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Nursing Home Abuse Prevention: How to Protect Your Loved One from Elder Abuse

Perhaps you’ve noticed one or more of the common red flags of nursing home abuse and are trying to determine what steps to take to protect your loved one from further abuse. Read on as we summarize the typical red flags and walk you through steps to take. 

If you already know that you need a nursing home lawyer to protect your loved one, don’t hesitate. Contact the experienced lawyers at Harrell & Harell, P.A., either online or by phone at (904) 251-1111.

Nursing Home Abuse Prevention

Nursing Home Abuse Red Flags

  • Unsanitary living conditions, in your loved one’s room or public areas
  • Personal hygiene concerns, such as when their hair appears unwashed
  • Nursing home staff concerns, such as turnover or a shortage of help
  • Unanswered calls for help, perhaps when your loved one uses their call light
  • Inadequate nutrition worries, whether that’s food or hydration
  • Complaints from your loved one that are out of character for them
  • Significant changes in your loved one, whether psychological, social, or emotional
  • Increasing numbers of injuries, particularly unexplained ones, such as bruises, head injuries, broken bones, and/or bed sores

How to Report Your Concerns

If concerns about a friend or family member’s health or safety are serious, contact their primary care physician and share those concerns. If appropriate, contact the social worker. If the situation is an emergency, you can call 911. 

If the situation does not appear to be an emergency but needs to be addressed, the first step of reporting abuse usually involves contacting the nursing home and listing your concerns in a respectful but firm tone. Provide specific details about:

  • What happened or is happening
  • When the event(s) took place
  • Where they occurred 

In some cases, you can work with the nursing home team to create a plan to protect your loved one, providing them with the care and attention they need and deserve. As you create this plan, keep the fact that nursing home facilities are required to provide the “highest practicable” degree of care for residents: physically, mentally, and psychosocially. After a plan is created, monitor the situation as closely as you can to ensure that it is appropriately and fully implemented.

Check in with your loved one regularly. This can be more challenging during COVID, although many facilities are following the September 2020 guidance by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that recommends “reasonable ways a nursing home can safely facilitate in-person visitation to address the psychosocial needs of residents.” 

If your loved one has the ability/capability to use technology such as Skype or Zoom, you can supplement in-person visits with video calls. If you live a distance from the facility, consider ways that friends and family members who live more closely can play a role in monitoring the resident. This may end up being a more effective strategy in the long run, with multiple people—each having different schedules—helping to protect your loved one.

As another way to provide protection, you can talk to the nursing home to help ensure that CMS guidelines to help prevent infections are firmly in place and followed. Core principles include screening people who enter the facility, including temperature checks; hand hygiene protocols; mask wearing; social distancing; and signs instructing visitors on these protective measures. Nursing home staff should be wearing appropriate PPE, with the facility having a separate area for residents with COVID-19, and both staff and residents being regularly tested.

When and How to Escalate Your Concerns

If the plan you created with the nursing home team doesn’t appear to be helping or the situation is worsening, you can contact Eldercare Locator. Here are specifics:

  • This is a public service that is provided by the U.S. Administration on Aging. You can enter the city and state or zip code of the nursing home location to find information on reporting abuse. This can be an appropriate route in situations that are serious but not yet an emergency. 
  • To contact Eldercare Locator directly, you can do so from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m, in these ways: through their online chat feature, by calling 1-800-677-1116 or emailing them at After their regular business hours, you may be given the phone number of an agency in your state. If you leave a message, they note that they’ll return your call the next day.
  • To access their TDD/TTY service, call your local relay service or dial 711. Ask to be connected to the Eldercare Locator (1-800-677-1116).
  • During regular business hours, there are Spanish-speaking specialists, with interpretation services available in 150 languages. 

An additional resource is the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). This is also part of the Administration on Aging, and they provide state-specific resources.

Nursing Home Attorneys at Harrell & Harrell, P.A.

When you have a loved one who is suffering from neglect or abuse at a nursing home, or is the subject of elder abuse in another setting, it’s important to protect them and hold the perpetrators accountable. 

To make that happen, you’ll need proof and be able to demonstrate that your loved one has not received “duty of care.” Navigating this process isn’t easy to handle on your own. Our team of nursing home lawyers at Harrell & Harell, P.A., can ensure you and your loved one are taken care of by:

  • Laying out how the facility owed your loved one a duty of care
  • Establishing how they did not meet this standard
  • Describing how, in response, your loved one has suffered
  • Helping you determine the amount of compensation to seek

We’ll start with a free consultation with absolutely no obligation, let us know when you’re ready by contacting us online or calling (904) 251-1111.