If you witness nursing home abuse, you should report the incident to the proper authorities. Reporting abuse varies from state to state, but it is important for you to follow the steps to properly document the incident.
Regardless of whether the abuse was intentional or not, the safety of residents at the nursing home is at stake. Some residents may be unable to report elder abuse or neglect on their own because of a mental or physical condition. Their safety is dependent on others protecting their rights and well-being.
Steps to Follow to Report Abuse
After you see neglect or abuse at the nursing home, you should immediately report the incident to the administration at the facility. You also have the option of filing a report with state authorities who regulate nursing home licensing and compliance.
The steps you can follow after you see a case of neglect or abuse at a nursing home include:
- Speak with the resident: you can gain more information about the situation and learn whether things like this have occurred previously.
- Speak with medical personnel: nurses and doctors can document potential abuse and help report the information to the proper authorities.
- Speak with local governing authorities: officials and regulators have the experience and authority to act in these types of cases.
- Speak with a long-term care ombudsman: an ombudsman can serve as an advocate for the residents of the nursing home.
- Speak with a trusted national organization: organizations can point you to the right local, state, and federal organizations, such as the National Center on Elder Abuse.
- Speak with the police: when the incident appears to be a criminal matter, the police should be informed immediately.
Getting to the Truth
Residents of a nursing home may be reluctant to talk about abuse or neglect. They may be afraid of certain staff members or may be concerned that they will cause problems for staff members whom they like.
Alerting government agencies in this instance can help. The investigators at these agencies have the ability to discuss sensitive matters in a way that residents can trust.
Reporting Cases of Neglect
When requested, the nursing home must provide contact information for organizations you can use to report potential cases of abuse or neglect.
Understanding Cases of Abuse
If you are unsure whether a situation you have witnessed would be considered abuse, it is best to report the matter to authorities. Provide the people who understand these cases with detailed information about the situation to help them decide if abuse has occurred.
Potential occurrences that can point toward an abusive situation at a nursing home include:
- Injuries that indicate physical abuse.
- Injuries that indicate sexual abuse.
- Unintentional neglect.
- Intentional neglect.
- Improper response to requests for help.
- Lack of proper food services.
- Delivering the wrong medications.
- Delaying medication.
- Failing to care for certain medical conditions.
- Psychological abuse.
- The exploitation of the resident.
- Withholding personal items as punishment.
- Withholding social opportunities as punishment.
Other situations can qualify as abuse besides those that are listed here. Do not assume that any case of abuse is minor in nature.
You should feel an obligation to report situations of negligence or abuse, even if they did not directly involve your loved one. You would want another person to report any instance of abuse that involved your loved one at the nursing home, even if they were just visiting the home.
Keep a Level Head
Although you may become angry when you witness nursing home abuse, it is important to remain calm. You should stand up for the resident who is suffering from abuse, but you should not lash out at staff or try to intervene physically.
Take notes on the situation that occurred so that you can recall them easily later. Write down the date, time, and location of the incident. Take photographs of any injuries that may have occurred. If you can give the authorities as much information as possible, they can investigate more thoroughly.
If you witness nursing home abuse and follow all the steps to report it, but you feel as though no one is taking your concerns seriously, you may need to hire counsel. With Pintas & Mullins Law Firm on your side, we can hold nursing homes accountable for any neglect and abuse that occurs. Call us today at (800) 842-6336, and we will discuss the particular situation in your case.