to the bed, check the medical chart to see how often he or she is being rotated.
- Personal care. How often does your loved one get a shower or bath? How often are teeth brushed or dentures cleaned? Is your loved one well groomed and appropriately dressed for the season? Is he or she well nourished?
- Smells. There are the “normal” smells of a nursing facility; however, if it smells musty or reeks of urine then you might question how well the facility is being cleaned.
Ensure Nursing Home Staff Are Properly Trained
- Staff Training. What types of training does the staff receive? Who does the training and how often? Is the staff licensed and certified? Does the facility have an abuse prevention training program?
- Staff working schedules. Ask about staff work schedules. Do they work overtime or double shifts? Is the facility fully staffed at night and on weekends? A constant state of short staffing can affect residents’ care. Ask for the nursing home’s staffing ratios or go to the Nursing Home Compare tool at Medicare.gov to check their staff ratio rating.
- Staff Interactions. Listen to conversations — not just between the staff and residents but also among the staff itself. How quickly does the staff respond to residents’ requests?
- Preventing nursing home abuse. Does the facility do background checks on all employees? How does the facility monitor for abuse? Have there been any complaints or nursing home abuse lawsuits filed against it?
Is It Time to Take Legal Action?
If your elderly loved one has been mistreated or suffered injuries because of nursing home abuse or neglect, put a stop to it immediately. Talk with the facility’s administration or file a grievance.
Should you need a personal injury lawyer in the Kansas City area with expertise in nursing home abuse lawsuits, contact the lawyers at Nash & Franciskato for a free, no-obligation review of your case.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published November 2, 2015. It was reviewed on June 6, 2023, and updated for content and accuracy.