If you have a loved one who is living in a nursing home, the chances are high that you were involved in making the choice to transition them into nursing home care. Likely, your ultimate decision was based on the belief that your loved one would receive a higher degree of care in a nursing home than they would otherwise, and that this care was critical for their wellbeing.
While you may have been well-intentioned, and while you may believe that the nursing home is the best place for your loved one (there may not be another viable alternative) nursing homes aren?t always the safe, care-filled places that they purport to be. In fact, nursing home abuse is a serious problem in many nursing homes throughout Georgia and the U.S. If you have a loved one who is living in a nursing home, here are some tips for protecting them from nursing home abuse:
Know the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
While no one likes to think that their loved one may be a victim of abuse, knowing the signs (and being prepared to act if you notice any of the signs) is important. Signs of nursing home abuse include:
- Changes in condition, such as losing weight or becoming ill inexplicably;
- Poor hygiene, such as unwashed hair;
- Development of bedsores or other health concerns;
- Changes in mood and emotions, including withdrawal, depression, and angry outbursts;
- Physical injuries and marks, such as bruising, bite marks, cuts, etc.;
- Bigger physical injuries that aren?t explainable, such as a broken hip or bone fracture;
- Changes in finances, such as taking out a loan or a large cash withdrawal (which could be a sign of financial exploitation of the resident); and
- Torn or bloodied clothing and undergarments.
Sometimes, signs of a facility where nursing home abuse or neglect are prevalent will be evident by searching for clues outside of the behaviors of your loved one. For example, pay attention to surroundings and other residents. Do things seem clean and organized? Do residents seem happy? Does staff interact with residents in a way that is loving and kind?
Nursing home abuse is more likely to affect those who don?t have strong support from family members who are visiting on a regular basis. The more that you visit, the more opportunity you?ll have to identify any of the signs of nursing home abuse mentioned above. You?ll also have more time to interact with your loved one, who may feel comfortable sharing with you whether or not they are being abused. On each visit, be sure to check in with your loved one about the care they are receiving.
Schedule Regular Meeting with Nursing Home Staff
Another way to prevent abuse is to schedule regular meetings and check-ins with nursing home staff members. You deserve to know the level of care that your loved one is receiving, as well as how they appear to be responding to that care. By speaking with the staff, you?ll probably get a good idea of whether or not enough time is being spent on your loved one to provide them with quality care.
Learn More About Facility Rankings
If you haven?t yet selected a nursing home for your loved one, we recommend using the Nursing Home Compare tool provided by Medicare.gov to compare and contrast different nursing homes near you. Using this tool, you can see if a nursing home scores average, below average, or above average on a number of different criteria, including staffing, quality measures, health inspections, and an overall ranking.
If your loved one is living in a nursing home that has a poor ranking, be extra vigilant, and check in regularly. You may also consider moving them to a nursing home with a higher ranking. If your loved one is living in a nursing home that has a better ranking, don?t assume that abuse can?t happen – while it may be less likely, abuse and neglect is possible anywhere.
Contact an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
If you suspect that nursing home abuse is occurring, you should gather any evidence you can to support your suspicions. Then, turn to a qualified nursing home abuse attorney in Georgia who can review your evidence, offer advice and guidance, and assist you in pursuing a nursing home abuse claim if appropriate.
To schedule a free consultation with the skilled nursing home abuse lawyer at Ross Moore II, P.C., please call us at (404) 491-8511, send us a message, or visit our Atlanta, GA office today.