With a record high 1.5 million residents living in nursing homes and the baby boomer generation aging quickly, there is a concern that while more and more people join this system will the infrastructure of these facilities and limited resource allocation result in more resident abuse.
A recent study found that 44% of nursing home residents have suffered some form of abuse. Additionally, that same study reported that 48% of nursing home residents have reported having been treated or handled roughly. While an additional 38% have reported having witnessed abuse of others.
As all of us have, or will have, family members reaching the age where assisted living facilities or even nursing homes will have to be considered, this article is devoted to the 7 Warning Signs that might show that your seemingly friendly neighborhood nursing home may be abusing or neglecting their residents. Understand that these warning signs might be very subtle in your particular nursing home. But, if any of these warning signs are present, even a little, it is worth it to put yourself on high alert.
It is imperative that you start paying greater attention to what is going on. Ask lots of questions, and by all means, don't simply assume that everything is fine.
WARNING SIGN #1: PERSONAL HYGIENE
If you notice that residents seem not to be clean, or as clean, as in the past. It can mean the staff has been cut back. It can mean that management is trying to cut corners and save money by not hiring qualified and conscience staff, or is simply refusing to hire sufficient staff.
If personal hygiene issues are apparent to you, the greater concern is what you did not see. If you have noticed this, start asking questions both of your loved one as well as staff and management.
WARNING SIGN #2: UNCLEAN CONDITION IN THE FACILITY
Just like as above, if the facility is not objectively clean, or suddenly seems less clean, that can be a very concerning warning sign of other issues, namely neglect and abuse.
WARNING SIGN #3: INFECTIONS
Some infections are going to naturally occur, even with good nursing habits. But if infections are persistent in the particular nursing home, it's a big red flag.
WARNING SIGN #4: DEHYDRATION
With this one, there is no maybe's about it. Your loved one becoming periodically dehydrated is a classic sign of nursing home neglect. In the absence of the most extreme circumstances, any resident found to be dehydrated is an example of clear nursing home neglect.
WARNING SIGN #5: MALNUTRITION
If your loved one suddenly looks thinner, or if you notice quick weight loss, you could be looking at a very serious example of nursing home neglect.
WARNING SIGN #6: BED SORES
These are sometimes referred to as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers. This is a very serious and often deadly effect of the body's breakdown of skin. Bed sores are nearly always the by-product of neglectful nursing. Immobile patients or even "less mobile" patients, diabetics, patients with neuropathy, renal compromise, or poor nutrition are all at high risk of developing bed sores if nurses are not diligent. Bed sores are a classic sign of abuse.
WARNING SIGN #7: POOR ACCESS TO MEDICAL SERVICES
Nursing homes are supposed to be facilities that afford residents uncompromising quality medical services. However, if you are noticing that your loved one's nursing home seems to suddenly have poor access to medical services, you may need to be concerned. If matters that used to be addressed by a physician are now being addressed by non-medical staff this is likely further evidence that management is cutting back at the expense of your loved one.
Doctor access in a nursing home should never be a line-item to which management cuts back. When they do, patient neglect is nearly always the by-product.
At Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn L.L.C. we fight for the rights of the neglected and abused in nursing homes. We have a strong history of success in this area because we leave no stone unturned. Over the years we have found the above warning signs to be a useful guide. Please, if you are noticing any of these signs at your loved one's nursing facility, don't hesitate to give us a call so that we can explore what is really going on and help protect your loved one.