Many families entrust nursing homes and other long-term care facilities with the care of elderly parents and relatives when they require more supervision and care than the family can provide. More than 400,000 people reside in licensed long-term care facilities in California, according to the California Association of Health Facilities.
Unfortunately, some nursing homes fail to deliver the quality care they should provide. Some nursing home residents suffer abuse and neglect at the hands of their caregivers. If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, you can take steps to protect them and hold the negligent parties accountable.
At Sam & Ash, our Newport Beach nursing home abuse attorneys have the courage and the resources to stand up for your loved one’s rights. Call us today at (877) 658-9951 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help in a free initial consultation.
What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse occurs when a nursing home facility, staff member, or resident mistreats or disregards the needs of a resident and causes them harm as a result. Nursing home abuse can leave residents with physical injuries, emotional trauma, and potentially life-threatening health complications.
Not all nursing home abuse is intentional. Many long-term care facilities suffer from high staff turnover rates. A lack of adequate staffing at a nursing home frequently leads to a burned-out, poorly trained, and overextended workforce. Nursing home residents are significantly more likely to suffer from neglect when staff members lack the resources, or training needed to provide proper care.
Understaffing can lead to frustration and resentment among staff. Some caregivers may take out their frustrations on residents. Common forms of intentional nursing home abuse include financial exploitation, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse.
Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
The following statistics shed light on the most common risk factors and consequences of nursing home abuse and neglect:
- The National Council on Aging (NCOA) estimates that up to five million people, many of whom are nursing home residents, suffer from elder abuse each year.
- Seniors who are victims of financial abuse have an estimated annual loss of at least $36.5 billion, according to the NCOA.
- The Center for Victim Research (CVR) says that one in 10 community-residing elders are victims of some type of abuse each year, with many cases going unreported.
- The center also reports that the most prevalent types of elder abuse are psychological abuse, financial abuse, and neglect.
- Other risk factors that increase the likelihood of nursing home abuse include a lower socioeconomic status, a history of trauma, and poor physical or psychological health.
- One study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that nearly 64 percent of all nursing home staff members admitted to engaging in some type of abusive or neglectful behavior.
What Are the Types of Abuse in Nursing Homes?
There are many different forms of nursing home abuse. Some are much harder to spot than others. Five of the most common types of abuse that can occur in American nursing homes are:
- Physical abuse – Physical abuse occurs when a nursing home staff member or resident inflicts physical harm on another resident. This can include striking, kicking, or shaking a resident or restraining the resident against their will.
- Neglect – Nursing home neglect occurs when staff members fail or refuse to provide a resident with basic care or necessities. This can include withholding food, neglecting medical needs, failing to turn a bedridden patient regularly to prevent bedsores, or failing to uphold minimum hygiene standards.
- Emotional abuse – Emotional nursing home abuse occurs when someone uses verbal or non-verbal attacks to harm a resident psychologically. Common examples include intimidation, bullying, threats, humiliation, and isolation.
- Financial exploitation – Financial abuse occurs when staff or residents exploit a resident’s financial assets or possessions. This can include identity theft, stealing a resident’s valuables, making purchases with a resident’s money, or using undue influence to gain access to a resident’s financial accounts.
- Sexual abuse – Sexual abuse occurs when a resident is exposed to unwanted sexual advances or contact. Sexual abuse is the least common type of abuse reported in nursing homes.
What Are the Warning Signs of Elder Abuse?
Being familiar with the warning signs of elder abuse is extremely important if you have a relative in a long-term care facility. Some types of abuse are more difficult to spot than others.
Signs of possible nursing home abuse and neglect include:
- Unexpected or unexplained injuries, such as infections, bruises, lacerations, bone fractures, dislocations
- Bedsores, or pressure ulcers
- Sudden weight loss or signs of malnourishment or dehydration
- Lack of hygiene and soiled clothing or linens
- Sudden fatigue, insomnia, or other sleep troubles
- Anxiety, depression, or self-esteem issues
- Sudden increase in fearful behavior, agitation, or emotional withdrawal
- Difficulty speaking or communicating, especially when caregivers are present
- Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or injuries around the anus or genitals
- Unusual financial transactions, unexplained addition of names to financial accounts, or changes to power of attorney documents
- Missing valuables
How To Report Nursing Home Abuse
If you suspect someone you love may be suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect in Newport Beach, you should first report your concerns to the nursing home supervisor. If the nursing home administrator or manager cannot address your concerns to your satisfaction, you may need to seek help.
You can take proactive steps to protect your loved one and ensure that he or she is receiving proper care.
Consider the following steps:
- Speak to nursing home administrators – It’s a good idea to raise your concerns directly with nursing home administrators. In some cases, caring administrators may take steps to address your concerns and correct problems. Regardless, the administration’s response to your inquiry can tell you a great deal about the attitude of your loved one’s caregivers.
- Document evidence of abuse – Write down or photograph possible signs of abuse, such as physical injuries and unexpected changes in behavior or health. Keep track of any nursing home practices, policies, or procedures that seem unusual.
- Contact local authorities – If you believe that your loved one may be in immediate danger, you should call 911 to file a police report. This is the quickest way to remove your loved one from imminent danger, get them the medical care they need, and let local authorities know something isn’t right.
- Reach out to medical experts – Doctors and other medical experts can evaluate your loved one’s physical condition to determine whether any injuries or health concerns may be the result of nursing home abuse.
- Contact a Long-Term Care Ombudsman – All states, including California, have Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs to advocate for nursing home residents and investigate possible nursing home abuse. The Ombudsman program is a publicly funded initiative that provides services free of charge.
How To File a Lawsuit for Nursing Home Abuse in California
You may have the right to file a lawsuit and seek financial compensation on behalf of your close relative who has suffered physical injuries or other losses due to nursing home abuse. If your loved one died as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, you may also have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
The process of filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit can be complex. It’s best to have a knowledgeable Orange County personal injury attorney on your side. A lawyer can investigate the circumstances of the nursing home abuse, develop a strong basis for a lawsuit, and pursue fair compensation for your loved one’s losses.
Talk to Our Trustworthy Newport Beach Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Today
If your loved one has suffered injuries or financial exploitation due to nursing home abuse in Orange County, the attorneys at Sam & Ash Injury Law can help you file a lawsuit to seek compensation and hold administrators or staff members accountable. Our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys will fight for you and your loved one because we know you deserve What’s Right.
To take action to protect your loved one, call us at (877) 658-9951 or fill out our online contact form for your free case evaluation. Call today!