It is hard to admit when you cannot take care of an elderly or disabled member of the family. With work schedules and all of the other demands of life, you realize you’re just not equipped to provide the level of care that’s needed. Once you’ve made the tough decision to seek out a nursing home under the belief it’s what’s best for your parent or other loved one, you begin the search.
Most people who are placed into the position of having to research nursing homes and assisted living facilities for personal reasons are very cautious about where they send a family member to live. You cannot be present ‘round the clock to ensure proper care and attention is being given. That’s the primary reason you’ve sought out this type of arrangement. What some people may not realize is that your loved one may be getting a very different type of attention in the form of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Recognizing nursing home abuse and neglect
If you have concerns and unease about leaving your family member to live with strangers, your loved one will likely have even deeper anxiety over the idea. That said, you know his or her behavior better than anyone else and you can tell the difference between edginess over a new situation versus when something is really wrong.
Abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological, or simply failing to provide the proper level of basic care. Often, your loved one won’t tell you what’s happening out of fear of retribution after you leave so you’ll need to carefully and quietly play detective to get to the bottom of things for their safety.
Look for physical evidence such as:
- Bruising, scrapes or cuts inconsistent with what you’ve witnessed in the past prior to entering the care facility
- Bandages that may be hiding injuries or are for injuries that seem suspicious
- Unusual marks on the body that might have been inflicted by biting, or a belt, cord, or other object
- Burns, particularly if your family member does not have personal small appliances or other heat sources available
- Missing hair or the sudden appearance of bald spots without any plausible explanation such as a side effect to new medication or a medical procedure
- Sudden limping or being unable to raise an arm or use a hand without discomfort, or at all
- Torn or blood stained clothing, including undergarments that may signal a struggle or use of force
Pay attention to behaviors like:
- Depression or withdrawal inconsistent with their mental health prior to entering the care facility
- Worsening or new anxiety, agitation, or aggression that can’t be explained by medication
- A fearful or very reserved reaction when a particular staff member is near
- Attempts to escape from the nursing home, whether or not dementia is at play
- A sudden aversion to being touched, even if it’s just being hugged by you
- Wanting to sleep with the lights on
- Nervous speech such as stuttering or stammering, especially when staff are present
- Restless or disturbing behaviors that have developed such as rocking or head-banging
Observations that are tell-tale signs of neglect include:
- The presence of body odors, bedsores, rashes, lice, or scabies will indicate a lack of basic daily care
- Weight loss may signal that food is being withheld.
- Insect bites may be a sign that the facility isn’t being kept up
- Symptoms of illness that appear to be untreated may also scream that medical malpractice is occurring
- Unsuitable clothing or bedding for cold or hot climate conditions
- Decreased mobility or range of motion due to a failure to provide opportunities to be active
Speaking with staff will help you choose a direction
Once you believe that you’ve gathered enough information that warrants further action, you should speak with the medical staff. This will put them on notice that you’re paying attention to what’s going on in the facility and to your loved one. They’ll know they’re not flying under the radar any longer and that changes need to be made.
Compare the answers you get from:
- Social workers
- Janitorial staff
If answers seem coached, incomplete, or unsatisfactory in any way, you need to go with your gut instinct to protect your family member. Whether you choose to file a complaint first or seek legal help is up to you.
How do I report my nursing home to the State of Georgia for abuse?
Reporting a nursing home in Georgia is done through the Georgia Department of Community Health. The Division of Healthcare Facility Regulation takes complaints online for any facility they license. You may also make a complaint by calling their intake line at 1-800-878-6442.
If the problem is with an individual nurse you believe to be abusive or otherwise neglectful of the vulnerable adult they’ve been charged with caring for, you also have the option of filing a complaint with the Georgia Board of Nursing through the Secretary of State. You are also able to view the list of names of nurses in the state who have had disciplinary action taken against them. However, keep in mind that just because a nurse doesn’t appear on this list does not mean there isn’t a problem that needs to be swiftly addressed.
To learn how you can protect your loved one who was harmed while in the hands of those entrusted to provide crucial care, schedule your free case evaluation with the aggressive Georgia nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP now. Call our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847, our Savannah office at 912-417-3774, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page to tell us your story.
Jed Manton is committed to representing individuals and business that have been harmed by the actions of others. With a solid track record, Jed has helped numerous clients who have been seriously injured or who have lost a loved one obtain justice, while holding the wrongdoer accountable.
Read more about Jed D. Manton here.