Although many nursing homes provide quality care for seniors, there have been numerous scandals involving the neglect and abuse of residents. Every year, nursing homes across America face consequences because of significant lapses in care. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you need to be aware of what constitutes nursing home neglect.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services created a “Bill of Rights” for nursing home residents. This publication defines neglect as a failure to meet the needs of nursing home residents. Abuse is deliberate mistreatment, but neglect can be intentional or inadvertent. Sometimes, there is an overlap between elder abuse and neglect. However, the labels are less important than ensuring the protection of your loved one.
What Can Constitute Neglect in a Nursing Home
Practically speaking, there is almost no limit to the ways in which a person can suffer neglect in a nursing home. The Nursing Home Toolkit provides information on how to recognize neglect. Here are some of the more common forms of neglect a resident can experience:
Medications. Neglect occurs when care professionals fail to administer medications on time. The untimely delivery of drugs may compromise a person’s health. It can also cause unnecessary physical pain if the medication is for pain relief.
Personal hygiene. A person in a nursing home should receive the necessary assistance to maintain daily personal hygiene. Care professionals who fail to assist with the following could be termed neglectful:
- Nail care
- Brushing or combing hair
- Brushing teeth or dentures
- Application of personal hygiene products such as deodorant and moisturizer
Clean clothes and bedding. Neglect occurs when care professionals let residents lie in filthy bedding or wear dirty clothes.
Nutrition. Nursing home residents should receive food of sufficient quantity to meet their nutritional needs and maintain their body weight. Neglect occurs when nursing homes serve low-quality food and inadequate portions.
It also occurs when care professionals fail to assist residents who need help with feeding. If your loved one is losing weight and there is no reasonable explanation for it, take a closer look at what happens during mealtimes.
Hydration. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents are dehydrated. Older people are particularly susceptible to bladder and kidney infections; a lack of hydration can put them at higher risk for these medical conditions. If your loved one shows signs of dehydration, talk with the nursing home staff and set up a schedule to document her liquid intake.
Social interaction. A resident who has mobility issues should not be left alone for hours just because staff members are busy. Care professionals must not neglect engaging residents. Social interaction is the key to preventing cognitive decline among the elderly.
Physical activity. Lying in bed all day can cause a resident to develop medical issues. Neglect occurs when care professionals fail to tend properly to residents. Bedridden residents who are not turned regularly may develop bedsores.
Skin care. If you check your loved one’s skin, you can determine a great deal about the quality of care at the nursing home. Healthy, well-hydrated skin is evidence of proper nutrition, hydration, and cleanliness.
The nursing home should provide appropriate care for problems like skin redness. If the resident develops bedsores (pressure ulcers), the facility should implement a plan to prevent future bedsores and provide medical care for the existing sores. Any wounds must be tended to immediately. Residents with diabetes are especially vulnerable. They may have to undergo amputation surgeries for wounds that do not heal properly.
Talk with the facility and contact the authorities if you suspect neglect or abuse of a loved one in a nursing home. Depending on the facts of your case, you might be able to take legal action by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Call us at 404-474-0804 today to set up a free, no-obligation review of your case.