There is a crisis in America’s nursing homes. Aging demographics, consolidation in the industry, and other factors have put a major strain on nursing facilities in Virginia and throughout the country. This has created a shortage of quality workers in these facilities, resulting in a growing number of nursing home abuse cases.
According to the National Council on Aging, as many as five million elders are abused in the U.S. each year. And one study indicated that approximately one out of every four nursing home residents has experienced at least one instance of physical abuse while in a facility. Sadly, these are most likely conservative estimates, because only about one out of every 14 cases (of elder abuse) is ever formally reported.
Just how bad is the problem? A CNN investigation published in 2017 found that more than 1,000 nursing homes were cited by the federal government between 2013 and 2016 for failure to prevent rape, sexual assault, and other forms of sexual abuse at their facilities (during this time period). Sexual abuse is the most egregious form of nursing home abuse. If this happens at more than 1,000 facilities, it is reasonable to assume that countless other facilities are routinely allowing other forms of abuse and neglect to occur.
Protecting your Loved One from Nursing Home Abuse
It is easy to believe that abuse can never happen to your aging loved one, but as widespread as the problem is, no one can feel totally secure in this assumption. If you have a loved one who is in a Virginia nursing home, you need to be proactive to help ensure that they receive the standard of care they deserve.
Here are some important steps to take to protect your aging family member from being abused in a nursing home:
Visit the Nursing Home Regularly
You have most likely heard the old adage “out of sight, out of mind.” This most certainly applies to nursing home residents. Those residents who very seldom receive visitors tend to be the ones who are neglected and/or abused by facility staff. But when family members and friends show up frequently, staff members tend to make an extra effort to ensure that these residents are taken care of. Set up a regular visiting schedule that you can stick to, whether it is once a week, every other week, or whatever. Have other family members take part in the visits when they can as well. The more visitors your loved one has, the lesser the chances they will be mistreated.
Get to Know the Staff
In addition to showing up frequently, it is important to get acquainted with the people who are charged with looking after your elderly loved one. Ask to meet with staff, supervisors, and directors regularly, so you can discuss your loved one’s situation, set expectations, and express any concerns you may have. This level of engagement shows the facility that you are committed to looking after your loved one and making sure they are given proper care.
Look Closely at your Loved One’s Living Conditions
Pay very close attention to everything that is happening with your loved one, particularly any changes you observe the since your last visit. In particular, look out for various signs of neglect and abuse, such as cuts, bruises, burns, bed sores, poor hygiene, malnutrition and dehydration, changes in behavior that seem out of character, and anything else that does not seem right. Keep detailed records of everything you observe at the facility. Write down detailed notes describing each visit and take photos when needed to provide visual evidence of the things you have noted.
Report any Clear Signs of Abuse or Neglect Immediately
If you have observed signs of abuse or neglect, you need to take action right away to get your loved one out of the situation. If this is an emergency or your loved one is in imminent danger, call 911. You can also report nursing home abuse in Virginia by calling the Adult Protective Services toll-free hotline at (888) 832-3858. Finally, get in touch with a seasoned nursing home abuse and neglect attorney to discuss the legal aspects of your loved one’s situation.
Call Schilling and Esposito Today for a Free Consultation
If you suspect neglect or abuse at a Virginia nursing facility, take steps to remove your loved one from danger, then contact Schilling & Esposito to discuss your legal rights and options. Call our office today at 804-261-1001 or message us through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. You may also stop by our office in person at your convenience.