Nursing Home

About Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

With over 1.5 million elderly and dependent adults now living in nursing homes throughout the country, abuse and neglect has become a widespread problem. Even though some nursing homes provide good care, many (far too many) are subjecting helpless residents to needless suffering and death. Most residents in nursing homes are dependent on the staff for most or all their needs such as food, water, medicine, toileting, grooming, stimulation and turning - almost all their daily care. Unfortunately, many residents in nursing homes today are starved, dehydrated, over-medicated, and suffer painful pressure sores. They are often isolated, ignored and deprived of social contact and stimulation. Because of insufficient and poorly trained staff commonly found in nursing homes (a common problem caused by corporate owners who are more concerned about their bottom line than the care they should be providing), care givers are often overworked and grossly underpaid that often results in rude and abusive behavior to vulnerable residents who beg them for simple needs such as water or to be taken to the bathroom.Abuse and neglect in a nursing home includes the following (taken from the California Elder Abuse & Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act):

Abuse includes:

 
 
  Assault
  Battery
 
  physical constraint, or prolonged or continual deprivation of food or water
  of a physical or chemical restraint or psychotropic medication for any purpose not consistent with that authorized by the physician

Neglect means the negligent failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder or a dependent adult to exercise that degree of care which a reasonable person in a like position would exercise.

Neglect includes, but is not limited to:

  to assist in personal hygiene, or in the provision of food, clothing, or shelter
  to provide medical care for physical and mental health needs.
  to protect from health and safety hazards
  to prevent malnutrition.

Federal and State laws require that nursing homes develop a plan of care and employ sufficient staffing to provide ALL the care listed on the care plan. Because most corporate owned nursing homes today are not sufficiently staffed, they can not provide ALL the care listed on the care plan. Consequently, residents are not taken to the toilet when necessary, they are often left lying in urine and feces, develop painful and life threatening pressure sores (decubitus ulcers), are not fed properly, are not given sufficient fluids, are over-medicated or under-medicated, are dropped causing painful bruises and fractures, are not cleaned or groomed, are ignored and not included in activities, are left in bed all day, are not turned, call lights not answered promptly or not at all, etc., all forms of neglect.

 

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse


Overview

Because many nursing home residents have limited abilities to communicate, identifying potential abuse requires careful monitoring.

Look for the signs of nursing home abuse in your frequent visits to the nursing home or assisted living facility.

Click on the topics to the right for more information on various signs of abuse.

 

Neglect

Some of the more commonly observed signs include:
  • Physical neglect: disregard for the necessities of daily living
  • Medical neglect: lack of care for existing medical problems
  • Failure to prevent dehydration, malnutrition, and bed sores
  • Failure to assist in personal hygiene, or in the provision of food, clothing, or shelter
  • Unsanitary and unclean conditions
  • Infections
  • Failure to protect from health and safety hazards
  • Poor access to medical services

Physical abuse

Some of the more commonly observed signs include:
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Battery
  • Rape
  • Unreasonable physical restraint
  • Prolonged or continual deprivation of food or water
  • Use of a physical or chemical restraint or psychotropic medication for any purpose not consistent with that authorized by the physician
  • Giving too much medication
  • Not giving needed medication
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Caretaker cannot adequately explain condition
  • Open wounds, cuts, bruises or welts
  • Elder reports of being slapped or mistreated
  • Slapping, pushing, shaking, beating
  • Forcing an older person to stay in a room

Verbal and emotional abuse

Creating situations harmful to the resident's self-esteem.

Possible signs of verbal or emotional abuse may include resident behavior such as:
  • Emotionally upset or agitated
  • Extremely withdrawn and non-communicative
  • Unusual behavior (sucking, biting, rocking)
  • Humiliating, insulting, frightening, threatening or ignoring behavior towards family and friends
  • Wanting to be isolated from other people

Other warning signs

Other signs to look for if you think nursing home abuse or negligence has occurred include the following:
  • Injuries requiring emergency treatment or hospitalization
  • Any incident involving broken bones, especially a fractured hip
  • Any injury or death occurring during or shortly after an episode of wandering (including outside the facility) when the staff is not aware that the resident is missing for some period of time
  • Heavy medication or sedation
  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain without physician or family notification and a change in treatment being provided
  • Unexplained or unexpected death of the resident
  • One nursing home resident injures another resident
  • Resident is frequently ill, and the illnesses are not promptly reported to the physician and family