Resources

PROTECTING YOUR ELDER AGAINST ABUSE IN NURSING HOMES

Once you have chosen what seems like a good nursing home for your loved one, there are steps you should take to protect them from any neglect or abuse in nursing homes. For more specific information on how to choose a good nursing home, click here.

Get Educated

You should be aware of what rights exist for a resident inside a nursing home. (For a general guideline, see our section entitled, "Resident Rights.") Upon admission to a nursing home, a copy of Federal and State rules and regulations should be provided. Obtain a state copy of rights and regulations as they apply to nursing homes in your state that can be obtained from the state department of health. You should be aware of who the nursing home advocate or ombudsman is and how to contact them.

Visit the Nursing Home Unannounced

One of the best ways to see how elders live inside a nursing home is to visit unannounced. It should never be required that you only visit during certain hours. If so, speak with your ombudsman to find out the regulations regarding this aspect of resident life. Visit during different times of the day when other members of the staff will be taking care of your loved one. Not only does this ensure that you meet and get to know the different individuals on the nursing home staff, but it can allow for better treatment of your loved one. If the staff thinks you may show up at any moment, they are more likely to provide better treatment.

Inspect the physical conditions in which your loved one is living. Many times, care plans are only followed during state inspections. Test out things like the call light to make sure it is accessible and is answered in an appropriate manner. Spend some time to see how the staff cares for the residents. Even if it seems like this is intrusive during certain times, surely your presence is less intrusive than that of a staff member. As a legal guardian, this is your right and duty.

Top of Page

Read the Chart

As a legal guardian, you have the right to read the chart of the nursing home resident. This is important to safeguarding the relative safety and progress of an elder person. If a staff member tells you this is not allowed, you should be wary. Speak with your ombudsman about the rules regarding this provision.

Reading the chart cannot hurt and will probably improve the quality of care the resident receives. If the staff knows you are observing the care they adminster they are more likely to provide adequate treatment. They will not want to be responsible for a problem or complication that arises.

Ask questions of the staff if the chart is difficult to read or contains information that is incomprehensible. If something appears suspicious, make a copy of the medical record right away (this is the right of a legal guardians upon request). Do not expect mistakes on the chart to be blatant (i.e. phrases such as "incident report filed" or "serious medical error"). If there is a large amount of documentation, vital signs without an accompanying illness or condition and/or monitoring, yet the nursing home never informed you of an incident, this should be warning sign.

Top of Page

Document Your Concerns

Documentation translates to accountability. The only way to have any proof for an elder abuse case is through medical records and documented or written proof of incidents. If they happened, but were never documented, they hold little or no sway in a court of law. Any and all problems should be documented and dated and, if possible, signed by the nursing home staff or administrator with whom you discussed the problem. Keep a copy for yourself and send the other to your local ombudsmen or nursing home advocate. This insures that the nursing home knows that an outside source is aware of an alleged problem. By documenting your problems, you create a paper trail that your attorney can use to substantiate a claim for nursing home abuse.

Another reason for the importance of this is that nursing homes chart and follow their patients to insure that no lawsuits are brought against them. If they have committed an act of abuse, they can cover it up very well. It is only through proper documentation that a court will have enough evidence to hear your case.

Start the documentation process as early as possible. Some powerful tools for your case include photographs or videotape of your loved one, especially if they are able to describe what happened and who abused them. Unfortunately, certain types of abuse can be life threatening and can take the life of an elder American before their case comes to trial.

Top of Page

Start a Family Council

Starting a family council can be an excellent way to voice concerns in an open forum. The larger the group, the greater the potential that the nursing home will pay attention to any concerns that are raised. Remember, these are all potential witnesses that can corroborate concerns or events.

It is also much easier to voice concerns when it isn't only you or your loved one up against the entire nursing home. The nursing home will select an administrator to respond to the council's concerns.

Keep a copy of the minutes from the council meetings and what concerns you discuss. Send a copy to the ombudsman in order to insure that the administration responds to your concerns.

Refer to the official Resident Rights and state rules and regulations for more information on how to start and maintain a Family Council.

If the safety and health of your loved one is in jeopardy, and you feel that they have suffered some form of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact us to speak with an attorney.


HOMEPAGE

AN OVERVIEW OF ELDER ABUSE IN NURSING HOMES

INSTITUTIONAL ELDER ABUSE IN NURSING HOMES

GOVERNMENT ACTION AGAINST ELDER ABUSE IN NURSING HOMES

FILING A COMPLAINT FOR ABUSE IN NURSING HOMES

PROTECTING YOUR ELDER FROM ABUSE IN NURSING HOMES

RESIDENT RIGHTS

SAMPLE NURSING HOME COMPLAINT FORM

ABUSE IN NURSING HOMES FAQs

ABUSE IN NURSING HOMES LINKS

CONTACT US REGARDING ABUSE IN NURSING HOMES

SITE MAP

Resident Rights

Visitation

Equal Access

Grievances

Married Couples

Rights and Services

Protection of Funds

Privacy

Staff Treatment

 

Links

Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes in the News

Organizations to Assist in Elder Abuse in Nursing Home Cases

Information on Rules, Nursing Homes, etc.


Community Based Sites

     
  Back to Top