As our country’s population ages and more seniors migrate to Florida, we hear more stories of nursing home neglect.
Nursing home neglect and abuse are serious issues at facilities across the country and in our state. Neglect is considered one of the most common types of abuse. A national survey of nursing home staff shows that about 36% of nursing home residents have witnessed at least one incident of physical abuse of an elderly patient in the previous year. The research shows that 10% committed at least one act of physical abuse towards an elderly patient, and 40% admitted to psychologically abusing patients.
Another study of 2,000 nursing home residents showed that 95% said they had been neglected or seen another resident neglected. Here in Florida, about 20% of our residents are 65 or older, and we have nearly 700 licensed nursing homes with just under 85,000 beds. So the chances of a loved one being the victim of nursing home neglect in Florida are, unfortunately, fairly high.
What Constitutes Neglect?
Neglect happens when an individual doesn’t receive the proper level of care he or she needs. This level of care depends somewhat on the specific person, but for nursing home residents, it includes things like basic hygiene, assistance with eating, and help with mobility. These are described in detail below.
If a nursing home doesn’t provide proper care, residents can suffer substantial physical and psychological damage. You should know the signs of neglect to help to prevent or stop it before your loved one becomes a victim. Let’s look at the common signs of nursing home neglect that may signal a problem.
What are the Common Signs of Nursing Home Neglect?
Poor Personal Hygiene. One of the most frequent signs of inadequate care at a nursing facility is a resident who has poor personal hygiene. If a loved one is neglected, they often must “fend for themselves.” This means they are left to do these things on their own that they’re incapable of doing at this stage in their lives. The care for nursing home residents is expected to include help with basic personal hygiene, which can include help with getting dressed, brushing their teeth, clipping their nails, bathing, combing their hair, and looking presentable. When a nursing home is understaffed, its residents and their hygiene routines are ignored or overlooked. This results in the neglect of patients.
Malnutrition and Associated Physical Issues. Nursing home neglect can include physical issues like malnutrition and dehydration. Poor nutrition affects millions of people in nursing homes across the U.S. Again, malnutrition and dehydration can be caused by issues such as inadequate staffing or high staff turnover.
Unsanitary Living Conditions. Nursing homes in Florida and across the country must provide their residents with safe and clean living conditions. A failure to maintain sanitary conditions may be a sign that your loved one is being neglected. Federal law states that nursing homes must create and maintain a program “designed to provide a safe, sanitary, and comfortable environment” for their residents. In addition, Florida has specific rules and regulations for resident safety and security. When you visit your loved one, be certain that he or she has clean clothing and bedding, a clean bathroom, and a sanitary kitchen and eating area.
Unexplained Injuries. If your loved one has suffered an unexplained injury, such as a broken bone or bruises, it could be a major sign that abuse or neglect is occurring.
The Loss or Lack of Mobility. Moving around can be a frequent challenge for nursing home residents. The nursing home should make sure that its staff assists residents with moving around, exercise, and keeping as active as possible. Sure signs of neglect include a resident being left in bed for long periods of time, which can create a risk of the loss of all mobility. Without regular movement, residents can also face other health issues, like bedsores and infections.
Psychological Problems Nursing home neglect can result in emotional issues for elderly residents. A loved one may become afraid of the caregivers and reluctant to talk about the issues they’re experiencing. You may see a change in their usual disposition, as they become angry or resentful more often or more easily. Unfortunately, depression is common. Any emotional issue may cause a person to begin neglecting themselves, and they may refuse to eat, not take their medications, or fail to perform basic personal hygiene.
What is the Watch List?
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration maintains a Watch List that identifies nursing homes that have failed to meet the criteria for a conditional status during the past 30 months. A conditional status indicates that a facility didn’t meet or correct after follow-up the minimum standards at the time of an inspection.
The agency will take immediate action if a facility poses a threat to resident health or safety. You should be aware of the government resources like the Watch List that regulate Florida nursing facilities.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Neglect?
Documenting the suspected abuse is important for authorities and your nursing home neglect attorney to take action.
Take photos and keep a log of the date, times, and locations of the incident, as well as a description of the incident or nature of the abuse. Get the name(s) of the staff member(s) involved with the incident and note any witnesses who saw the abuse.
Nursing home neglect can be the basis for a lawsuit, and you can seek compensation to make sure your loved one is cared for properly.
Neglect is a tragic issue that can cause serious physical and psychological harm to elderly nursing home residents in Florida. Knowing the warning signs and indicators of abuse can help you protect your loved one.
It’s important that you consult with an experienced nursing home neglect attorney, so speak to an attorney at Trentalange & Kelley P.A.
At Trentalange & Kelley, we will help you with all of the issues to make certain that you’re successful in obtaining the compensation your loved one deserves and his or her legal rights are protected.
Call 813-226-1080 for a free consultation if you suspect nursing home neglect.