Nursing home abuse and neglect are a common occurrence in Florida nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Examples of abuse in nursing homes can include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, confinement, passive neglect, willful deprivation, and financial exploitation. Nursing home abuse is a felony in Florida and there are certain laws in place to protect the elderly.
When families place their loved ones in the care of a nursing home, they have the expectation that the staff and all those responsible with providing care for their loved one will do so at the highest standard. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes adhere to the high quality of care one would expect.
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According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), approximately 95 percent of all nursing home residents have either been neglected themselves or have witnessed neglect in their communities. In some of the most severe cases, the results of nursing home neglect can be fatal.
Nursing home neglect can be divided into four distinct categories:
- Medical neglect: This category involves the failure of the nursing home to address or prevent a resident’s medical concerns. Many times, medical neglect involves failure to work with the resident on mobility issues, not providing proper diabetic care, or failing to address infections and bedsores.
- Basic need neglect:Another category of nursing home neglect involves the failure of the nursing home to provide the resident with the most basic needs to live, including proper nutrition, water, or a clean and safe environment.
- Personal hygiene neglect:Along those same lines, nursing home staff members are expected to maintain a proper level of hygiene for residents who are unable to do this for themselves. This can include, but is not limited to bathing, dental hygiene, and clean laundry.
- Social and emotional needs neglect: Nursing home residents need to have their social and emotional needs met, as well. If they are abandoned in their rooms, treated unkindly or unfairly, or are not provided with proper social and emotional care, the home could be guilty of this form of neglect.
One of the biggest causes of nursing home neglect has to do with inadequate staffing. According to 2018 federal data, most U.S. nursing homes are vastly understaffed. Without adequate staffing, there is no way that the home can meet all their residents’ needs. Additionally, if the nursing home does not properly vet the candidates hired at their facility, they run the risk of hiring people who will not serve the best interests of their residents. Staff members should also receive proper training to care for their residents’ needs, and when the training is inadequate or fails, neglect can easily result.
Certain signs can raise red flags as to neglect or abuse of a nursing home resident, including:
- Poor hygiene
- Bed Sores
- Unsanitary / unclean conditions
- Sudden weight loss
- Falls, fractures or head injuries
- Reluctance to speak when staff members are present
- Fatigue or irritability
- Agitated, extremely withdrawn or non-communicative
- Unexplained injuries (i.e. – bruises, cuts, etc.)
- Change in mood or emotions shown by the resident
- Unusual or sudden changes in behavior (i.e.- rocking, fear of being touched, etc.)
It is important to be observant when visiting a loved one to check on these signs, as well as others, that may indicate nursing home abuse or neglect. Look around the facility and in the resident’s room. Be aware of changes in appetite and mood, and if you do notice a sudden change, investigate as to what could be causing this change. If your loved one expresses that something has occurred that gives rise to nursing home neglect or abuse, believe them. It is important to act quickly. The abuse or neglect may be affecting multiple residents and failing to report the incident could result in serious injury or a fatality.