Do nursing homes have a legal obligation to keep their seniors healthy?
Nursing homes are typically places that care for elderly people when they begin to have trouble taking care of themselves. But what happens when the staff doesn’t take care of your elderly relative and instead neglects them? How can you be certain that your nursing home is safe for your family member? A lot of this comes with investigation and word of mouth. It’s important to know what to expect from nursing homes before a family member enters into one. What kind of care can you expect for your parent, and how can you ensure that they’re happy and healthy?
As many as 5,000,000 elders are abused every year. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 27.4% of elder abuse cases include physical abuse while 19.4% of cases include psychological abuse of any kind. Other types of abuse include sexual abuse and medical neglect. A study in 2009 found that 50% of people with dementia experienced some kind of abuse, in and out of nursing homes. Knowing that these kinds of elder abuse cases exist, what do nursing homes do to keep their seniors safe?
What is Duty of Care?
Duty of Care is a term used by doctors to explain their duty to care for patients to a certain extent. It means to always act in the best interest of individuals and others and to not purposefully put anyone in harm’s way.
In a nursing home, it refers to the level of responsibility that they accept when bringing in new residents. They are required to provide a level of reasonable care to the residents as well as a safe environment. This can include keeping them safe from illness as well as elder abuse. In many elder abuse cases, it can be tough to decide what the baseline for “reasonable care” actually is, but it must be proven that the nursing home acted without the resident’s best interest in mind, resulting in either injury, major sickness, or death.
This duty of care also refers to the nursing home’s healthcare system. If there’s sickness going around, the facility has the responsibility to keep it contained to prevent further spread of the illness. If someone were to die from a preventable illness because the nursing home didn’t take it seriously, the nursing home could be liable.
Top Safety Concerns for Seniors in Nursing Homes
One of the leading causes of injury in a nursing home is trips and falls. Nursing homes should account for this and do everything in their power to make the facility safer for those who may be more prone to falling down. This can include encouraging the residents to be more active, ensuring floors are carpeted and area rugs are taped down, having good lighting, and using rubber mats, grab bars, or shower seats in bathtubs.
Another leading cause of abuse is medication errors. Because there are many residents on many different medications, sometimes there can be errors in dosage or medication type. Mainly, abuse in nursing homes can arise from neglect, or an error or accident performed by the staff. Nursing homes are required to provide a happy and healthy place for their seniors, and if their duty of care is breached, they could be liable for an accident or fatality.
How to Keep Seniors Safe and Happy
A senior should be happy in their nursing home, which means that they definitely shouldn’t be experiencing any type of abuse or neglect. When looking for a nursing home to move your family member into, you’ll want to see how other elderly people are enjoying their stay. Most importantly, you’ll want to look for a nursing home that can maintain their health care. Some nursing homes may not be properly equipped for every type of medical issue, so you’ll want to find one that works for your parent or other relative. Medical malpractice or neglect can also occur in nursing homes, so it’s good to do your research first.
When shopping around for nursing homes, you’ll want to ask many questions. An important one to ask refers to how they deal with outbreaks of illness, like a cold or the flu.
What Healthcare do Seniors Receive in a Nursing Home?
The type of care provided will depend on the nursing home that you choose, but many will include things like the monitoring of medication, personal care (like dressing, bathing, and toilet assistance), 24-hour emergency care, and activities for your senior to participate in.
One thing that many don’t think about, that’s important especially in this time, is how they would respond to an outbreak of an illness. You’ll want to ask what their procedures are, especially if a shelter-in-place or stay at home order is put in place. Will nursing home residents be confined to their rooms? How will they socialize? What exact responsibilities will be taken to ensure their safety?
How to Spot Nursing Home Neglect
If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you’ll want to check in on them as much as possible to make sure that they’re receiving a high level of care. It’s important to ask questions and investigate further if anything seems off. After all, you know your family better than anyone else, and if something seems wrong, it’s okay to ask questions. Changes in personality, undocumented injuries, and malnutrition are all ways to spot nursing home neglect.
Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
These types of cases can be tricky, as you can occasionally have to argue against the word of a trusted healthcare professional. Thankfully, Eberst Law’s talented lawyers have experience with elder abuse cases and can help you get the compensation your family deserves. If someone you love has been abused in a nursing home, please contact one of our experienced attorneys at Eberst Law. You can contact us online or at 772-225-4900 for more information.