Nursing homes offer the elderly a safe place to live when they need round-the-clock medical care. However, loved ones must stay vigilant to ensure the patient is not experiencing neglect because these individuals are vulnerable and generally cannot advocate for themselves. If you suspect nursing home neglect, contact a nursing home negligence attorney to discuss your concerns and review the evidence.
While it can be challenging to know when to raise concerns about neglect, there are usually clear indicators that something isn’t right. Here’s what to do if you suspect nursing home neglect of a loved one.
Know the Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
It can be challenging to spot nursing home neglect, partially because the symptoms might present themselves slowly over time. However, you should trust your instincts if you’ve seen any of the following signs of nursing home neglect:
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss
- Medication issues
- The nursing home staff suddenly prohibits you from seeing your loved one
- Changes in fees or bills without notice that appear suspicious
- Unexplained changes in your loved one’s behavior
- New injuries
The challenge in spotting nursing home neglect is that elderly patients are generally there because they are not in great health in the first place. It can seem as though changes in your loved one’s mental or physical wellbeing are the result of their ailments. However, as their patient advocate, you should raise your concerns to keep them from further neglect.
Additionally, illnesses can spread quickly within nursing homes when the staff is inattentive. Because staff members see many patients within any given day, they could be tracking dangerous bacteria or viruses like COVID-19 from patient to patient. It’s essential for loved ones to raise concerns if they believe the staff is not doing their part to prevent such illness spread.
When to Report Nursing Home Neglect
It’s crucial that you raise your concerns with the nursing home immediately. Request a meeting with the nursing home manager or another person in charge. When available, review the patient’s medical charts and how often they are receiving care. Ensure that this is in line with the expectations the nursing home set when the patient enrolled there.
If the patient’s symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 immediately and do not wait for a meeting with the nursing home staff. This will ensure that your loved one gets the medical attention they need, regardless of whether neglect is involved. Once the paramedics arrive, if they see signs of neglect, law enforcement can get involved and serve as a witness to your loved one’s neglect.
Document the Signs of Neglect
In cases in which the nursing home is not willing to make adjustments to the care of your loved one after a meeting, you must start documenting the situation to get law enforcement involved. Documenting the situation can include any of the following:
- Take photos of your loved one’s injuries or signs of neglect.
- Get copies of the patient’s medical records.
- Collect witness accounts from other residents or staff that you trust.
As part of this process, you can file a complaint with the state agency that oversees the nursing home where your loved one resides. If the agency sees adequate signs of neglect, it will launch its own investigation.
Move Your Loved One to a Different Nursing Home
While change can be challenging for elderly individuals, sometimes moving them to a different facility is the fastest and most reliable way to stop the neglect. It doesn’t change the wrong that has been done, but it does prevent future wrongs from happening.
Be sure to vet the new nursing home well. While you don’t want to waste time in getting your loved one moved, you also don’t want to make a poor decision that will only lead to more neglect in a new nursing home. Interview the staff, tour the facility, and read reviews from other people who have loved ones at the facility.
Sadly, the process for filing a complaint with the state agency or seeking legal recourse in the matter might take longer than you feel comfortable with when the wellbeing of your loved one is at stake. Your first priority is to ensure your loved one is well. The second priority is to ensure no one else has to go through the neglect that your loved one did by filing a complaint and seeking counsel from a nursing home negligence attorney.
Speak to an Experienced Nursing Home Negligence Attorney
Just like you should take your time in choosing the proper nursing home for your loved one, take your time in choosing your attorney—it’s not so simple as searching “elder law attorney near me.” You should settle on a knowledgeable legal team that can protect your loved one’s best interests.
The law firm of Goldman & Daszkal calls upon three decades of legal experience to ensure you get outstanding service and attorneys who will do what’s best for you and your loved ones. If you’re concerned about nursing home neglect, contact us for a free consultation where we’ll review your case with you.