When your loved one resides in a nursing home or other long-term care (LTC) facility, you expect them to be thoughtfully cared for, as well as treated with dignity and respect. However, due to the frequency in which nursing home abuse and neglect occurs, it’s natural to feel concerned about your loved one’s health and safety.
Facilities should respect any reasonable concerns raised by family members and address them in a timely manner. But if you wish to take a more proactive approach to your loved ones safety, there are many things family members can do to protect residents from potential nursing home abuse or neglect.
How Family Can Help Prevent Abuse or Neglect of a Loved One
- Visit often and at different times. Many studies have shown that residents who receive few or no visits from family or friends are at greatest risk of being abused or neglected. A lack of visitors can contribute to a resident receiving insufficient care, and lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation due to physical or emotional neglect. Unscheduled visits can also help compel staff to provide your loved one with optimal care, especially if they fear being reported.
- Observe and advocate. When visiting loved ones, you have the ability to monitor the quality of their care and represent their wishes. Residents with demanding care needs may be neglected by busy staff unable to give them the amount of care they require. So look for physical signs of abuse or neglect in your loved one, and talk to them about their care if they are able to do so. Also be aware of indicators of neglect in the facility such as unpleasant smells, poor-quality food or residents who seem to be unattended or unstimulated.
- Get to know facility management and staff. It can be very helpful to develop relationships and make connections with those who manage your loved one’s care. Staff who regularly see and communicate with family members may be more inclined to act on complaints or recommendations. Just remember, no matter how close or friendly you become with staff, your first concern must always be your loved one and you should never be afraid to ask questions or file a complaint if necessary.
- Report any suspicions immediately. If you note any signs of abuse or neglect in your loved one’s nursing home or LTC facility, it is critical that you file a complaint with the appropriate state agency. The facility needs to be held accountable and may not make the necessary safety changes unless they are forced to do so. You can help advance these changes by knowing your loved one’s legal rights and pursuing appropriate legal action for abuse and neglect injuries. But if you believe that your loved one or another resident is in imminent danger, call 911 right away.
- Raise awareness. By raising awareness about issues of elder abuse and neglect, you can arm yourself and others with the tools to ensure facilities that care for our loved ones are held accountable. You also serve to advocate for residents who do not have family of their own to look after their well-being.
If you are seeking more information about nursing home abuse or neglect, Hupy and Abraham has many resources available on our website. We have also developed a Guide for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Victims that you can download here for free.
If you, or a loved one, has been hurt by the negligent or abusive actions of nursing home staff, Hupy and Abraham is here to help. Contact us at 800-800-5678 or start a live chat anytime at Hupy.com.