Nursing Home Abandonment

Do You Know How to Spot Nursing Home Abandonment?

Elder abuse has become the focus of a great deal of attention during the past two decades. With our population aging, there is an ever-increasing demand for nursing home services. Unfortunately, the increased demand for such services has not always been met with an increase in the number or quality of training of the staff employed by nursing homes. When nursing homes are understaffed or when their staff are inadequately trained, problems such as nursing home abandonment and elder abuse are the natural consequence.

Abandonment in Nursing Homes - The Facts

Over half of the nursing homes in the country are inadequately staffed. An even greater number are staffed by untrained and unqualified individuals.* In many cases, nursing home residents fail to receive even two hours or direct care per day. Residents often receive little or no direct care from a registered nurse or other true medical professional. When a nursing home fails to provide the required care for an elderly or otherwise infirm person, it is considered nursing home abandonment.

What is Nursing Home Abandonment?

Nursing home abandonment comes in many different forms. Some of the more common forms include:

  • Failure to give medication as prescribed.
  • Failure to give adequate assistance for daily activities.
  • Leaving a patient who has fallen or slipped on the floor.
  • Failure to check on a patient regularly.
  • Failure to help patients turn over in bed (leads to bed sores).
  • Failure to ensure that a patient receives proper nutrition.
  • Failure to use proper bedrails or otherwise secure a patient.
  • Failure to change soiled clothing or sheets in a timely manner.
  • Unresponsiveness to a patient’s call bell.

Nursing home abandonment may be intentional, or it may simply be the result of an unqualified and/or undermanned staff. In any case, it is a form of elder abuse. If you suspect nursing home abandonment, take immediate steps to correct it.

How to Detect Nursing Home Abandonment

Unfortunately, our elderly loved ones don’t have a flashing sign over their beds telling us that they are the victims of nursing home abandonment. Often, they won’t even tell us if they are not being properly cared for, either because they can’t or because they aren’t aware of the level of care due to them. For some, fear and shame play a large part in the maintained silence.

What to Do if You Suspect Nursing Home Abandonment

If someone you suspect a cognizant and responsive individual is the victim of nursing home abuse, ask him or her about the care they are receiving. Don’t simply ask if the care is adequate. You may not get an accurate answer with a general approach. Ask them detailed questions such as:

  • How many times per day are the nursing home staff seeing you? The nurse?
  • How long are they with you when they come in?
  • How long does it take for the nursing home staff to respond when you ring for them?
  • When was the last time you were turned over? When were your clothes last changed? The sheets?
  • When did you last receive a bath?
  • Are you getting assistance with your meals?

If your loved one is not able to answer questions, ask the nursing home staff or your loved one’s roommate. Ask for documentation supporting the level of care they claim to be giving.

Of course, if you suspect your loved one is a victim of nursing home abandonment, you should not simply take the nursing home staff’s word regarding the level of care they are providing. You should also ask to see their most recent state health inspection report.

What to Do About Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing homes which fail to properly care for those in their charge must be held accountable. If you are able, the first thing you will want to do is remove your loved one to another facility with a solid reputation (again, ask to see the most recent health inspection report).

Contact the lawyers at Sweeney Law Firm if you suspect nursing home abandonment or any other form of elder abuse. You and your loved ones may be eligible for monetary compensation for the suffering caused by inattentive nursing home staff. The lawyers at Sweeney Law Firm specialize in elder care law and will help ensure that the neglect does not continue and that your loved one receives adequate care. There is no cost or obligation for us to evaluate your case. The Sweeney Law Firm works on a contingency fee basis. There is never a fee unless a recovery is made for you.

*See: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d01912t.pdf and http://www.va.gov/oig/54/reports/VAOIG-03-00079-183.pdf