In March of this year the federal government fined New Jersey’s Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation $600,000 after a virus outbreak in the facility caused the deaths of 11 children. Nursing home neglect is more prevalent than many Americans think, and with 1.6 million Americans in 18,000 nursing homes, both are of grave concern to anyone who has a loved one in a long term care facility.
Is Neglect Abuse?
Neglect is a breach of duty which can result in poor or substandard care of a patient. It can be intentional or a result of insufficient training, lack of funds or poor oversight. Abuse is the act of intentionally harming an individual. Both can be deadly.
When a person in a nursing home consistently receives substandard care they can be physically, mentally or emotionally harmed. Young people with serious health problems and senior citizens — the two demographics that make up the majority of Americans in nursing homes — often feel powerless, and may be unable to stand up for themselves or tell anyone that they are being harmed. This is why it is critical to be hyper-observant of both the patient and the nursing home.
The Warning Signs
If you have a loved one in a nursing home, be on the lookout for these six signs of neglect:
1. Poor personal hygiene, especially if it takes a sharp turn for the worse
2. Unsanitary living conditions in their room or in public areas
3. Weakness and fatigue
4. Loss of mobility, especially if they were previously active
5. Bruises and other injuries
6. Depression, anxiety, and other psychological issues
Protect Your Loved Ones
The best way to protect your loved ones against neglect is to thoroughly vet any facility you are considering. Ask about employee background checks, caregiver to patient ratios, safety protocols, reported incidents per patient, range and types of activities and the presence of a doctor and/or a registered nurse. The AARP has some excellent suggestions to help you do a thorough inspection.
Once you have selected a nursing home, get to know the employees involved in your loved one’s care, as well as the nursing director, nurses and care managers. The knowledge that a family member or members are actively watching out for their loved one may mitigate the risk of neglect.
Be sure to visit often and at varying times. In this way, you’ll be able to assess the situation and react quickly if you see anything amiss. Always report any concerns verbally and follow up in email to the primary care manager or facility director.
Do not hesitate to file a complaint if you are concerned. You can do so, even if you do not want to provide your name on the New Jersey Department of Health Website.
April 8, 2019
Practice Area Center: Personal Injury
Practice Area Category: Nursing Home Abuse