Nursing homes are supposed to be places where older adults and people who need around-the-clock care can receive the help they need. However, these facilities don’t always live up to their promises to residents and their loved ones. At locations that prioritize profit over the people in their care, residents can suffer neglect that has long-lasting impacts on their health.
This problem is getting worse, too. According to reports from around the world, neglect within nursing homes and care facilities is a growing problem. The number of older adults hospitalized due to neglect by the very facilities intended to care for them is on the rise. Injuries these victims suffer include bedsores, broken bones and concussions from falls, and even accidental poisonings.
If you have a loved one in a nursing home or other care facility, you owe it to them to watch for signs of neglect. Many people in these facilities are unable to advocate for themselves and may not even realize that they are being neglected. As someone who cares about them and is unconnected with the facility, you are best able to notice and report neglect and protect your loved one.
To do so, it’s important to understand why nursing home negligence and abuse occur and how to spot it. Here’s what you need to know about why care facilities may not give residents the support they need, what problems to look for, and how to get your loved one the care they deserve.
The Causes of Nursing Home Neglect
There are many reasons why a care facility might neglect its residents, and the pandemic made them all worse. According to a report by US News, long-term residential programs nationwide are struggling with the same issues as most other healthcare providers, such as:
- Staff shortages and turnover: The pressures of the pandemic have made it hard for many healthcare providers to hire enough staff to fill open positions. Nurses, doctors, certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and other workers have gotten sick in record numbers, and some have been unable to return to the workforce. Others have become burned out and left the field. The remaining workers are hard to keep, as the demands of the job or better pay offers from other locations cause them to leave.
- Increased patient loads: As a result of staffing shortages, the professionals who still work in care facilities are seeing higher patient loads than ever before. Many nurses are in charge of double the number of elderly residents than they were before the pandemic, making it harder to give each one the care and attention they need.
- Illnesses: The residents themselves are also sicker than they used to be. Between COVID-19 and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, patients at residential facilities are more likely to require significant care. Furthermore, the pandemic has pushed more older adults into needing residential support after they contracted COVID-19 and lost their ability to care for themselves.
- Supply shortages: Many medical facilities are struggling to acquire all the supplies they need to operate. As supply chains continue to fluctuate and global manufacturing locations routinely close for quarantines, providers may run out of everything from lifesaving drugs to cotton swabs daily.
In combination, these factors make it significantly harder for even well-meaning nursing homes to adequately care for their patients, causing an overall rise in neglect.
How to Spot Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Since neglect can happen anywhere, you can’t rely on a facility’s reputation to ensure your loved one is properly cared for. It’s essential to watch for signs of neglect so you can step in to protect your family member as soon as possible. Red flags for negligent care include:
- Inadequate hygiene or unsanitary conditions: One of the most basic elements of residential care is assisting residents with maintaining basic hygiene and sanitation. If your loved one’s room is unclean, or if it looks like they aren’t receiving baths or other hygiene assistance, they may be suffering from neglect.
- Development of bedsores: If your loved one is bedbound, they should regularly be moved and rotated in their bed to help them avoid developing bedsores. These are injuries caused by constant pressure and reduced blood flow, often in places like the ankles, shoulders, or hips. If your family member develops these, they may not be receiving the medical attention they need.
- Sudden injuries or decreases in ability: Residential care facilities are supposed to be safe and supportive environments. If your family member suddenly develops injuries like bruises, broken bones, or concussions, they may have tried to move around on their own and fallen. That’s a significant indication that they are being neglected. Similarly, if they quickly lose mobility or other abilities without a related diagnosis, they may not be receiving the physical therapy they need.
- Unexplained psychological issues: Emotional issues like new fear or anger directed toward caretakers or depression and withdrawal from family and friends could be signs that your loved one isn’t receiving appropriate care from the facility.
Protect Your Loved One From Care Facility Neglect
If you notice any of the signs mentioned above, you should dig into the conditions provided by their residential facility. You are your loved one’s best chance at receiving adequate healthcare and treatment. If you believe that the facility is being neglected, you can take action on behalf of your family member to hold the site accountable for its negligence.
The first step is to consult with an experienced nursing home neglect attorney. The experts at The Ellis Firm, APLC., have years of experience advocating for victims of abuse and negligence within residential programs. You can discuss your situation and learn more about your options to protect your family member by requesting your appointment online or calling our Temecula office at (951) 289-0628 today.