Families place their loved ones in nursing homes because they believe doing so is in the interest of their wellbeing. Unfortunately, nursing home facilities are not always a sanctuary for older people who need them. Reporting elder abuse is important because it sets a precedent for other nursing homes: care for the people entrusted to you or pay the consequences.
So, what do you do when you suspect something isn’t right at a nursing home? Fortunately, you have options as a family member to report suspected abuse in a nursing home. If you work in a nursing home and believe they abuse patients, you must report it to officials.
Signs of Elderly Abuse
First, it’s essential to know the signs of elderly abuse. In many instances, families might believe that symptoms of nursing abuse are a result of old age rather than mistreatment. So, knowing typical signs of nursing home abuse can help a person determine if a facility is mistreating their loved one. Elderly abuse can come in the form of physical injuries, mistreatment, and even emotional manipulation.
Common signs of nursing home abuse include the following:
- Unexplained bruises
- Sudden changes to a will or power of attorney
- Poor hygiene
- Frequent & unexplained illness
- Financial trouble
- Social withdrawal
Studies have found that elderly people show less function in the part of the brain that processes risk and subtle danger. Because of this inhibited ability to process dangers, older people are much more susceptible to manipulation. So, nursing home abuse might manifest as a staff member taking advantage of an aged person's inability to process malice intent as efficiently as younger individuals.
How to Report Abuse in a Nursing Home as an Employee
The state of Pennsylvania has a law known as the Older Adults Protective Services Act (OAPSA) mandates reporting requirements for health workers if they witness elder abuse. This law requires an administrator or employee of a facility to report abuse to their closes Area Agency on Aging and the agencies which license the nursing home. If the suspected abuse is sexual, causes serious physical injury, bodily harm, or causes death, then employees must report the incident to the Department of Aging as well as local law enforcement.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse as a Family Member
First, family members should report suspected abuse by a nursing home staff member to their supervisors. In some instances, a supervisor might not be aware of the abuse. It’s their job to handle the situation and their legal responsibility to report the situation to relevant authorities. Additionally, contact the primary care physician who provides healthcare to your loved one.
If a supervisor or facility owner is complicit with the abuse, contact your closest Area Agency on Aging to report the abuse. If you think that your loved one is in danger of immediate harm, call 911 as soon as possible to receive the support of local law enforcement.
When Reporting Nursing Home Abuse Isn’t Effective
If your loved one has suffered from elder abuse at a nursing home, you have legal options that can protect them. In many instances, families are not aware that their relative was the recipient of abuse before it is too late. Recent reports show that one in four cases of nursing home abuse remains unreported. These crimes have a damaging effect on families and victims, and nursing homes should never be allowed to escape accountability.
Handler, Henning & Rosenberg knows that families deserve answers after a nursing home abuse incident. We are ready to protect the legal rights of your loved one while demanding answers from those who failed to take care of them. Our firm has been helping the people of Pennsylvania since 1922. In that time, we’ve helped clients throughout the state and nation earn tens of millions of dollars and find solutions to some of the most heart-breaking problems in their life.
If your reporting of nursing home abuse has failed to protect your family member, call HHR today at (888) 498-3023. Consultation is free, so you can find out what your legal options are.