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Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

Like many millions of Americans, you or your family may have been confronted with the difficult decision of placing a loved one in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility during their golden years. Despite a facility’s promises to take care of a family’s loved one, many times that promise is broken. Often, the nursing home workers are under-paid, overworked and poorly trained. Compounding the problem are corporate owners who cut corners with staff, training and supplies, placing profits over the well-being of the resident. Unfortunately some of the worst abuse and neglect can occur in facilities that on the surface appear to be clean and well-managed. Long-term abuse and neglect can remain hidden even with repeated visits to the facility.

It is important to be on the lookout for signs of abuse and neglect such as: bedsores, broken bones, poor hygiene, foul-smelling odors, unexplained injuries, malnutrition, dehydration, unexpected death, over-medication and falls. There can also be psychological signs of abuse or neglect such as: withdrawn behavior, repetitive rocking or swaying, thumb-sucking, increased agitation and combative or violent behavior.

If you expect a loved one has been abused or neglected:

Five things to do

  1. Contact a trusted family physician not associated with the facility to visit the resident.
  2. File a complaint with the facility administrator and schedule a care plan meeting with the staff.
  3. Document everything with photographs and notes recording important dates, who you spoke with and what was witnessed, and the names and addresses of staff, other residents or other visitors to the facility that may be sympathetic to your situation or who may have witnessed abuse or neglect.
  4. Ensure your loved one either receives proper medical care at the facility to address their needs or have them transferred to a facility or hospital that is willing to offer that care.
  5. Report the abuse or neglect to the Agency for Healthcare Administration at 1-888-419-3456 or the Florida Ombudsman Program at 1-888-831-0404.

Five things not to do

  1. Don’t ignore the possible signs and symptoms of abuse.
  2. Don’t be rude or combative (but DO be firm and direct).
  3. Don’t accept explanations or excuses that don’t make sense.
  4. Don’t wait or let time pass before a proper investigation is begun.
  5. Don’t be intimidated. If you need help, contact a qualified attorney to help protect your loved one.