As of 2019, over 70,000 elderly patients live in a variety of nursing and elderly care homes in the state of Florida alone. When your family makes the difficult decision to seek this type of long-term housing for a loved one, you do so with the expectation that they will be properly and thoroughly cared for. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
Thousands of nursing home residents every year experience nursing home abuse or neglect—and these are just the cases that are successfully reported and addressed. Florida is a popular location for retirement and elderly care, meaning it has high standards for these types of facilities. If you suspect these standards have been breached, and your elderly family member may have or may still be experiencing the effects of that abuse, you have options for filing a claim and getting them the attention and compensation they deserve.
The Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Abuse of any kind and to someone of any age is devastating. But when it comes to nursing home abuse, cases can be even more difficult to navigate because many victims often don’t report incidents. They may not have the mental, emotional, or physical capacity to report their abuse, or may be afraid to report it. Staff members may threaten residents against reporting the abuse, or neglect may occur due to understaffing or other issues. But none of these are ever an excuse for abuse or neglect to occur.
The most common physical signs of nursing home neglect include:
- Sprains, often of the ankles, wrists, or elbows
- Bruises, cuts, scrapes, or other wounds
- Broken or fractured bones
- Prolonged medication errors
- Bedding or clothing that appears soiled, dirty, or unchanged
- Weight loss or other signs of malnutrition
One or more of these can be signs of neglect and should be addressed with the facility staff as soon as you notice them happen to your family member. But there are other types of abuse that occur in nursing homes that can be even harder to identify than the physical injuries and ailments that can occur with neglect. A heartbreakingly common form is physical abuse by way of intention or force. Signs of this type of abuse may include:
- Pushing or shoving
- Use of unapproved restraint
- Any physical act intended to harm a resident
If you suspect your loved one is being physically abused in such a manner, look for wounds they may have suffered, and pay close attention to their behavior. Do they seem frightened? Are they refusing to see you or other visitors? These are common warning signs of forceful physical abuse.
Emotional abuse can occur in nursing homes as well. Staff or others at the facility could insult, intimidate, humiliate, and make threats to your family member. They may also isolate them, treat them like a child, or show signs of burden and annoyance when caring for them. Indicators of emotional abuse may include:
- More agitation or anger than normal
- Any other change in normal behavior
- Personality changes
- Refusal to see visitors
And finally, your loved one may not necessarily be experiencing direct physical abuse, but instead could be a victim of service neglect or improper care. These can include:
- Improper food and water provisions
- Improper healthcare or hygiene
- A lack of general assistance
- A lack of general safety
- Failure to keep residents comfortable
What to Do if Your Loved One Has Been Abused in a Nursing Home
If you believe your loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, it’s important to take action as soon as possible. This family member is counting on you to be an advocate on their behalf, especially if they don’t have the means to be an advocate for themselves.
Florida nursing home facilities are required to have strict protocols for investigating abuse. This means you should start by reporting the incident, evidence, or your general concerns directly to the nursing home’s administrative department. Don’t directly confront the staff member you believe is responsible—that may exacerbate the situation and lead to worse scenarios for your loved one.
After you report to administration, you should expect the incident to be documented and for an investigation to be opened. The suspected staff involved may even be suspended while the investigation is ongoing. If you don’t believe the incident is being handled properly or in a timely fashion, or you fear for the well-being of your loved one, you may want to consider contacting the police to file a report.
Filing these claims and reports are essential to enacting any kind of change. While it’s possible to file them without the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer, you may want to consider seeking the aid and advice of one nonetheless.
Florida nursing homes can be held liable for negligence or abuse if it’s found that their staff, doctors, or caretakers behaved inappropriately, thus leading to improper care or injury to your loved one. Every situation of abuse is unique because every victim of abuse is unique, but some of the most common claims brought against these types of facilities include:
- Failure to provide adequate training for caretakers and other staff
- Failure to provide property security for residents
- Hiring of dangerous or unqualified people to care for residents
- Failure to provide adequate food, water, shelter, or other basic needs to residents
- Neglect of proper medical care or administration of medications
- Failure to enforce the facility’s rules and policies
- Failure to discipline staff members who abuse residents or violate other policies
With a team like The Whisler Law Firm on your side, you can focus on getting your loved one the care and attention they need while we focus on building your case. We can gather evidence, including police reports, medical records, staff information, policy information, and security footage, and use it to file a claim on your behalf. We’ll help you navigate the emotional situation of opening an abuse claim and make the case your loved one needs in order to secure the compensation they deserve for their injuries. We have the legal experience you need, and access to the support you might be seeking during this difficult time. Call our office at 833-529-5677 or fill out our online form to request an entirely free consultation