Nursing Home Health Care Advocate Resources
Placing a loved one inside a nursing home can be a difficult experience for all involved. They may be giving up their long-time residence to move to someplace new and unfamiliar, as well as sacrificing their independence to get the help they need to complete daily personal tasks. They may not wish to go, even though their condition warrants around-the-clock supervision that you or other family members simply can’t provide. There are financial considerations, dealing with insurance or programs like Medicaid or Medicare to cover costs, dealing with disposing of a family home or personal effects, and trying to find the right senior care facility to meet your loved one’s needs.
You and your family have enough to worry about without the threat of abuse at nursing homes.
If you have a loved one inside a nursing home that you believe may be suffering from abuse, there are actions you can take to prevent it. Read on to find out more. And contact the Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC at (312) 346-8620 when you’re ready to take legal action.
How Can I Stop or Prevent Nursing Home Abuse?
Although it may be hard to believe, nursing home abuse is a substantial problem, and it’s something you should investigate before placing any loved one inside a senior care facility. A report from the World Health Organization states that almost 16% of people ages 60 or older suffered some form of abuse in a facility environment, and that almost 65% of staff at senior care facilities admit to abusing residents in some form in the last year.
If you believe your loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse, there are steps you can take to stop it and people who can help. First, let’s discuss the methods to help prevent abuse before it begins, and then we’ll talk about what to do if you find signs of abuse inside your loved one’s facility.
- Do Your Research: Prevention starts at the outset. Before you commit a loved one to the care of any facility, do your research. Visit several possible candidates and get your own idea of the level and quality of care they provide. Check for red flags that may indicate possible abuse, such as:
- Does the facility have any record of abuse?
- Does the staff appear overworked?
- Is there a high turnover rate?
- Do the residents appear healthy?
- Does the facility appear clean and well looked after?
- Be A Good Advocate: Staying involved in the life of your loved one after they’ve entered the facility is key. Call them regularly, attend family events hosted by the facility, visit often, and speak to other residents about their time there. Being present and vigilant can prevent abuse from ever starting.
- Get To Know The Staff: Introduce yourself to the staff and administrators. Ask questions about their daily operations. If you have concerns that a particular staff member may have a high risk for abusing an elder, tell the facility ombudsman immediately.
- Know The Signs: Look for signs of abuse at every visit. Signs of elder abuse can include the following:
- Injuries, such as bruises, cuts, or broken bones
- Malnourishment or excessive weight loss
- Anxiety or depression
- Poor hygiene
- Withdrawal from friends or family
If you notice possible signs of abuse at a nursing home, there are individuals and organizations that can help stop it. Here are some people you can talk to if you have concerns about abuse inside your loved one’s care facility:
- Ombudsman: A nursing home ombudsman serves as a citizen’s or patient’s representative inside a care facility. They can be a paid staff member or volunteer, and they are the first person you should go to if you have a complaint and the care center staff or administrators do not address it. An ombudsman helps maintain the health, safety and welfare of residents inside a care facility by acting as an advocate for elders and their families. They resolve complaints, listen to residents’ concerns, advocate for elder rights, and educate about care practices. They also help investigate reports of abuse. When you choose a nursing home for your loved one, make sure they have an ombudsman on staff and that you know how to contact them.
- Patient Advocate: A patient advocate serves almost the same purpose as an ombudsman, but for an individual instead of for an entire care facility. A patient advocate is a care professional, usually with a medical background, that oversees the care given to an elder in or outside of a care facility. They help explain medical procedures, discuss options for care, and act as go-between for the elder and their caregivers. A patient advocate can be the first line of defense for stopping nursing home abuse.
- Family Councils: A family council is a group of family members that all have loved ones under the care of a particular facility. They act as a support group and forum for discussion about events inside the facility, as well as a unified voice for communicating concerns about the level of care for the residents.
If you have evidence of abuse inside a nursing home and you’re not getting the response you need, here are some organizations that can take concrete action to stop it:
- Adult Protective Services: The National Adult Protective Services Association is a nonprofit group founded in 1989 to provide information on APS programs in all fifty states. They promote, educate, and advocate for protecting vulnerable elders in care facilities across the country. They serve as first responders in cases of abuse and neglect and assist in reporting and stopping elder abuse.
- National Council on Elder Abuse: The National Council on Elder Abuse is part of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Administration for Community Living. They provide information and resources on preventing elder abuse and can direct family members of nursing home residents to resources on how to report abuse and prevent it from occurring.
- Illinois Department of Human Services: IDHS has provided Illinois residents with equitable, streamlined access to health and social service programs since 1997.
- Illinois Department of Public Health: Illinois Department of Public Health handles regulation, inspections and complaints for over 1,200 nursing and elder care facilities statewide. They have a 24 hour Nursing Home Hotline for reporting abuse (800-252-4343) that responds to over 5,000 complaints a year.
If you suspect your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, your first obligation is to make sure they’re safe, either by moving them to a different facility or by seeing that the abuser is stopped. Once you’ve done that, contact the compassionate nursing home abuse attorneys of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC at (312) 346-8620 for a free consultation about how you can obtain compensation for the suffering your loved one endured in a facility where they should have been cared for.