When you help a loved one move into a nursing home, you do it for their comfort, safety and health. You want them to have the protection of professionals who understand the safety risks and health needs of older individuals. Especially if your loved one has dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or other age-related medical issues, they may require more care than your family can provide.
Most nursing home facilities will do their best to provide a good standard of care for the residents there, but some fail to meet even the most basic safety and care standards. What can you do to protect your loved one when you suspect neglect or abuse in a nursing home?
Keep records of why you feel concerned
From the first time you notice something suspect, like spotting what you think was a cockroach in the hallway, it will likely be best to maintain detailed written records of each troubling incident at the nursing home. That way, you have information to use when discussing the matter with staff or when pursuing a claim later.
Address it with people at the facility
For most scenarios, the first step in addressing nursing home abuse or neglect will be to bring the matter to the attention of staff members. Often, you may need to ask for a supervisor or manager to resolve the matter.
Any facility that accepts Medicaid or Medicare will have to have a formal complaint procedure in place, and you can make use of that process to hopefully prompt internal changes that better protect your loved one.
Involve state authorities
There are laws regulating the care of older adults and the treatment of vulnerable people. You can notify California authorities to investigate in situations where the abuse is severe or where the facility does not respond to your complaints.
The state can step in to help as well. Concerned family members who want the state to look into a licensed facility can contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program in their area, their local sheriff or the Department of Social Services to draw attention to the situation.
You can move your loved one
Although it can take some time, as many nursing homes are at or near capacity, you may need to secure them a room in a different nursing home facility. Once you have addressed the immediate risk to your loved one, you can then start to explore if you can bring a claim against the nursing home.
Given that many kinds of nursing home abuse and neglect occur because of cost-cutting at these facilities, a financial loss in court might be the most powerful way to compel the facility to change its practices. Taking action when you suspect nursing home abuse can help you protect your loved one when they are at their most vulnerable.