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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysThe statistics regarding nursing home abuse and neglect are extremely disheartening. In one study, nearly 25 percent of nursing home residents reported that they had suffered one or more incidents of physical abuse at the hands of nursing home staff. In addition to physical abuse, residents may be mocked, internationally frightened, and otherwise emotionally abused. Financial abuse, also called elder financial exploitation, is also a problem in many nursing homes. Even if nursing home staff do not intentionally harm residents, understaffed facilities and lack of appropriate staff training can lead residents to be dangerously neglected.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may be especially concerned about their safety during this tumultuous time. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to minimize your loved one’s changes of experiencing nursing home neglect or abuse.

Research Nursing Home Facilities Thoroughly

Oftentimes, a nursing home facility will look perfect on the outside but is actually quite inadequate on the inside. If you are considering placing a loved one in a nursing home, make sure to thoroughly research your options. Simply reading a brochure will not tell you everything you need to know about the facility. The Department of Veterans Affairs and Medicare issue ratings on the quality of nursing homes, but even these ratings may be skewed. The best way to find out about a nursing home facility is to visit the facility and talk to staff. If possible, it may also be a good idea to speak with other families with loved ones staying in the nursing home.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have a family member or a loved one residing in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility, you may have concerns about how he or she is being treated by the facility’s staff. Is your loved one getting enough food and water? Are medications being given at the right times and in the right dosages? Are staff members kind and caring? To allay such concerns, many families have installed surveillance cameras—sometimes called “granny cams”—in the rooms of their loved ones in nursing homes. Unfortunately, not everyone likes what the cameras show, as was the case for a North Carolina woman late last summer.

Surprising Footage

According to local news outlets, the woman installed a hidden camera inside a picture frame and placed the frame on a countertop in her mother’s room at a Cherryville, NC, nursing facility this past August. The woman was concerned that her mother was not being fed properly or checked in on often enough. Her mother is reportedly blind and has Alzheimer’s disease.

The woman, however, said she got the surprise of her life less than 24 hours after installing the camera. She said that footage revealed a nursing assistant yelling at her mother while changing her mother’s clothes. The assistant also reportedly moved the resident “violently” across the bed while changing her. The next day, the camera captured a similar incident involving a different employee.  

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysThe majority of people living in a nursing home must stay there because they have mental and/or physical ailments that make it impossible for them to live alone. Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other illnesses that affect cognition are especially common in nursing home resident. These illnesses can sometimes cause a nursing home patient to become extremely confused or hostile.

In some cases, a resident may believe that nursing home staff or other residents are trying to hurt them so they act out aggressively. In order to keep residents from harming themselves, other residents, or nursing home staff, physical restraints are sometimes used. However, excessively using physical restraints to confine a nursing home resident can constitute nursing home abuse.

Common Types of Physical Restraints

Restraints are anything that restricts the movement of a nursing home resident. Examples of physical restraints include:

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have not seen the 1999 film Fight Club, you have probably at least heard about the rules of Fight Club. According to the movie, “The first rule of Fight Club is, ‘You do not talk about Fight Club.’ The second rule of Fight Club is, ‘YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB.’” In the film, the Fight Club in question was a brutal, underground association of men from all walks of life who voluntarily engaged in semi-organized physical fights with one another as a violent form of cathartic release.

 

Today, two decades later, people still reference the movie and the idea of a fight club, but it is rarely discussed as a real thing. For elderly residents of a North Carolina assisted-living facility, however, the idea of a type of fight club was all too real, according to horrifying reports. Three staff members are currently facing criminal charges for encouraging dementia patients at the home to fight one another and posting the videos of the fights on social media.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_nursing-home-woman-sad-neglect-abuse.jpgWhen a loved one requires the type of care that is only available in a nursing home or similar long-term care facilities, it is understandable for you to trust that he or she will be properly cared for. Nursing facilities, after all, employ trained medical professionals and other staff members whose primary responsibilities are to address the needs of the patients under their care. Sadly, many nursing home patients do not receive the care they need. Many others are subjected to treatment that might even qualify as neglect or abuse. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, there are some things you can look for that might be potential indicators of abuse or neglect.

Many Residents, Many Concerns

There are more than 100,000 Illinois residents currently living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Illinois. The figure is expected to continue to grow, as recent estimates suggest that nearly half of Americans will require a nursing home stay at least once during their lives. Unfortunately, the high number of residents translates to a high number of patients who are likely to be abused or neglected, some of whom might suffer severe injuries or death as a result.

In order to best protect your loved ones, it is important that you visit regularly and look for any of the following signs of neglect:

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysMost people would agree that nursing home staff have a challenging job. While many nursing home residents are kind, cooperative, and simply want to live their lives as comfortably as possible, sometimes physical and mental health issues cause nursing home residents to act obstinately or aggressively. In some cases, a resident may require sedation through the use of chemical restraints. However, restraining a resident through the use of medication should always be a last resort and should only be used when the resident is a danger to himself, herself, or others.

Sedating Residents with Medication is Regulated By Law

Nursing home staff should never use psychiatric medication to sedate a resident unless the situation absolutely requires it. Sadly, studies show that many nursing home employees are over-administering sedating medication to residents simply for their own convenience. Even worse, some nursing home staff have been caught using restraints as a form of punishment. Not only is this practice immoral, it is also in direct violation of several laws including the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act.

The Nursing Home Care Act clearly states that “Neither restraints nor confinements shall be employed for the purpose of punishment or for the convenience of any facility personnel.” Furthermore, physical and chemical restrains must only be used when ordered by a physician and the need for restraints must be documented in the resident’s clinical record.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have a loved one who is currently living in a nursing home, you expect that the facility will provide a high level of care based on your loved one’s needs. Many nursing home residents, as you probably know, are already dealing with a wide range of physical, mental, or behavioral conditions that necessitate the around-the-clock care that nursing homes provide. For some residents, however, things are made even more difficult. Sadly, physical abuse is not unheard of in nursing homes, and such abuse can be extremely serious.

Physical Abuse by Staff Members

It is no secret that staffing is a problem in many nursing homes. Chronic understaffing has long been associated with significant drops in employee morale, as well as concerns regarding proper training and patient care protocols. In short, far too many nursing homes are left with staff members who are overworked, underpaid, and, often, ill-equipped to handle their patients. Unfortunately, some staff members take their frustrations out on their patients.

According to research compiled by the National Center on Elder Abuse, more than 50 percent of nursing home staff admitted to the mistreatment of their elderly patients. While two-thirds of these admissions reportedly involved neglect, this still means that about 17 percent admitted to physically mistreating patients under their care.

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Illinois nursing home wrongful death lawyerThe decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is never easy. Most people wish that they did not have to move their elderly or disabled loved one out of their home and into a long-term care facility, but they often do not have another choice. Nursing homes are filled with residents who need more extensive medical care and help with daily living tasks than a family member could handle on their own.

Many nursing home residents are quite frail, and when nursing home staff do not properly care for the residents or meet their medical needs, the results can be deadly. If your loved one passed away while staying in a nursing home and you believe the death was due to negligence or abuse, do not hesitate to contact a qualified nursing home abuse injury lawyer for help.

When is a Nursing Home Death a Wrongful Death?

Because many nursing home residents are elderly or in poor health when they arrive at the facility, it is not surprising that many residents pass away while staying in the facility. Consequently, it can sometimes be difficult to know if a loved one’s death was preventable or not. The term “wrongful death” refers to deaths that happen as a result of the negligent or intentionally harmful acts of another. The Wrongful Death Act in the Illinois Complied Statutes technically defines a wrongful death as a death resulting from “a wrongful act, neglect or default.” This means that a nursing home staff member’s action or inaction may be to blame for the death of a resident. Other times, it is the nursing home facility itself that is the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit.

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect attorneysAs the “Baby Boomer" generation ages, more and more people need the around-the-clock care offered by nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Long-term care facilities can provide a safe home for elderly and disabled individuals, but sadly, not every nursing home is up to standards. Vulnerable nursing home residents can be experience neglect, physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation at the hands of caregivers.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you should always be on the lookout for signs that something isn’t right. Often, the signs of elder neglect and abuse are subtle. Nursing home residents who struggle with cognition, memory, or speech may be unable to ask for help or communicate what has happened to them. Loved ones of nursing home residents should be vigilant for signs of neglect and abuse.

Withdrawn or Uncommunicative Staff May Be a Red Flag

Understandably, not everyone enjoys every second of their work day. Nursing home staff members have a job which can be physically, psychologically, and emotionally demanding. However, nursing home staff should still be personally committed to the well-being of the residents in their care. Nursing home or assisted living staff who avoid talking with residents’ family members or seem uncomfortable interacting with residents may be a red flag. Likewise, overworked, exhausted staff can be a warning sign that the facility is not staffed adequately. Staffing issues, including understaffing and undertraining, are some of the most common reasons residents suffer neglect and abuse.  

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Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersLong-term care facilities like nursing homes are designed to assist elderly and disabled individuals with daily living tasks and enhance their quality of life. In addition to helping residents shower, eat, and take their medicine, nursing home staff have a legal duty to treat the residents with carefulness and compassion. When nursing home employees fail to carry out their work tasks accurately and timely, the results can be deadly. Many nursing home residents are not physically or mentally capable of looking after their own needs. They may forget to eat or drink, wander off of the facility into danger, or slip and fall when not being supervised. This is why it is so important for family members to be watchful for signs of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Common Red Flags That Your Loved One May Be Suffering in a Long-Term Care Facility

Nursing home neglect can take several forms. Neglected residents may be left without adequate food and water, appropriate clothing, or denied help showering and using the bathroom. Nursing home facilities that are cluttered, dirty, or contain unaddressed environmental hazards may be unsafe for residents.

Pressure sores, or bed sores, are another common sign of nursing home neglect. Residents who are not mobile rely on nursing home staff to occasionally reposition them in order to prevent bed sores. Untreated or frequent bedsores are often a sign that a nursing home resident is being neglected or abused. Unexplained injuries like lacerations, bruises, fractures, and welts may be signs that a nursing home resident is being physically abused.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysYou have probably heard many news stories of nursing home abuse and neglect. Individuals staying in nursing homes generally need a higher level of care than those at other types of facilities and are therefore more vulnerable to abuse and neglect. However, mistreatment does still happen at assisted living facilities, and it is just as unacceptable as mistreatment at nursing homes. If you or a loved one has suffered due to negligence or abuse while living in an assisted living facility, you may be able to sue for damages.

Residents May Be Afraid to Come Forward

Residents of an assisted living facility are usually slightly more independent than residents at a nursing home. They may only need limited assistance with daily living activities and are less likely to suffer from serious dementia or other memory or cognition issues. Even though they are more self-sufficient than nursing home residents, those living at an assisted living facility can still be taken advantage of and mistreated. Sometimes assisted living abuse and neglect goes unreported because the victim is afraid to speak up. Other times, residents fear that an abusive staff member will retaliate if they report the mistreatment. Other residents are simply unaware of what their rights are at an assisted living facility or put up with bad care because they do not realize they deserve better.

Examples of Assisted Living Abuse and Neglect

Assisted living abuse can occur not only between staff and residents, but also among residents themselves. In cases in which a resident is being abused by another resident, the assisted living staff have a responsibility to implement interventions to prevent future abuse incidents. Assisted living abuse can involve:

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