You are shaken and unsure how to proceed. The nursing home that is supposed to be helping its residents live with as little pain as possible—and with as much dignity as possible—is instead the scene of abuse or neglect. You believe a resident is being hurt by a nursing home staff member.
You know that you should take action, but what should you do? What can you do to help your loved one—or another nursing home resident—before she suffers further harm at the hands of those who should be protecting her?
Here’s How You Can Help
If you witness nursing home abuse or neglect or have reasonable suspicion that it occurred, then you can:
- Call 911 if you believe that anyone is in imminent danger.
- Contact the family of the nursing home resident, or your own relatives if your loved one is the victim.
- Schedule a meeting with nursing home managers if you think that they are unaware of the abuse or neglect and would be willing to take immediate action if they knew about it.
- Contact your local long-term care sub-state ombudsman. Find the name, email address and phone number for the ombudsman who serves the Illinois county where the suspected abuse occurred.
- Contact the Illinois Department of Aging Senior Helpline at 866-800-1409. This adult protective services hotline is available 24 hours a day.
- Contact the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-252-4343 or by filing a complaint form.
You have options about whom to call, but it is important that you call someone and that you do it promptly. Your action could help save a nursing home resident from embarrassment, from physical pain, from significant injury, or even from death. Thus, we encourage you not to hesitate, but instead to take action if you have reason to believe that a nursing home resident has been abused or neglected in an Illinois facility.
In Some Cases You Must Make the Call
Like other states, Illinois lists certain people who, because of their professions, are mandatory reporters of abuse or neglect. These mandatory reporters are required by law to tell the state if they suspect that certain people—such as nursing home residents—are the victims of abuse or neglect. Often, these people are mandatory reporters because they are in positions where they may see the signs of abuse or neglect early and where they can take action so that nursing home residents are protected from further harm.
In Illinois, a person is only a mandatory reporter if the person who is allegedly being abused is unable to make the report independently. This may be applicable to many nursing home residents. Thus, according to the Illinois Department on Aging, people delivering certain professional services to older people are mandatory reporters. This includes professionals doing the following kinds of work:
- Social services
- Adult care
- Law enforcement
- State service to seniors
- Social workers
Whether you are a mandatory reporter or a voluntary reporter, Illinois law provides civil and criminal immunity to the reporter as long as the allegations are made in good faith.
Reports should include information about the person being abused, the person committing the alleged abuse, and the reasons why abuse is suspected.
It may be difficult to report abuse, but it may be the legal and moral thing to do so that future incidents of abuse can be prevented. Please make your report today and learn more tips and resources for protecting nursing home residents if you suspect that any abuse or negligence has occurred.