A recent report filed by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) identified a number of Indiana’s nursing homes as being among the worst in the country.
The findings in the Senators’ report were used to compile a nationwide list of troubled nursing homes that have multiple documented instances of substandard and poor care. These homes have now become part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Special Focus Facility Program (SFF).
As expected, those Indiana nursing homes with the worst ratings also saw a higher number of instances of resident abuse and neglect that lead to permanent injuries, malnutrition, and/or death.
Upsetting? Yes. Unacceptable? Yes. Do all of us share a responsibility to help prevent nursing home abuse? Yes. However, before we stop nursing home abuse, we need to know the signs, and they are not always easy to detect.
How to spot uncommon signs of nursing home abuse
Identifying signs of nursing home abuse is the first step toward ensuring our loved ones do not become victims of poor care. Unfortunately, it becomes tricky when the abuse does not necessarily present itself in a physical manner. As such, it can sometimes be largely invisible.
Boulton Law Group has investigated a number of nursing home cases that involved bedsores, broken bones, bruising, etc. These cases are typically brought to our attention by the resident’s family members after they spot obvious, physical signs of abuse.
However, family members and nursing home residents should also be aware of the less common forms of abuse, such as the ones we have encountered below:
One of the more difficult forms of nursing home mistreatment to identify is psychological abuse. In many instances, it occurs verbally.
There are countless stories involving staff who have screamed at, humiliated, threatened, and psychologically assaulted nursing home residents, either on purpose or through sheer ignorance.
Residents may already feel vulnerable regarding their place in a nursing home, and it is imperative that staff and caretakers exhibit special care and patience when communicating with residents.
Because psychological abuse leaves no outer mark(s) on a resident, it is important that family members pay close attention to some of the more common behavioral clues associated with this type of mistreatment, including:
- Your loved one avoids making eye contact with you or nursing home staff.
- Your loved one becomes depressed or displays a pattern of sad behavior.
- Your loved one express feeling of hopelessness or frustration.
- Your loved one’s eating patterns fluctuate or diminish.
- Your loved one’s behavior becomes erratic and unpredictable.
- Your loved one refuses to talk about their experience in the home.
While some think this type of poor care is uncommon, Boulton Law Group has consulted with families throughout Indiana who have called on us to investigate potential cases of psychological abuse in a nursing home.
A growing number of cases involve a resident being financially exploited by nursing home staff. A recent example of financial abuse took place in Chicago, where two staff members were charged with stealing more than $750,000 from a nursing home resident!
The most common forms of financial abuse typically occur through one of the following manners:
- Accessing the resident’s checking and/or savings accounts.
- Illegal use of a resident’s debit card or credit card.
- Stealing money that is in the resident’s room. (From purses, safes, wallets, furniture drawers, etc.)
- Overcharging the resident for care and services.
- Filling out credit card applications with the resident’s personal information.
Boulton Law Group has investigated a number of these claims and found that in some cases the resident was suffering from a form of dementia, which led to them being unaware of the staff member’s crime.
Unfortunately, there have been a number of high-profile stories in the news regarding sexual assaults that occur in nursing homes. In most instances, a resident’s physical condition and advanced age leave them unable to thwart the attack of a staff member or visitor who commits this type of crime.
Often, victims of this crime may wrongfully feel ashamed or are threatened into silence by the suspect. For this reason, family and friends must pay special attention to a change in their loved one’s behavior and/or emotional state, similar to the signals we listed for signs of Psychological Abuse.
Additionally, there may also be physical clues that an assault has taken place, such as:
- Unexplained bruising
- Scratch marks
- Bite marks
If you suspect your loved one has been a victim of a sexual assault in a nursing home, it is imperative that you first contact the authorities so that they can document the incident and perform any needed DNA tests and/or necessary physical examinations.
Bullying by Fellow Residents
Boulton Law Group’s experience with nursing home abuse cases has also taught us that fellow residents can often be an unsuspected menace.
In fact, there are several documented cases of resident bullying, fighting, harassment, and various other assaults that are committed by a resident’s next-door neighbor and or supposed friend.
In some instances, a resident who is blamed for an assault was also found to have been suffering from a form of dementia, often unaware of what they were doing. In other examples, it has been found that an assault or bullying happened out of spite or jealousy.
No matter the circumstance that leads to fights between residents, it is ultimately the staff’s responsibility to ensure these incidents do not occur. Nursing homes can be held responsible for any damages that occur as a result of resident bullying.
Reporting nursing home abuse
In the opening of this blog we posed the following question: “Do all of us share a responsibility to help prevent nursing home abuse?” Of course, the answer is yes.
And the biggest step an individual can take toward decreasing nursing home abuse cases is to immediately and properly report any and all suspected incidents, no matter how small.
In a previous blog titled “How to file an Indiana nursing home abuse complaint” we detail the specific steps one needs to take to properly document any suspicion(s) of poor care.
When you file a complaint, it helps to ensure a proper investigation is performed. And in the event that abuse is uncovered, you not only help to protect your loved one from future harm, you have likely prevented it from happening to someone else.
Indianapolis nursing home abuse attorney
Attorney Matt Boulton has helped families throughout Indiana that requested his help with their loved one’s nursing home abuse case. In each case, Matt’s primary focus is on ensuring a loved one’s dignity and memory are represented to the full extent of the law.
Boulton Law Group offers a Zero Fee Guarantee to every family and victim of nursing home abuse. This means that you will never pay for legal advice or a consultation, and the only way the firm receives payment for its legal services is after we win the case. This ensures everyone has equal access to award-winning representation.
Additionally, no matter where you or your loved one are in Indiana, Matt will make a trip to you so that you do not have to be troubled with making travel plans. Our goal is to win your case, and equal to that is ensuring that you are treated like family every step of the way.
To speak with attorney Boulton today, call him at 317-350-2680. If you prefer to write to us, please use our confidential contact form for an immediate case review.
Attorney Matt Boulton is an award-winning personal injury attorney with more than 20 years of experience helping seriously injured people throughout Indiana reclaim what was taken from them. His firm was created for for the client who expects exceptional service and passionate, successful legal representation.