Families often choose nursing homes for their loved ones when they do not have the time, resources, or training to provide the care that they need. While the needs of nursing home residents vary, many require help with everyday activities, such as:
- Getting out of bed
- Using the restroom
- Taking a shower
- Changing clothes
- Brushing teeth
- Eating and drinking
Residents deserve dignity and respect, and nursing home staff have an obligation to meet even their most basic needs. If staff members fail to provide help with their everyday activities, their negligence can have a profound impact on the residents’ health and safety.
Federal Law Requires That Nursing Homes Provide Residents with Assistance
In 1987, the United States government passed federal legislation mandating quality care for all nursing home residents. The Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) clarifies the duties of nursing home staff to provide consistent, thorough, and appropriate care to residents, as well as the rights of the residents to receive such care and participate actively in decisions regarding their needs and preferences.
According to the NHRA, residents have the right to receive accommodation for their physical needs in a manner that protects their privacy and allows them the autonomy to make their own decisions. Staff must provide these personal needs using a resident-centered approach that does not subject the resident to any type of mistreatment.
Some nursing home residents have medical conditions that require specialized care and treatment, and the facilities have a responsibility to provide care in accordance with each resident’s particular needs. Residents’ medical issues often require daily support, which may include:
- Taking medication
- Turning or shifting in bed to prevent bedsores
- Cleaning and dressing wounds
- Receiving appropriate care from medical providers, including mental health professionals
Nursing home staff must ensure that residents receive quality medical care in accordance with their needs and contact a resident’s doctor if they have concerns about the resident’s condition or do not feel that they can provide the level of care a patient requires. Failing to help residents with their everyday needs, including medical assistance, can lead to serious illness or injury.
Hobbies and Social Interaction
Social relationships have a positive impact on the overall health of older adults. However, while many nursing homes prioritize the relationship between residents and their primary care providers, these providers do not often emphasize the importance of social interaction to a resident’s overall well-being.
Nursing homes make it easy for residents to receive around-the-clock care, but they also become the residents’ primary communities. Nursing homes must take an active role in helping residents participate in the hobbies, relationships, and activities they enjoy in order to meet their social needs.
According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), neglect involves the failure to provide care in a manner that would prevent harm or the failure to react to a situation that could cause harm.
Nursing home staff may engage in negligent behavior knowingly or unintentionally. Regardless of intent, victims and their families can still hold nursing homes legally accountable for instances of neglect, which may include lack of assistance with:
- Personal hygiene
- Medical needs
- Social participation
- Calls for help
Neglecting the daily needs of residents can lead to new or prolonged illnesses, injuries suffered as a result of residents attempting to care for themselves, and other medical emergencies.
Nursing Homes Must Meet Staffing Requirements
When patients suffer neglect at the hands of nursing home staff, the facility may attempt to use understaffing as an excuse. However, nursing homes must meet federal and state staffing requirements, and their failure to do so may lead to legal repercussions.
The NHRA holds that, at a minimum, nursing homes must 24-hour licensed nursing services sufficient to meet the needs of each resident, and that a registered nurse must provide services at least eight hours per day, seven days a week. Individual state laws vary based on the needs of their populations, but many include further requirements for sufficient staff, licensed staff, and direct care staff.
If a nursing home does not provide adequate staffing based on their resident volume and the needs of their residents and their residents suffer the effects of negligence as a result, victims and their families can hold them responsible.
An Attorney Can Help Victims of Nursing Home Neglect and Their Families
When families learn that a nursing home has failed to provide help with the everyday activities of their loved one, they may struggle to determine the next step in holding the nursing home accountable for the illness or injury caused by their negligence. They do not have to navigate the process alone.
If nursing home staff neglected to provide proper care for you or your family member, our nursing home abuse lawyers can help. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 842-6336 to speak with our legal team about your free case evaluation.