Signs of Risk For Neglect at a Nursing Home

March 27, 2020 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Signs of Risk For Neglect at a Nursing Home

Nursing Homes Can Have Several Signs That Indicate They Have a High Risk of Possible Neglect.

With age comes a host of issues that one must one contend with. Most turn to nursing homes to provide the necessary care needed for those too old to manage these issues. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of these care providers that do anything but their namesake. A recent federal investigation revealed that more than 25 percent of serious cases involving the abuse of nursing home residents were not reported to law enforcement agencies. The nursing homes responsible most likely had several warning signs that would have indicated subpar care.

What Should I Look Out For in Nursing Homes?

When choosing an assisted living facility or if you already have a loved one residing in one, keep an eye out for these signs that may mean that there is a risk of neglect or even abuse. Red flags can indicate that an elder care facility may not have the resources they need to properly take care of their residents and in more extreme situations can indicate environments where elder abuse is more likely to occur.

Some Nursing Homes Have an Arbitration Clause

When enlisting the care of an assisted living facility, there is typically some form of contract required. Sometimes these contracts have what is called an arbitration clause that empowers the care provider to have arbitration done by a neutral third party in place of a lawsuit in the event that there is a problem like neglect or abuse. Our experienced lawyers urge you to review your contracts with care facilities thoroughly and read the fine print. Watch out for binding agreements. In the event something does happen, you do not want to lose your ability to take legal action.

Care Facilities Sometimes Don't Offer Enough Freedoms to their Residents

Keep an eye out for how isolated a nursing home keeps its residents. Look out for how much they allow residents to roam and interact with each other. Studies have found that out of 65 nursing home residents interviewed, roughly half felt depressed due to a lack of independence and freedom, as well as loneliness. The interviewees also seemed to prefer homes that had programs designed to reduce their sense of isolation from others. Ideal nursing homes will have groups of residents interacting and participating in activities together. Preferably they will allow this with as few restrictions as possible.

Nursing Homes Must Provide for Nutritional Needs

One of the essentials of care for the elderly is a proper diet. It would seem an obvious requirement of care yet there have been a series of reports of improper nutritional care. Always ask to see the care facility's meal calendar and how and where they prepare the meals. The food provided must not only be the proper supplements of nourishment but also be reasonably varied to avoid monotony. There have been cases of nursing homes serving the rough equivalent of prison quality meals to residents with specific dietary needs. Underweight residents are typically a red flag that you should suspect a nursing home of neglect. In 2015, a survey from Nursing Older People found that nursing home residents have higher rates of “anorexia of aging”. They also found that over half of residents complain of constipation so make sure that your nursing home has plans to combat these conditions.

Homes Have a Large Portion of Temporary Nurses

Some nursing homes will only have a very small portion of permanent nurses and use a constant stream of nurses provided by an agency. For the most part, these nurses will not be working at the home long enough to form any kind of actual bond with the residents. This can prove to be an issue when it comes to residents feeling isolated due to a lack of human interaction.  Always ask how many agencies provided nurses to work on the staff in comparison to permanent ones. It's best to have at least 70% be permanent caregivers. Keep an eye out for high turnover rates at facilities and if possible talk to the staff about the current staffing situation to get a better picture. Don't take chances with who you entrust the care of a loved one with. 

Nursing Homes May Ask You To Enlist Extra Aid

Occasionally a nursing home may tell you that you should enlist extra care for a resident who they have been trusted to care for. This should be a red flag since they should be able to tend to all resident's needs themselves. Nursing homes should be able to provide all of the necessary help an elderly loved one needs. This red flag is a massive indicator of a growing issue across many nursing homes which is understaffing.

Understaffing is a Problem

It is important that any assisted living facility has the proper ratio of caregivers to residents. Understaffed homes have actually become one of the largest issues facing the assisted living industry today. Up to 95% of nursing homes can be understaffed. This is in some part due to difficulty finding staff. A much more sinister reason is that certain nursing homes purposefully understaff themselves in order to save money. By understaffing, the risk of neglect grows drastically. Without enough caregivers to give the proper amount of attention then residents are more likely to suffer. Without an appropriate amount of staff, residents of nursing homes can suffer from malnutrition, dehydration, injury do to lack of supervision, and isolation that causes damage to mental health. 

Activity Itineraries are Indicators of a Nursing Home's Competence

Residents need regular activities to keep their minds sharp and their bodies from growing too frail. Not only should the activities be regularly scheduled but they should also have a variety to them that will keep a resident's time being cared for from becoming monotonous torture. While neglecting to keep residents entertained is not necessarily a crime, it does contribute to the development of depression and exacerbates any already existing mental conditions. Depression is a major issue that faces residents of nursing homes which can only be exacerbated by monotony. The late stages of life increasingly require more and more engagement of the mind with activity. The opposite can often prove as damaging as activity can prove helpful for things such as dementia or memory loss. 

Nursing Homes Do Not Always Offer Privacy

A great deal of nursing home rooms are shared between two residents. However, that doesn't mean that there shouldn't be some semblance of privacy. Everyone deserves some semblance of privacy; especially elders that can be especially vulnerable in their advanced age. A nursing home is not a hospital where someone is temporarily sharing a room with another patient. It is supposed to be a home that naturally comes with the expectation of some semblance of privacy.  Make sure that the only thing separating residents from sharing a room is not a thin cloth curtain. It's best to have at least some kind of substantial divider between residents as privacy should be a right afforded to anyone regardless of age or condition. Some nursing homes lump several residents into one room with not even a curtain to separate them. If You or a loved one have been subjected to abuse or neglect at the hands of an assisted living facility or nursing home then do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. Our experienced Florida nursing home abuse lawyers have a long history of assisting victims of nursing home abuse and neglect to hold the guilty parties responsible. Please feel free to contact us with any questions. You can reach us in one of these 3 ways:
  • Call Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at (727) 451-6900
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Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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