The decision to place a loved one or family member into a nursing home can be a devastating one. As painful as it is, it is often necessary, and families often try to console themselves by at least ensuring, to the extent that they can, that the home they choose is safe, clean, diligent, and will create a productive and attentive environment for their loved ones.
There are many resources on steps that you can take to ensure that the home or facility is safe. Certainly, nothing is foolproof—the best, safest companies and businesses of any kind are often negligent—but being alert and aware and doing a thorough investigation of a facility can at leasts minimize the risk of injury.
Resident on Resident Violence
When families investigate a facility, even after their loved one is admitted there, they often focus on the actions (or omissions) of the staff. But there is a large category of nursing home abuse that does not directly relate on the staff or the cleanliness or conditions of the facility. We often fail to account for the very real problem of resident-on-resident abuse.
Resident-on-resident abuse can take the form of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. A 2014 study found that one in five residents in New York were victims of violence by another resident.
The offenders are often not evil, but rather, impaired by dementia, or other cognitive issues that can affect temper or judgment. Combine that with the often close or crowded living quarters and common areas, and there is a recipe for abuse.
Deaths of residents at the hands of other residents have been reported and been the subject of lawsuits. In 2015 a New Mexico resident was killed after being beaten by a fellow resident who was suffering from dementia. That incident lead to a lawsuit against the home.
Facility Can Be Liable
Although it is easy to put blame on the perpetrator, in many cases the homes will have liability for these kinds of incidents. In many cases, homes will not look deep enough into a resident’s background before admitting him or her.
Residents that should be closely monitored by staff are often left unattended around other residents. In many cases, residents are admitted or left alone around others even when the facility has knowledge of a resident’s violent or dangerous propensities.
For residents who may have mental conditions that make them prone to violence, facility staff may not be doing enough to make sure the residents are on the correct medications, or receiving needed therapy.
Families should monitor loved ones for changes in mood, affect, or emotion. Of course, any bruises or cuts that do not have a ready explanation should also be explored. Families should take note of and observe the residents who share rooms or common areas with their family member and report any aggressive or suspicious behavior to staff.
Make sure your loved ones are taken care of while in nursing homes or elder care facilities. If you suspect abuse or negligence, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss your case.