What to Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

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Sponsored by: Joye Law Firm Family members make a tough decision when they put a loved one in nursing home care. They do their research, visit facilities and select a home where they believe the residents are safe and happy. Families put their complete trust in a nursing home with the expectation of high-quality care. So what happens when that care falls short?

A minor issue that happens on a rare occasion – such as a soiled garment or lunch delivered 5 minutes behind schedule – don’t necessarily signal neglect. But repeated signs of physical or emotional abuse should be taken very seriously. It’s not uncommon for elderly people to bruise more easily, sometimes as a side effect of certain medications. Loved ones, though, should pay close attention to regular bruising, cuts or other signs of physical injury. And if staff members can’t explain what happened, that should be a red flag. Pay attention to signs of emotional abuse, such as changes in your loved one’s personality. Has your typically outgoing mother withdrawn to her room? Does your grandfather react negatively when a particular staff member is mentioned or comes into the room? All these may be signs of nursing home abuse, and family members do have options for holding a facility accountable for such wrongdoing.

In South Carolina, nursing home residents have specific rights and protections under federal and state government. Laws include the federal Nursing Home Reform Law and the Older Americans Act along with the S.C. Omnibus Adult Protection Act. The law requires anyone who knows of the abuse or neglect of an elderly person to report it to authorities. State officials have the authority to investigate complaints about nursing home abuse and neglect. If they find problems, they can bring civil prosecution and fines. The Omnibus Adult Protection Act in South Carolina establishes a Vulnerable Adults Investigations Unit of the S.C. Law Enforcement Division to investigate criminal complaints. The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program – under the auspices of the S.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging – investigates noncriminal complaints. In terms of federal oversight, the Nursing Home Reform Law guarantees a number of rights for nursing home residents, including “the right to complain without fear of reprisal and to receive prompt response by the nursing home’s staff toward resolving such grievances, and to complain to the long-term care ombudsman program or nursing home certification agency.” Family members should be fully aware they have a right to ask questions and receive both prompt and satisfying answers.

Yet, despite those legal protections, government agencies are often slow to react. And nursing home abuse is often hidden behind excuses and paperwork. If you’re not getting the quick response you need, it may be necessary to contact a law firm with experience in nursing home abuse cases. Your family member’s safety and well being should be a priority to all nursing home facilities, but that’s not always the case. So it’s important for families to understand they have rights and legal recourse. If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of abuse or neglect at a South Carolina nursing home, turn to experienced attorneys like the team at Joye Law Firm. Since 1968, they have helped injured people recover not just the money they are entitled to, but also their lives.

To learn how Joye Law can help you, visit JoyeLawFirm.com or call (843) 507-4959.