Elder Abuse: What Rights Do Nursing Home Residents Have?
Most people who live in nursing homes and other residential facilities are there because they [&hell…
Nursing home abuse lawyers can be an asset during one of life’s most trying times. There is no justification for you or a loved one to be victimized by nursing home neglect or abuse. Harrell & Harrell, P.A., has long been a community leader in the fight for Jacksonville nursing home patients’ rights. Over the years, our nursing home legal team has helped to draft legislation, lobbied for reform and testified before Congress and the Florida State Legislature regarding nursing home abuse and nursing home accidents. Our case leader Julie Harrell, in particular, is an exceptionally well qualified and experienced nursing home abuse lawyer.
Julie is our leading nursing home abuse attorney. As a personal injury lawyer, she has taken a special interest in the elderly since the earliest stages of her practice. Having personally handled dozens of nursing home abuse and nursing home accident cases in Jacksonville, Ms. Harrell brings a wealth of knowledge in regards to nursing home standards of care, daily nursing home operations and common nursing home defense strategies. She assists our clients seeking compensation for the recovery of damages from nursing home abuse and accidental nursing home deaths.
In the video shared on this page, Julie discusses how staffing problems at nursing homes, especially understaffing, can lead to nursing home neglect situations. She offers these tips if you are concerned about a loved one in a nursing home setting:
We take an aggressive, proactive role in working with governmental agencies, and nursing home and assisted-living facility care groups to eliminate abuse and nursing home neglect for future patients and their families. We are determined to be part of the solution for ending nursing home abuse of the sick and the elderly.
In 1987, nursing homes became required by law to provide the “highest practicable” degrees of care needed to achieve and maintain the physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of residents. This act laid out basic rights that nursing home patients are entitled to, including:
Whenever one of these basic rights is not met, the situation may be crossing over into nursing home neglect, perhaps even abuse.
You may wonder about the differences between nursing home neglect and nursing home abuse. They exist on a continuum of inappropriate situations, with neglect being a breach of duty that can result in harm to a patient. Nursing home abuse goes even further, with the implication being that the person or people involved actually intend to create harm. Because it isn’t always easy to determine when a situation crosses over from neglect to abuse, this can be a time to contact a Jacksonville nursing home abuse lawyer.
If you suspect neglect or even abuse, sadly, you’re not alone. According to the National Council of Aging, elder abuse is significant in the United States, with one in every 10 older adults in our country (both inside and outside of nursing homes) having experienced some form of elder abuse. This means that the number of people suffering from this, in total, might be as high as five million each year.
Although no two scenarios are identical, most cases of elder neglect fall into one of these broad categories:
Abuse can fall into the categories of:
Under-reporting of elder abuse may be rampant, with one study cited by the National Aging Council showing that only one out of every 14 cases of elder abuse ends up being reported to authorities. Reasons why can range from memory problems experienced by the patient to an inability to articulate what is taking place. This can be exacerbated when loved ones can’t visit the nursing home as often as they’d like—plus, some types of abuse are easier to identify and therefore report than others. Physical abuse that leaves bruises or fractures, for example, can be much easier to notice than emotional abuse that only takes place when the patient is alone.
We’ve created an in-depth post to help you identify different types of neglect (which may also cross over into nursing home abuse). Red flags include:
When you visit, does the room look clean? Smell fresh? What about the bedding? The bathroom? When you eat in the cafeteria, how clean are the dishes, cutlery, and glassware?
Is your loved one getting the help that he or she needs in bathing? What about washing and combing his or her hair? Brushing teeth? Clipping nails? Getting dressed?
As Julie Harrell notes in the video about nursing home abuse, understaffing can be a real concern. Do the people caring for your loved one seem frazzled? Always in a hurry? Does there always seem to be someone new caring for your loved one? Is staff turnover high? When is the last time you saw the nursing home director? Have you seen him or her since you initially moved your loved one into the facility?
What system does the nursing home use when a patient needs assistance? Call lights? Phone? No matter what system is chosen, how quickly do staff respond? If you express concern about the lack of timeliness, what do they say to you? Is the situation remedied?
Sometimes, as people get older, they struggle to swallow or dementia can make it more challenging for them to remember to eat. No matter the cause, if you suspect that the nursing home is not appropriately addressing nutritional issues for your loved one, this can be a form of neglect.
You know your loved one better than the staff at the nursing home, so be sure to evaluate complaints made by him or her. Do they seem typical for his or her personality? Or does it seem as though something bigger is going on? No matter what you determine to be true, pay even closer attention to what’s going on, especially if your loved one is also dealing with dementia.
Changes could be physical, emotional, social, or psychological—or a mix of different types. They may or may not be connected to nursing home neglect, but even if they’re not, it’s important for nursing home staff to be aware of them and respond appropriately. Are they? If your loved one is acting anxious or depressed, investigate.
Do you see more cuts and bruises? If so, what does the nursing home staff say about them? Do they proactively tell you or do you need to investigate? How reasonable do explanations given seem, and what preventive measures are being put into place to protect your loved one? What about bed sores? Are they appearing or increasing? What is the wound care plan? Head injuries after a fall? What preventive measures are being put into place to prevent future falls and injuries?
Early on, you should share your concerns with the nursing home staff. Be specific about details, including when something happened and where. Ideally, this will alert the nursing home staff and help to get preventive measures put into place. You can also talk to your loved one’s primary care physician or social worker to enlist their aid. If you’re not satisfied with results, you can call the Florida Department of Children and Families at 800-962-2873 to get guidance on how to proceed.
If your loved one is ever in an emergency situation, perhaps after a serious fall, call 911.
Other resources, if your loved one is not currently in the midst of an emergency situation, include the U.S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator. You can contact them at 1-800-677-1116 from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.
If you call the Eldercare Locator after business hours, you may be provided with a phone number for an appropriate agency to contact in your state. Voice mail messages are said to be returned the same day.
In need of TDD/TTY services? You can call 711 and ask to be connected to 1-800-677-1116. Eldercare Locator also provides an online chat feature during business hours, as well as an email address: email@example.com. Spanish-speaking specialists are available during business hours, with interpretation services available for 150 languages.
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) by the Administration on Aging (AoA) is another resource, and you can find information by state here.
It happens in the most caring of families, so there is no reason to feel shame. In fact, if you or a loved one is are a victim of nursing home neglect, abuse, or accidental injury, you may be entitled to seek compensation for personal damages such as:
A: All states in the United States have systems in place for reporting neglect and/or abuse allegations and investigating the situation. The investigation will typically include interviews with the nursing home resident, family members, the nursing home staff, and any other relevant parties. If these complaints are found to be valid, remedies will put into place with the purpose of protecting the patient going forward. Or, it may make sense to move your loved one to another facility.
No matter which of these take place, you may still not feel satisfied with the remedies or feel that your loved one was appropriately compensated for harm done to him or her. In that case, you can contact a nursing home abuse attorney to inquire into bringing about a civil suit for damages. In some instances, this may lead to a criminal investigation and prosecution.
A: A resident living in a nursing home where Medicare payments are accepted is protected by the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, and is required by law to be protected against abuse, including physical, verbal, sexual, and mental abuse. If the nursing home in question is not regulated by federal statute, then the patient’s rights are determined by state law, which vary from state to state.
A: One or more of three situations might occur. First, an adult protective services agency might conduct an investigation and present findings. The goal of this is to provide fast relief to the victim and to prevent further harm from taking place. You may end up filing a civil suit (lawsuit) for damages; this is intended to compensate your loved one for neglect or abuse that took place. Finally, a criminal investigation and prosecution may occur, which takes place to punish criminal conduct.
A: This issue can arise if the nursing home resident had his or her resources used inappropriately for someone else’s advantage or profit. This is often in relation to the person’s money or property, especially when it’s taken without the patient’s consent, or is taken via deception or false pretenses, or the perpetrator uses duress or undue influence to get his or her way. State law varies on how exploitation should be defined in this context. Financial abuse is all too common and, if you feel this is occurring with your loved one, investigate and reach out for appropriate help.
A: There is no standard timeframe for the compensation process. We encourage you to contact us with specifics about your case.
When nursing home abuse occurs, it is important to accurately document the events surrounding the patient’s abuse and/or accidental death. At Harrell & Harrell, P.A., we understand this can be a very trying time in your family’s life. That’s why we can arrange for a private consultation at our office, your home or hospital room to discuss the specific details of your nursing home abuse case. Your family doesn’t have to go it alone. When you work with our qualified nursing home abuse lawyers, you gain the experience of our entire personal injury law firm. Use our website’s convenient contact form for a prompt, private email response to your questions.
You can also find information about settlements we’ve won for our clients. These include one where an elderly client was awarded $700,000. She had suffered from multiple bed sores because of lack of repositioning and improper wound care, as well as numerous falls that led to bruising and fractures due to a lack of supervision.
Remember: You never have to face a nursing home or its big insurance company alone. Call Harrell & Harrell, P.A., today at 904-251-1111 or 1-800-251-1111 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our Jacksonville nursing home abuse lawyers.
Harrell & Harrell Personal Injury Attorneys Specialize in Nursing Home Abuse
Most people who live in nursing homes and other residential facilities are there because they [&hell…
Florida has one of the largest elderly populations in the United States. Many of these […]
Perhaps you’ve noticed one or more of the common red flags of nursing home abuse […]
You may hear the terms of “nursing home neglect” and “nursing home abuse” and wonder […]
Nursing homes are supposed to provide elderly individuals with a high level of care and […]
Unfortunately, elder abuse is all too common. Reports from the National Center for Elder Abuse [&hel…
The paralegal Beth Osburn was absolutely incredible. Her assistance, dedication, responsiveness, encouragement, and overall compassion helped me through an incredibly difficult time. I never believed I would need to consult an attorney and was somewhat negatively biased in my expectation of how that experience might be. However, based on my experience with Harrell and Harrell, I have recommended and will continue to recommend them to anyone put in the difficult situation of needing legal counsel/assistance.star star star star star