Think your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse? Here’s what to do
Nursing home residents ought to receive excellent care and not suffer from abuse. For those living in these facilities and their loved ones, abuse can cause great stress and anxiety; especially if you feel like you have no options to pursue justice.
Common types of nursing home abuse include:
- Physical assault
- Sexual assault
- Physical or medical neglect
- Financial or material theft/manipulation
- Verbal, emotional, or mental abuse
Fortunately, with the right attorney at your side, you can start on the path to obtaining the justice you are looking for. If you suspect a family member is suffering from nursing home abuse, here are the steps you should take:
Calmly investigate the Situation
Though the idea of a nursing home abusing your loved one will understandably cause you distress, remember to remain calm while you are at the facility and conducting your investigation. Avoid losing your temper and keep a cool head in front of both the staff and the person you are investigating on behalf of.
Do not tell the nursing home you are considering pressing charges
When you are visiting the person you suspect is a victim of nursing home abuse, do not tell the staff that you are investigating them for a potential lawsuit. This information could motivate them to act differently around you or manipulate and destroy documents to hide any evidence. Instead, act as if you are visiting your loved one in a completely casual manner.
Learn the recording laws in your state
Before you speak to any residents or staff at the nursing home, it is important to know the recording consent laws in your state. Some states are one-party consent states where the consent of only one person in the conversation is required. In all-party states, everyone involved in the conversation must be notified and consent to the recording. If you admit a one-party consented recording in an all-party state, your evidence may not be considered admissible in court.
States that allow one-party consent include the following:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas
Colorado, District of Colombia, Georgia, Hawaii
Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana
Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska
New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota
Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota
Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
States that require all-party consent include:
California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois
Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada
New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington
During your investigation, ask detailed and specific questions to your loved one, any other cooperating residents, and the nursing home staff. If possible, speak with the residents in private if you think they are afraid a suspected abuser might overhear your conversation.
When speaking to your loved one about nursing home abuse.
Ask your loved one detailed questions about their account of abuse. As you listen to their answers, record your conversation (after obtaining their consent, if required) and take any pictures or videos that you think will help provide further evidence.
Interviewing other residents
If you learn that another resident has witnessed or experienced similar abuse to the maltreatment your loved one has gone through, you should ask to speak with them as well. In this case, again, you should try to speak to them privately if you are able to. Ask them for their account of the incident, record their conversation (again, obtain consent if your state mandates it), and jot down any important notes.
Speaking with staff members
Though you may find it difficult to remain rational and calm when speaking with individuals you suspect may be abusing residents at the nursing home, it is important to remain level-headed when speaking to staff. Care organizations with excellent reputations for service quality should have no problem speaking of their operations and may show you some details that credibly contradict claims of abuse. Conversely, a staff member who has witnessed abuse at the facility may also decide to share their account with you if they disagree with the treatment of the residents.
Take detailed notes
As you are investigating the situation, write down as many detailed notes as possible. Bring a camera or smartphone with you to take pictures and videos of anything that you think will better support your case. If you think it should be included in your collection of evidence, include it. It is always better to present an attorney with more information than less.
When encountering a crisis situation
Have you encountered an active instance of abuse or another type of crisis situation upon visiting the nursing home? Did your loved one contact you in distress? If you believe there’s an emergency happening at the facility, do not hesitate to contact the authorities by dialing 9-1-1 or by calling the National Center on Elder Abuse at 1-800-677-1116 and reporting the instance.
Additionally, all nursing homes are required to publicly list the contact information for their Ombudsman at the facility. This person is tasked with investigating all claims of abuse or neglect at the nursing home. Contact this individual if you would like them to conduct an internal inquiry.
Think you have a case for nursing home abuse? Contact An attorney immediately
If you suspect or have evidence that a nursing home is abusing your loved one, contact an attorney to review your options and see what kind of compensation you are legally entitled to pursue. Many nursing homes hire well-paid legal representation to avoid liability, and you will need an experienced attorney to represent you as you seek justice.
If you are in the Delaware area and would like to speak to one of our attorneys about nursing home abuse, please contact us anytime.