If you suspect that a loved one is being abused by their care-givers in a nursing home or assisted living facility, take the following steps:
- Visit frequently. Vary your visits to different times of the day and evening to assess the care provided during all times of the day, night, weekends, and holidays.
- Talk to nurses and aides about your concerns.
- Talk to the Director of Nurses, Social Worker and Administrator.
- Talk to the doctor.
- Call the ombudsman. Most states have a long term care ombudsman program. Their success rate and true commitment to quality care depend on each ombudsman program. In general, ombudsmen can help you get a new mattress for your family member, make the nursing home pay for lost or stolen items, and other types of simple problems; however, they may not be able to tackle serious problems involving lack of care. There are some aggressive ombudsman offices, but they are at the mercy of the state health department bureaucracy. It is best to use this office for non-life threatening situations.
- Call your state survey agency. In each state there is a division of the State Department of Health that deals with oversight of nursing homes and enforcement of nursing home regulations. This agency conducts yearly surveys of each nursing home and also investigates complaints filed by family members. Find out who the state licensing agency is from your nursing home. They are required to provide this information to you when your place a resident in the nursing home.
- If you believe the nursing home resident is a victim of any form of abuse or neglect by the nursing home, you can and should file a complaint with state Licensing and Certification; they are required to investigate your complaint. The Licensing and Certification division of each state may substantiate your complaint; if they do so, the agency has the authority to issue a citation against the facility, impose a fine, and require corrective action.
- You can file a complaint with Licensing and Certification, and they must investigate the complaint. Licensing and Certification can either substantiate or unsubstantiate your complaint. If the complaint is substantiated, this agency can issue a citation and impose a fine and require corrective action.
- Make sure to have good independent documentation of your charges, such as doctor or hospital records, that show the true nature of the problem.
- Many family members are concerned that if they make a complaint and their relative is still in the nursing home, the facility may try and retaliate on the relative. Since you cannot be at the nursing home twenty four hours a day, this could be a real concern, especially if your relative is unable to communicate well and tell you about any retaliation. Some family members wait until they move their relative out of the facility to file a complaint. Of course, you can always file a complaint if your relative dies, especially if you think that the lack of care or abuse was a factor in the death.
- State Civil Litigation-One of your remedies is to take private legal action against the nursing home in state court. Each state has a different set of laws, but the most common suits are for abuse and neglect or wrongful death. Some states also have unfair business practice laws that allow any individual to sue, but usually without much compensation. If your state has an effective unfair business practice law, your attorney may use it along with a neglect and abuse or wrongful death case to get remedial action. If you suspect a loved one may be in danger in a nursing home, call an experienced attorney. It won’t cost you anything to discuss your concerns, and you may decide that moving forward with a claim of abuse or neglect is your best option. Don’t let your loved one suffer at the hands of an unethical nursing home.
If you notice any one of these signs of nursing home abuse or neglect, you need to
Find an experienced nursing home negligence attorney to start a prompt investigation to find out if your loved one is being mistreated. They’ll do everything they can to hold the facility accountable for the harm they’ve caused and work hard to make sure it never happens again.
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