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Nursing home abuse is, unfortunately, more prevalent than most realize. According to the WHO, 2 of 3 nurses have abused or neglected residents, and 1 in 3 seniors will experience nursing home abuse in their lifetime. 85% of assisted care homes reported at least one case of neglect.
We place our trust in nursing homes to protect our older relatives, but family members should always be on guard for signs of mistreatment. Being proactive can save a senior’s life.
What to do if You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse
Before contacting a nursing home lawyer in your state (Philadelphia), there are a few things you absolutely have to do to build your case. Then, you can start the process of finding an attorney.
1. Talk to the Staff and Nursing Home Resident
If you suspect that something is wrong, speak to the nursing home resident directly. Whether they’re your family member or friend, it’s essential to get their side of the story first before approaching the nursing home staff. That way, you can see how both testimonials interact.
When speaking to the nursing staff or ombudsman, watch their body language and tone of voice. There are logical explanations for why a nursing home resident could be showing signs of mistreatment (accidents, falls, etc.), but the way they respond can say more than enough.
2. Check For Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
If the nursing home resident isn’t able to express themselves due to sickness or trauma, you’ll need to investigate further. Some common signs of nursing home abuse include bedsores, sudden weight loss, mental deterioration, and unexplained injuries or behavioral changes.
However, some signs of nursing home abuse can’t be found on their physical person, or if they are, you’re not able to see them. Some care facilities will forbid access to a resident suddenly or hide their financial statements from you. If that happens, don’t take the staff at face value.
3. Record Evidence and Take Descriptive Notes
Recording evidence you and your lawyer can use at trial is essential. You don’t want to be put in a position where it’s the nursing home’s word against the resident. In those cases, the courts often take the side of the care home because they’ll have “evidence” to back up their claims.
The evidence you compile will depend on the nature of the abuse. For example, if the resident wasn’t correctly looked after because the home was understaffed, take a note of the time and date. If the resident has bruises, snap photos. Get everything you need to prove your case.
4. File a Complaint and Move the Resident (If Possible)
You should always report instances of elder abuse to the police, but keep in mind that some complaints take years to process. While it may take a while for a fine to be issued or for the care home to change its procedures, filing a complaint can significantly help your court case.
If you’re a family member of the resident or you have some power over where they can stay, pull them out of the facility immediately. If you’re a friend of a resident, try to call their family and discuss potential moving plans. Either way, you need to do your best to get them out of there.
5. Talk to a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Right Away
If your family member was a victim of nursing home abuse, we recommend speaking to an attorney to seek compensation. Suing the nursing home can make it easier for the law to take corrective action on the facility, saving multiple other elders from potential abuse and neglect.
Keep in mind that lawsuits must be completed by a specific deadline. If you were able to grab all the evidence you need before the trial, you’d have a good chance of winning your lawsuit.