Why Does Abuse and Neglect Happen in Nursing Homes?
More often than not, abuse and neglect in nursing homes is a result of purposeful decisions made by the companies that own the nursing homes. These decisions, which are oftentimes made in order to increase the profitability of the companies that own and manage the nursing homes, result in the nursing homes being understaffed and poorly managed. There is a lack of oversight by the companies that own and manage the individual nursing homes, which creates the perfect environment for neglect and abuse to occur.
Signs of Poorly Managed Nursing Homes
Staffing is the largest single expense in a nursing home. As such, that is the line item expense that gets cut the most by corporate when trying to increase their profitability. This leads to understaffing.
Understaffing-not enough aides and/or staff to be able to meet the needs of the residents.
An adequate number of skilled staff is the single most important factor in ensuring good care at a nursing home. Even with the most caring of staff members, they cannot provide adequate care if they do not have the staffing resources needed to do so.
Understaffing Leads to Overworked Staff
- Overworked staff-staff oftentimes are called upon to work double shifts in order to keep a body in the nursing home, multiple days in a row.
- Burned out staff-Understaffing and overworking staff leads to employee burnout. When staff are overworked and burned out, it is not surprising that they cannot provide good care to the residents.
- Underpaid staff-most nursing home staff are underpaid, when you compare their wages to healthcare providers in other types of offices or facilities. Because of the low wages paid to these nursing home employees, there is frequent turnover at all levels of staffing, from the CNAs to the Director of Nursing and Administrator.
Common Forms of Neglect and Abuse as a Result of Poor Management Decisions
- Frequent Falls-Lack of staff results in failure to properly monitor and supervise those who need it, in order to keep them safe from falls. This results in frequent falls, which can lead to injury or death. Falls are the 6th leading cause of death in the elderly in the U.S.
- Falls may result in broken hips, broken neck, broken ribs, other broken bones, subdural hematoma, bleed on the brain.
- Fall prevention interventions include fall mats; beds low to the floor; frequent monitoring and supervision of residents; bed alarms.
Elopement/Wandering Away From Facility-Lack of staff results in failure to properly monitor and supervise those who need it, in order to prevent them from leaving the facility unassisted.
- Wander prevention interventions include a wander guard; supervision and monitoring; alarms on doors.
UTI or other infection-Lack of staff results in failure to keep residents properly cleaned after incontinent episodes; inability to ensure catheters are cleaned properly and timely; no oversight to ensure that floor staff are using proper infection control measures.
Signs/symptoms of UTI or other infection:
- More lethargic; Sleeping more than normal
- Change in mental status
- Behavioral changes, such as:
- Confusion or delirium
- Other unusual behavioral changes
- Blood in urine
- Strong or foul-smelling urine
Pressure sores-Lack of staff results in failure to turn and reposition chair/bed bound residents every 2 hours, as needed to alleviate pressure from their pressure points.
Dehydration/Malnutrition-Lack of staff results in failure to make sure that residents receive the food and hydration they need to maintain acceptable nutritional parameters.
Signs/symptoms of Dehydration/Malnutrition:
- Poor skin turgor
- Pale complexion
- Weight loss
Choking-Lack of staff results in failure to supervise residents at risk of choking while eating; to ensure that residents’ food is properly prepared, i.e. ensure that resident who needs a mechanically soft diet receive that, instead of regular food.
Medication Errors-Understaffed, overworked, don’t take time to ensure residents are receiving the correct dosages of the correct medications at the correct times.
Chemical restraints-Drugging residents for the staff’s convenience-staff are so overworked that they use medications to sedate residents, to make it easier to care for them.
- Resident-on-resident abuse-Failure to supervise residents with known history of aggression/psychosis, allowing them unsupervised access to other residents.
- Staff-on-resident abuse
- Resident-on-resident abuse-Failure to supervise resident with known history of inappropriately touching/molesting/raping other residents
- Staff-on resident abuse
Common Signs of Poor Management and Supervision of the Nursing Home
Nursing home staff have a responsibility to ensure their residents are properly cared for. Some common signs of negligent staff members include:
- Inability to find nursing staff when you need them
- Nursing staff do not come in to check on the resident on a regular basis
- Staff do not respond to the call bell in a timely manner
- Staff cannot answer your questions about your loved one’s care
- Nurses and aides not properly trained
- Nurses and aides not properly supervised
- Frequent staff turnover
- Smell of urine/feces in facility
- Poor personal hygiene or other unattended health problems
If you notice any of these issues happening with your loved one, contact our North Carolina nursing home abuse attorneys immediately. We’ll do everything we can to stop the abuse and ensure your family member gets the care he or she needs.
Steps to Follow After Discovering Nursing Home Abuse
Making the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home or long-term care facility is never easy. But when you discover the facility you trusted to take care of your family member has mistreated, abused, or neglected your loved one, what do you do?
The North Carolina nursing home abuse lawyers at Henson Fuerst suggest taking these steps:
- Seek medical attention.
Take your loved one to a hospital or alternative care facility to be examined as soon as possible. If the nursing staff doesn’t allow you to remove your family member from the facility, contact a North Carolina nursing home abuse attorney at Henson Fuerst immediately.
- Document the abuse.
As soon as you discover your loved one is suffering from abuse or neglect, take pictures of the injuries and room conditions, and write down any witness statements from staff or other residents.
- Re-locate your loved one.
Whenever possible, try and move your loved one to another facility. Choosing another facility may take time, so make sure you have documented and reported the abuse as soon as possible.
- Report the abuse.
If your loved one or other nursing home residents exhibit any signs and symptoms of abuse, report the abuse as soon as possible to government authorities.
- Contact Henson Fuerst.
A North Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer at Henson Fuerst can investigate the details surrounding your case and help ensure the abuse or neglect is put to an end for the entire facility.
Looking for a Long-Term Care Ombudsman?
A long-term care ombudsman is an advocate for residents in elder care facilities, board and care homes and assisted living facilities. An ombudsman is trained to help resolve problems and assist patients or families when filing complaints. All matters are kept confidential unless specified otherwise.
In North Carolina, there are currently 17 offices with long-term ombudsman support throughout the state. Below is a link to the most up to date list for the state of North Carolina.
Click here to view the most up to date list of regional ombudsman offices for the state of North Carolina.
A long-term care ombudsman has multiple benefits, including:
- Resolve complaints made for or by residents of long-term care facilities.
- Educate consumers and long-term care providers about residents rights and good care practices.
- Promote community involvement.
- Provide public information on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities services, residents rights and legislative and policy issues.
Click here to learn more about North Carolina Ombudsman services.
We’ll Fight for Your Loved One
If you are concerned about the treatment your loved one is receiving in a nursing home or long-term care facility, contact a North Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer today at (919) 781-1107 or complete a free initial consultation form.
The legal team at Henson Fuerst has a long history of advocating for the rights of people suffering from mistreatment in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Let us help you and your family member.
When you have Henson Fuerst on your side, you’ll be treated with respect and compassion. A member of our experienced legal team will listen to your concerns and document the details of your case. Our North Carolina nursing home abuse lawyers will research the issues of abuse or neglect and fight to get your loved one the treatment and respect he or she deserves.