Protecting Loved Ones from Nursing Home Abuse
There are more than 15,000 nursing homes in the United States, and there are 284 in Kentucky alone. And according to a 2018 Lexington Herald Leader report, 43% of the nursing facilities in Kentucky received ratings of “below average” or “much below average” by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last year. These ratings were given because of serious problems discovered with the quality of care provided, and this was among the worst collective ratings for nursing homes in the entire country.
The major reason that is commonly cited for the problems found in nursing homes is staffing. Aging demographics have vastly increased the number of nursing facility residents in recent years, and many of these facilities do not have an adequate amount of staff to deliver the quality of care residents deserve. Understaffing results in many cases of negligence, and it can also result in poor hiring decisions and staff that abuse their patients.
A CNN investigation that was published in 2017 found that more than 1,000 nursing homes throughout the country were cited by the federal government between 2013 and 2016 for failing to prevent sexual abuse in their facilities. This is the most egregious form of abuse that could be perpetrated on our honored elders, and it is an outrage that so little is being done to stop this from happening. This is why is so important to hold these facilities fully accountable for allowing this type of behavior to occur. Otherwise, they will not take the steps necessary to effectively address this widespread problem.
How to Protect your Loved Ones from Nursing Home Abuse
You may think that abuse would never happen to your aging loved one, but unfortunately, the sheer number of incidents that occur in nursing facilities makes it impossible to feel totally secure about this. If you have an elderly family member who is in a Kentucky nursing home, you need to be proactive and stay as involved in their care as possible to help ensure that everything is okay.
Here are some of the most important steps to take to keep your loved one protected from nursing home abuse:
Show Up Often
A nursing facility resident who has infrequent visitors is at higher risk of becoming a victim of neglect or abuse. But when a resident has family members and friends who show up often, the resident’s caregivers tend to make an extra effort to provide quality care. Set up a regular visiting schedule, hopefully with the participation of other people in your family, to help ensure that there are people visiting your loved one on a regular basis. In addition to your regular visiting schedule, throw in some “surprise” visits just to see if there are any inconsistencies with how your loved one is being treated when the staff is not expecting you.
Get to Know Your Loved One’s Caregivers
Make it a point to get to know the people who are caring for your loved one and set up meetings with them regularly. Let them know that you are very concerned about the level of care your loved one is receiving and communicate your expectations to the facility directors and staff. This level of engagement will show that you are committed to looking after your loved one, and that you expect them to receive quality care.
Recognize the Indicators of Neglect and Abuse
Pay very close attention to the conditions your loved one is living in and look for any signs that something may be wrong. Some possible signs of neglect or abuse include:
- Unsanitary living conditions;
- Poor personal hygiene;
- Unexplained injuries;
- Medical needs that are unattended;
- Malnutrition and dehydration;
- Unusual behaviors, such as abnormal withdrawal from social activities.
Take detailed notes of what you observe with each visit and take multiple photos during your visits as well.
Consider Using a Hidden Camera
If you suspect that something is wrong and your loved one might be subjected to abuse when you are not there, you need to find out for sure as quickly as possible. One way to do this is to install a hidden camera discreetly in your loved one’s room. This is allowed in Kentucky as long as you have your loved one’s consent, or if they are unable to consent, you can consent for them.
Take Action Immediately to Stop Abuse
Whether you decided to obtain video evidence or not, if you are pretty sure that your loved one is being abused at a Kentucky nursing home, you need to take swift action to put a stop to it and get your loved one out of danger. You can report abuse to the Adult Protection Branch of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services by calling 1-800-752-6200. Once you’ve reported abuse to the state, contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to talk about the legal aspects of the case.
If you are in the Louisville, LaGrange, Shepherdsville or Shelbyville, KY areas, call John H. Ruby and Associates at 502-895-2626 or message us online to schedule an appointment. We will meet with you to discuss your loved one’s situation, your legal rights and options, and the next steps that should be taken to help ensure that those responsible (for the abuse) are held fully accountable.