This past spring, in order to quell the COVID-19 devastation in nursing homes, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued health and safety guidelines.
Among them were strict limitations on in-person visitations, with states having the final word. Initially, phone calls, videoconferencing, FaceTiming/Skyping, and letters were typically the only forms of permissible contact. Options eventually expanded to “window visits” and socially distanced outdoor visits at some nursing homes.
Identifying Nursing Home Abuse During The Pandemic Is Difficult, But Not Impossible
In-person family member visitations have always been a bulwark against nursing home abuse/neglect, but COVID-19 has temporarily sidelined or interrupted that line of defense. Though COVID-19 has muddied the waters, vigilant family members may still be able to detect signs of abuse through the above-mentioned means of communication.
Be alert for signs of abuse/neglect, such as if your loved one
- withdraws from family or friends.
- doesn’t respond to questions about theircare.
- expresses fear of nursing home staff.
- exhibits drastic behavioral changes.
- displays unexplained weight loss, poor personal hygiene, or other changes in physical appearance.
In addition, if the nursing home restricts your access to speak with your loved one or won’t permit private conversations, consider it a potential red flag.
In September, the CMS issued guidelines for indoor visits if protocols are followed and certain criteria are met, having recognized the emotional and mental-health toll of resident isolation. However, not all states or regions will be able to meet the criteria, which means visitations will continue to be hindered.
Protect Your Loved Ones With Help From Protect Services And A Nursing Home Attorney
COVID-19 has made life difficult on many fronts. If you suspect your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse/neglect, report it to state protective services and contact our office to protect their rights or call us at (404) 474-0804.