Visiting of relatives in nursing home typically increases around the holidays, especially between Christmas and New Year's. It is very important that the nursing home resident's family pays close attention when visiting the nursing home to make sure that their loved one is receiving adequate care from the nursing staff. A large majority of nursing home residents suffer from dementia, hearing loss, speech and comprehension issues, memory loss or other medical ailments which makes it difficult for them to express to family members that they are being neglected or otherwise mistreated. Paying attention to the following signs, amongst others, may reveal mistreatment and/or neglect in the nursing home:
Poor personal hygiene: As many nursing home residents are unable to properly care for themselves, nurses and aides are expected to assist with personal hygiene, including teeth brushing, bathing, nail clipping, hair brushing, etc. However, many nursing homes lack the proper amount of nursing staff members to adequately perform these tasks. Pay close attention to signs of poor hygiene as this may be an indication of negligent care.
Unexplained fractures or other injuries: When you loved one is found" in bed to have broken bones, hip or femur fractures, head injuries, or other substantial injuries, and the nursing home has no explanation for the cause of the injuries, this is a great cause for concern. Over years and years of handling nursing home abuse, neglect and mistreatment cases, the sad reality is that there are many instances where a resident falls in a nursing home and sustains a fracture or other substantial injury, and the nursing staff fails to report the incident or otherwise alert higher-ups at the home. The staff members on the next shift then "find" the resident laying in bed with a catastrophic injury and have no idea how it happened. We have seen many cases where the nursing home doctor then reports that the resident must have sustained a "pathological" fracture, or that the bone simply fractured on its own due to old age or other medical conditions. This has become a common defense for nursing homes in fall/accident lawsuits. Such instances of unexplained fractures must be reported to the New York State Department of Health.
Falls: On admission to a nursing home, the staff must conduct an assessment to determine whether your loved one is at risk for falling. If your loved one is at risk for falling, then the nursing is required to put into place appropriate interventions to lessen the risk of falling. These may include, just for example, orient resident to their surroundings and assigned staff, check lighting is adequate for safe environment, non-slip footwear, call bell within reach, bed at lowest position and wheels locked, ambulate resident as frequently as appropriate, two hour comfort and toileting rounds (this may include positioning, offering snacks, ensuring warmth, ambulating, etc., personal bed or chair alarm, move resident closer to nursing station as available, bedside mat on floor, amongst others. If your loved one complains that they wait too long a time when calling for assistance, if they have to get up on their own to go to the bathroom, or if they sustain many falls, this could be a sign of understaffing or neglect.
Bed sores: Also known as pressure sores, pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers, bed sores can consist of breakdown of the skin layers, tissue, muscle and bone, caused by prolonged pressure to one part of the body. A major cause of bed sores is the nursing home staff's failure to turn and reposition a resident at least every two hours. Residents with limited mobility are often unable to change their body position or readjust without assistance from the staff. However, if a nursing home does not have sufficient staff, its is often impossible to turn and position.
These are just some of the many warning signs of abuse or neglect in a nursing home.
If you, a family member or a friend have been injured due to the neglect of others in a New York nursing home, call Leitner Varughese at (855) LV LAW NY (855-585-2969), or visit our website at http://www.lvlawny.com.