The signs of assisted living neglect among residents may include evidence of physical injuries, emotional trauma, and changes in behavior or personality. All long-term care facilities have a legal obligation to uphold the rights of residents, which include the personalized accommodation of all their needs.
Unfortunately, neglect in assisted living facilities remains a significant concern, and families may find it difficult to notice the signs of neglect until it has taken place over an extended period. Regardless of whether it occurs intentionally, the liable facility can face fines, penalties, and civil suits for their lack of oversight and provision of substandard care.
The Difference Between Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
Although similar, nursing homes and assisted living facilities have distinct differences. Both serve the purpose of providing seniors and other dependent adults with the care and services they need, but the level of intervention varies.
Generally, nursing homes provide more intensive supervision and regular medical care, while assisted living residents live more independently in apartments or suites and only receive help with daily activities they cannot complete on their own.
Residents of assisted living facilities may not need the around-the-clock care provided in nursing homes, but they still need help with certain activities, which prevents them from living on their own. Their relative independence means that they require less than nursing home residents, but it does not give facilities an excuse to neglect their needs. Without the appropriate services, residents can suffer serious physical, mental, or emotional consequences.
Neglect in Long-Term Care Facilities
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), concern about the treatment of residents in long-term care facilities became an issue in the 1970s, when these facilities did not have the current legal oversight and regulations they do now.
Sadly, despite the many legal protections afforded residents today, elder abuse and neglect still occurs at a startlingly high rate. National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS) data found that in 2014, Ombudsman programs, which oversee the investigation of abuse and neglect in care facilities, received more than 14,000 complaints of abuse, gross neglect, or exploitation, and this number only represents cases that victims or their families reported.
Additionally, a 2008 study revealed that state surveys regularly understate issues and concerns within their facilities; in fact, 70% failed to report at least one deficiency, and more than one in ten missed incidents of actual or immediate harm to residents.
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The Signs of Assisted Living Neglect
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care defines neglect as the failure to provide care for a person in a manner that would prevent them from suffering harm and pain or the failure to react to a situation that could present a danger. Neglect in long-term care facilities occurs when staff does not provide the necessary assistance to residents who need help with basic tasks, such as receiving proper nutrition, completing personal care routines, and bathing. Some of the signs of assisted living neglect may include:
- Lack of contact with loved ones
- Sudden distrust of friends and family members
- Inaccessibility of basic needs such as eyeglasses or hearing aids
- Physical injuries that occur as the result of a resident’s inability to seek staff assistance
- Withdrawal or depression
- Anxiety or fear
- Anger or aggression
- Refusal to speak about their care
If you notice these or other changes in a loved one who resides in an assisted living facility, a lawyer can help you report the issue and pursue financial awards.
Some Residents Have a Higher Risk of Suffering from Neglect
Any older adult can suffer elder abuse and neglect in a long-term care setting, but some people have an increased chance of experiencing mistreatment. Some of the risk factors for neglect include:
- Lack of support from friends and family
- Physical impairment
- History of abuse
Researchers have also found that neglect occurs more commonly among African American residents and women.
Residents Have a Right to Safe, Healthy Living Environments
States manage legislation for assisted living facilities, so the laws will vary by location. Just as the law prohibits abuse and neglect in the community, they prohibit criminal acts within long-term care settings, as well. Residents of these have a right to receive quality care free from any form of mistreatment in a manner that improves or maintains their physical and mental health. They also have a right to:
- Management of their own finances
- Participation in their care plan
- Accommodation of all needs
- Communicate openly without the threat of retaliation
- Maintain personal relationships
- Receive care and treatment with dignity and respect
If you have recognized signs of neglect at your loved one’s assisted living facility, the administration may attempt to blame factors such as understaffing. While neglect can occur unintentionally, states outline specific staffing regulations. Failure to abide by legal staffing requirements may constitute a violation of the law.
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Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to Pursue Financial Recovery in Your Case
Assisted living facilities do not, under any circumstances, have an excuse for the neglect of your loved one. If you suspect or have discovered the neglect of your loved one in a long-term care facility, the lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you seek compensation in your case. Contact us today at (800) 794-0444 to get started with our legal team.