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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysNursing home residents live in a nursing home because they are unable to live on their own. This could be due to physical disabilities, mental incapacitation, or most often, both. Sometimes these issues make it necessary to restrain a resident in order to limit his or her movement in some way. For example, side rails on a bed may be used to help a resident who is prone to rolling out of bed avoid injury. Restraints can be either physical or chemical, and should only be used when doing so is absolutely necessary to prevent harm to the resident. Restraints that are used as a punishment or for the convenience of nursing home staff are unacceptable and not in compliance with Illinois law.

The Nursing Home Care Act Outlines Residents’ Rights

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act is a law that protects the rights of nursing home residents and dictates the type of care that nursing home staff must provide for residents. According to the law, nursing home residents have the right to:

  • Be free from neglect and abuse at the hands of nursing home staff;
  • Practice their chosen religion;
  • Keep personal items and clothing in their room;
  • Receive medical treatment from a doctor of their choosing;
  • Receive visits, phone calls, and other correspondence from loved ones;
  • Refuse unwanted medical treatment; and
  • Be free from unreasonable restraint.

These are only a few of the rights protected by the Nursing Home Care Act. The full text of the act can be found in Section 210 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysAnyone who has placed their parent, grandparent, or loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility can tell you that the transition is not always easy. The first holiday season away from home can be especially difficult for nursing home residents and their families. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, rehabilitation facility, or assisted living facility, and you plan to visit them this holiday season, the following tips may help your visit go more smoothly.

Let the Resident Dictate the Conversation

You may be unsure of how to approach visiting a loved one in a nursing home his holiday season. Should you acknowledge that it is Christmas soon or change the subject? Should you bring up memories from past holidays or focus on the here and now? The answer will depend both on the reason the resident is living in a long-term care facility as well as their personality.

Residents who struggle with cognitive decline due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may not understand or remember that the holidays are near. Other residents will be capable of enjoying long conversations about your holiday plans. Some individuals living in nursing homes do not want to be reminded that they are missing out on holiday traditions. The best course of action may be to simply let the resident dictate the conversation topic. If you sense your loved one is become anxious or agitated by a certain conversation, try changing the subject or giving him or her a break from the stimulation.

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Chicago nursing home neglect attorneyResidents staying in a long-term care facility like a nursing home or assisted living center often have physical and mental challenges which make them especially vulnerable to environmental risks. Nursing home staff have a duty to provide clean and safe living spaces for residents. Unfortunately, issues like understaffing and budget cuts have led to some nursing home’s cutting corners when it comes to the safety of their residents. Nursing home abuse and neglect are sadly not rare occurrences. If you or someone you love has been injured or fallen ill due to an unsafe nursing home facility, please read on to learn what you can do to receive compensation.

Nursing Homes Must Meet Certain Criteria

Both state and federal laws require that nursing homes meet certain standards when it comes to cleanliness and safety. For example, showers and toilets should be fitted with grab bars so that residents with physical disabilities can safely maneuver in the bathroom. Kitchen areas should be cleaned and sanitized regularly, and precautions should be taken to avoid contaminating food. Unfortunately, these protocols are not always followed.

Environmental Risks Can Increase the Chance of Falls, Injuries, and Illnesses

Because the majority of nursing home residents have serious physical and/or mental disabilities, it is critical for their living environment to be as risk-free as possible. Things like hazardous chemicals, poor indoor air quality, unsafe living conditions, and poor food preparation hygiene can be life-threatening to someone whose body is already weakened by age or illness.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home, you should know that while many nursing home staff have the residents’ best interest at heart, nursing home abuse and neglect is a sad reality. Sometimes it is due to maliciousness and other times, understaffing, poor staff communication, or inadequate staff training. Regardless of how or why it happens, nursing home abuse and neglect is unacceptable. It is up to friends and family of nursing home residents to be their advocates and watch out for signs of neglect or abuse. Physical abuse is usually easier to spot than emotional abuse. It is important, however, to learn about the main types of emotional abuse and how to notice if your loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home.

Purposely Demeaning or Humiliating Residents

Getting older and needing the around-the-clock-care that a nursing home provides can be an incredibly hard thing for some nursing home residents to accept. Many people who eventually need to relocate to a long-term care facility led vibrant, independent lives before being weakened by age, injury, or illness. This is why it is vital that nursing home staff treat residents with respect and dignity. Sadly, some staff may make fun of residents or mock them as amusement. Staff may be making what they think are private jokes among themselves at the resident’s expense, but the resident hears the ridicule. Unscrupulous staff may consider this behavior harmless, but in reality, mocking, jeering, and poking fun at residents in a type of emotional abuse.

Threatening a Resident

Admittedly, being a caretaker of elderly and sometimes cognitively-challenged nursing home residents is a challenging job. Sometimes residents refuse to eat meals, shower, or take their medicine. While this is understandably frustrating, staff resorting to making threats against a resident is deplorable and abusive. If you have a loved one in a nursing home who shows fear, apprehension, or suddenly becomes quiet around certain staff members, this may be a sign the staff is mistreating him or her.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysIt can be extremely disheartening to read about case after case of nursing home abuse and neglect. Some of the stories are mostly sad, while others are downright horrific. Even worse is the idea that only about one in 14 cases of elder abuse—including nursing home abuse—are actually reported. This means that the stories we hear about are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  

If you have a loved one who requires the type of care that is only offered in a nursing home, you may be wondering how you can prevent the unthinkable from happening to him or her. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to minimize the risks.

Do Your Homework

Perhaps the most important way to protect your loved one from abuse or neglect in a nursing home is to educate yourself on the quality of the homes that you are considering. Keep in mind that “educating yourself” means more than a cursory Google search or simply looking at how many stars a particular facility received. Recently, both the Department of Veterans Affairs and Medicare have been forced to take a new look at their respective quality rating systems, which means that it is difficult to trust even a full five-star rating.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneyWhen you decide to place your loved one in a long-term care facility such as a nursing home, you trust that the staff employed in that facility have the residents’ best interest at heart. Unfortunately, just like in any other profession, some nursing home staff simply do not have their hearts in the job. Even worse, some nursing home staff actually openly ridicule or mock nursing home residents. Cruel treatment can tragically go undetected when patients suffer from debilitating illnesses and cannot report inappropriate staff behavior.

Hospice Workers Share Sick Video of Dying Woman

Three employees at an assisted living center in Georgia have been arrested after their cruel Snapchat video was discovered by authorities. The employees—three women aged 19-21—were watching over a resident who had recently suffered a stroke until the hospice nurse could arrive. During that time, they decided to create and share a video of themselves smoking a vape pen, making obscene gestures, and cursing–all while the elderly resident lay dying in the background. The shockingly callous and invasive video was titled “The End.” Local authorities charged the three young women with exploiting an elderly and disabled person, and all three have been fired from their positions at the assisted living facility.

The New York State Department of Health is also currently investigating a possible violation of residents’ rights by nursing home staff members’ use of Snapchat. The state received reports of staff members taking photos of residents in a Western New York nursing home and posting them on social media. The nursing home in question said that individuals involved were fired and that it will implement further staff training to prevent future violations.

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneyDid you know that laws exist to define and protect the rights guaranteed to people in a nursing home? The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act was created with the explicit purpose of protecting the sick and elderly from receiving less than adequate care while living in a skilled nursing facility. The statute confirms that nursing home residents have every right that all Illinois citizens have and cannot be denied any of those rights while staying in a nursing home. The Act also establishes more specific guidelines and boundaries to which Illinois nursing homes must adhere.

If you have a loved one who is currently residing in a nursing home, it is important to know and understand the rights that he or she has.

Residents Have the Right to Be Free from Neglect and Abuse

In general, nursing home residents have the right to be free from abuse or neglect. Additionally, nursing home residents have the right to:

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Chicago nursing home abuse attorneysSometimes, a nursing home resident needs to be retrained in some way. In some cases, confusion or aggression related to a mental illness or dementia can make a nursing home resident act out in ways that could hurt another resident, a staff member, or themselves. In other situations, patients must be secured so that they do not hurt themselves while waking up from surgery or when recovering from certain medical procedures. It is understandable that doctors, nurses, and other staff have means to control residents who are acting dangerously, but too often, unfortunately, restraints do more damage than they prevent.

Physical Restraints Which Inhibit Movement

It is often necessary for nursing home staff to limit a resident’s movement. In order to do this, they may use physical restraints such as straps, belts, vests, limb ties, wheelchair brakes, and bedside rails. The misuse or overuse of restraints such as these can cause nursing home residents to suffer injuries such as:

  • Diminished muscle strength and balance;
  • Bruises and cuts;
  • Urinary incontinence;
  • Constipation;
  • Decubitus ulcers, also called bedsores;
  • Respiratory complications;
  • Malnutrition;
  • Reduced cardiovascular endurance; and
  • Feelings of agitation, depression, anxiety, and helplessness.

If you a loved one has suffered one of these injuries after being restrained by nursing home employees, you may have a valid personal injury case.

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