As your parents age, you want to ensure the care they are getting is top-notch. There may come a time when they are no longer able to live on their own and you are unable to care for them. If that’s the case, it could mean moving your parents into a nursing home or assisted living facility.
No matter how much research you do beforehand, finding the perfect nursing home for your parents is challenging. Even with your research, you and/or your parents may find that the nursing home you decided on isn’t right. Your parents may be showing signs of sadness or depression, or you may feel like they aren’t receiving proper individualized care.
Fortunately, you are not obligated to keep your parents in a facility if you or they aren’t happy with it. That’s especially the case when that unhappiness is the result of the facility breaching its duty of care. Here are some steps you can take if you suspect abuse or neglect from your parents’ nursing home.
Inquire and Investigate
Before jumping to conclusions, you will want to investigate further. Just because your parents aren’t happy doesn’t mean they are experiencing neglect. They may not like the home for various reasons, such as their living space or when they are able to see other residents. Sit down with your parents and ask them why they are unhappy and provide suggestions to improve the situation. You may be able to work with the staff to better assist them and make them feel more at home.
Of course, if you suspect neglect or abuse, that changes things. Neglect is when an individual’s basic needs are unmet, while abuse is any type of physical injury, emotional mistreatment, or sexual misconduct. If this is the case, you may need to consult a nursing home abuse attorney who can help you collect proper evidence.
Evidence can vary based on whether your parents are experiencing neglect or abuse. To prove neglect, insurance claim documents as well as medical records may be necessary. If you suspect physical abuse, you will likely want to get the opinion of a healthcare provider. They will be able to document such signs as malnutrition, bruises or broken bones, dehydration, burns, or other abnormalities. Photos or videos also serve as documentation.
In addition to an attorney, there are other resources you can lean on if you find yourself in this situation. First, it’s generally a good idea to work with the nursing home itself. After all, they are in the business of providing quality care and should want what is best for your parents. If one bad apple is responsible for your parents’ mistreatment, it is in the facility’s best interest to root that person out.
So inform the nursing home administrator that you suspect neglect or abuse and give examples. This may be a time to show any evidence, such as videos that you’ve taken. The staff may be able to make changes immediately to help solve the problem.
If you are still unsatisfied or looking for additional support, you can contact a nursing home ombudsperson. This individual protects residents and can assist in resolving issues regarding your parents’ safety, health, and overall well-being. Think of an ombudsperson as an intermediary between the residents and the nursing home. The ombudsperson can recommend changes to ensure your parents’ needs are being met.
In addition, reach out to family and friends for support. Going through this problem alone can be overwhelming. If you have family who can assist, such as siblings, aunts and uncles, or cousins, get them onboard. Even if they aren’t geographically close, knowing you can pick up the phone and get their opinion can be beneficial.
File a Lawsuit
After you’ve taken all those steps, you and your attorney may decide the time has come to sue. You have the right to file a claim based on negligence, abuse, medical malpractice, breach of the nursing home’s contract, and other violations.
With the proper evidence and support, filing a lawsuit doesn’t necessarily have to be a headache. The process of filing entails multiple steps, and it can take a while before a resolution is reached. Considering this, be sure to file your claim properly from the start. An attorney who is well versed in nursing home abuse or neglect will follow the steps required to get what you and your family deserve.
Most nursing home claims end in settlement, as this is oftentimes less burdensome than going to trial. A settlement allows you and your parents to maintain a sense of privacy. It also offers a quicker resolution than going to court and is a less stressful process overall. From a financial perspective, it can be less costly — and risky — to settle rather than attempt to gain more through a full trial. Again, work with your attorney to figure out what makes the most sense for you and your family.
If your parents are experiencing nursing abuse or neglect, you’ll need to take prompt action. But don’t let one bad situation ruin the reputation of nursing homes altogether. There are plenty of facilities that have their residents’ best interests at heart. When you find one, you’ll rest easy knowing your parents are receiving care that is most appropriate for their needs.
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