CBS News recently reported on a highly disturbing, trend in nursing home abuse. Increasingly, victims are being abused by other residents at the assisted living facility. This is both disheartening and unacceptable. Nursing homes have a legal responsibility to protect their residents from all forms of abuse. Just because the abuse comes at the hands of another resident does not absolve the facility from legal liability. They must still take action to prevent this form of abuse. If you believe that your loved one has been abused by other residents at a South Carolina nursing home, please contact an experienced Charleston nursing home abuse attorney for immediate legal assistance.
One in Five Nursing Home Residents Face Abuse From Other Residents
The CBS report cited a study conducted by the Center for Aging Research and Clinic Care, which is based at Cornell University’s medical school. The study conducted a large scale surveillance project on nursing homes throughout the state of New York. The surveillance was conducted at 10 different facilities and lasted for one month. The 10 nursing homes that were selected were picked because they were consisted of a representative sample of facilities across the state. In all, nearly 2,100 nursing home residents were included in the study. After the month ended, the report found that 20 percent of the included residents had experienced at least one form of serious abuse. The types of abuse that residents faced were wide ranging, specifically, it included:
- Emotional abuse;
- Violence; and
- Sexual misconduct.
Resident on resident abuse in nursing homes has been a long underappreciated problem. The report indicated that this was the first comprehensive study of its kind. With the results, it is obvious that more research must be done. However, when added to early findings from the National Center on Elder Care Abuse that concluded that 95 percent of nursing home abuse and neglect cases go unreported, it also becomes clear that nursing homes must do more to protect residents.
A Nursing Home Should Be a Safe Environment
In South Carolina, nursing homes have a legal duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for their residents. When nursing homes fail to live up to this duty, they can, and should, be held liable. Nursing home operators must institute adequate safety procedures that will ensure that residents are protected from physical or psychological abuse from other residents. Some examples of safety procedures that should be enacted at all nursing home include:
- Ensuring that adequate staff is always on site and that the staff properly trained;
- Regularly conducting active planning sessions in order to discuss resident needs;
- Appropriately monitoring residents at all times;
- Watching for warning signs so that any resident on resident abuse is quickly identified;
- In the event that abuse is suspected, taking action to ensure that the issue is quickly and thoroughly investigated; and
- Taking proactive steps to protect the physical and mental health of all residents.
Nursing home abuse can cause tremendous damage to the victims. An experienced Charleston nursing home abuse lawyer can help victims hold negligent nursing homes accountable. It is important to note that all nursing home residents have many legal rights. None are more important that the right to live in a safe environment, free from any abuse or neglect. Further, under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, residents also have the right to: privacy, dignity, self determination, free communication, the ability to voice grievances and participation in their own care health planning.
Know the Warning Signs
If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, you must act quickly. You need to protect the mental and physical health of your vulnerable loved one. The following is a list of five warning signs of abuse that you should always keep in mind:
- Complaints: If your loved one is complaining about issues of abuse or neglect, you should take their complaints seriously. Even if you suspect that they might be misleading you or misinterpreting the situation. Abuse is simply far too common and you owe it to your loved one to follow up any possible problems.
- Physical changes: If you notice any major physical changes, you should take that as a warning sign that your loved one might not be being property treated. Physical changes that should concern you come in a number of different form, they include: bruising, weight loss, dehydration, bedsores and any other type of unexplained injury.
- Emotional changes: Suffering through abuse or neglect is often incredibly emotionally damaging. If you notice changes in your loved one’s attitude or temperament, it is a good practice to investigate the situation. Specifically, you should watch for: agitation, depression, withdrawnness, avoidance of eye contact, increased anxiety or any other sudden change in personality.
- Issues with particular staff members or residents: The studies have found that in many cases nursing home abuse comes from one particular staff member or a few particular fellow residents. Watch for how your loved one interacts with everyone at the facility. Avoiding certain people may indicate an issue that needs to be examined.
- General bad feelings: Finally, if something feels ‘off’, you must investigate the issue. Nursing home abuse and neglect is notoriously difficult to pinpoint. That partially explains why as many as 95 percent of abuse and neglect cases go unreported. You need to take action to protect your loved one. If you have general bad feelings, trust your instincts and follow up on the issue.
Contact Our Office Today
Nursing home residents are especially vulnerable. They must be always be protected from abuse. This includes abuse from other residents. It is incumbent on the nursing facility to prevent this form of abuse from happening, as the are entrusted with the care of all residents. If your loved one has been abused in a nursing home, whether by the staff or another resident, you need to contact an experienced attorney today. At David Aylor Law Offices, our Charleston, SC nursing home abuse attorneys will fight aggressively to protect the rights and interests of your loved one. Please contact our office today to set up a free evaluation of your case. Our firm serves clients throughout the Lowcountry of South Carolina.