What You Need to Know Legally About Nursing Home Neglect

Disclaimer: The information presented below tells you information that you need to know about nursing home neglect and isn’t meant to serve as legal advice. If your elderly parent or relative has experienced neglect anytime during their entire stay in a nursing home, you would have to consult a personal injury lawyer such as stromlawyers.com as soon as possible.

As much as you want to become hands-on in taking care of your parent or relative who isn’t working anymore due to old age, you might have found yourself pressed for time to do it. After all, you have your own life to live and family to raise too. So you decided to send your elderly parent or relative to a nursing home where they’re supposed to be taken care of by trained personnel. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes exist with elderly persons’ best interests in mind. This is also why it is important to shop around and ask the people in the nursing home to see if anything has happened. Places like Assured Assisted Living run a multitude of checks to ensure things are done right. However, if an old parent or relative that you brought to a nursing home has suffered neglect in the hands of any of its staff, here’s what you need to know legally:

  1. Nursing home neglect is different from nursing home abuse.

Although most people tend to interchange the terms “neglect” and “abuse,” those two words are completely different in a legal sense.

  • If your elderly parent or relative has experienced abuse during their stay in some nursing home, it means that any of its staff or management have intentionally harmed them.
  • On the other hand, if your elderly parent or relative has suffered neglect while inside a nursing home, it means that any of its staff or management has either failed to give or provided substandard care to them.
  1. There are four primary types of neglect inside a nursing home that any of its staff may be committing to your elderly parent or relative.

While the specifics may vary according to how exactly your elderly parent or relative had suffered while inside a nursing home, they may have been themselves subjected to any of the following primary types of nursing home neglect:

  • Emotional neglect wherein a nursing home’s staff had repeatedly ignored or lashed out at your elderly parent or relative
  • Personal hygiene neglect wherein the nursing home doesn’t provide adequate assistance when it’s time for your elderly parent or relative to take a bath, brush their teeth, send their clothes to the laundry room, clean up after themselves, and other hygiene practices
  • Basic needs neglect wherein the nursing home doesn’t have enough water or food as well as a safe environment for your elderly parent or relative to live
  • Medical neglect wherein the nursing home fails to address any health concerns – especially age-related ones – that your elderly parent or relative may have during their entire stay there.
  1. Most cases of nursing home neglect often go unreported. The 2010 Elder Justice Act aims to change that.

According to a recently published report by the American Association of Retired Persons or AARP, 28% of incidents of nursing home neglect don’t get reported at all to the proper authorities.

  • Your elderly parent or relative might not be reporting cases of neglect that they or a fellow resident had experienced while inside a nursing home either because they’re not physically capable anymore of doing so or anyone working in the nursing home itself is threatening them with punitive action if they decide to call the cops.
  • Under federal law, particularly the Elder Justice Act that was signed back in 2010, anyone involved in the nursing home industry has to report any instance that they believe falls under neglect to both the United States Department of Health Services – or DHHS – and local law enforcement agencies within 24 hours.
  • However, a nursing home employee, manager or owner has to report an instance of neglect within only two hours at most if the elderly resident had sustained serious physical injuries as a result.
  • An employee, manager or owner of a nursing home who had failed to report any sign of neglect despite having seen one performed on any of its elderly residents may face steep penalties of up to $300,000 depending on the extent of harm done to the victim.
  1. A nursing home may be liable under civil but not criminal law depending on the extent of neglect done to any of its elderly residents.

If the nursing home where you’ve brought your elderly parent or relative is participating under federal health coverage programs like Medicare and Medicaid, the said facility has to comply with the regulations written in the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act. Failure to do so can result in a nursing home being forced to pay steep fines, have its elderly residents transferred to a better facility, and even replaced with new management.

Some older adults are hesitant to move to a nursing home. One compelling reason why they feel that way is their fear that they might experience neglect once they become admitted there. It’s not entirely unfounded as according to the Nursing Home Abuse Center, 95% of older adults who are residents of nursing homes suffer neglect. If your elderly parent or relative is currently a part of that alarming statistic, you should read the above-listed things that you need to know legally about nursing home neglect and take action with the help of an attorney who specializes in cases like yours. Also, when choosing a facility or care service for your elders, be sure that you find enough information about the places you consider. Explore the options you have, instead of sticking to nursing homes or senior living facilities. If your elder parent or relative can communicate their needs to you, talk to them about the kind of care they would prefer. Some older adults may not be ready to move to an unfamiliar place and so, choose to stay in their homes. In such a case, you could always explore options such as in-home care from providers like Care For Family (https://careforfamily.com.au/). They should be able to provide comfortable and compassionate in-home care for elders. After all, you want your elderly parent or relative to spend the remaining days of their lives in peace.

Irene Wall

Irene Wall has been writing about law for more than a decade. She writes pieces on various law topics that she hopes could help the common reader with their concerns. She enjoys playing basketball with her sons during her free time