Elder care facilities like nursing homes will make excuses for the neglect or abuse of their residents is accused.
Americans are growing older.
Today, Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) remain the largest living adult generation in the United States and the youngest members are already over 50 years old. Interestingly, it is the Millennial generation (born 1981-1996) that is expected to overtake Boomers in population by 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Generation X (born 1965-1980) is projected to pass the Baby Boomer generation in population by 2028.
Still, more people over the age of 65 than ever before depend on others for basic human needs like bathing, dressing, eating and physically moving. The most rapidly growing segment of the population is aged 85 or older. Research suggests that the 2.5 million individuals living under care in nursing homes, personal care homes, adult congregate living facilities and assisted living facilities are at a much higher risk of abuse and neglect than older persons who live at home. In an era when so many depend on the kindness of strangers in their daily lives, it is disheartening to discover more than one million incidents of elder abuse are reported in nursing homes each year.
We Need A Better Definition of Elder Abuse
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), because elder abuse is:
- poorly or imprecisely defined
- defined specifically to reflect the unique statutes or conditions present in specific locations (e.g., states, counties or cities) or
- defined specifically for research purposes
a set of universally accepted definitions does not exist, which can be used to:
- monitor the incidence of elder abuse
- examine trends over time
- determine the magnitude of elder abuse
- enable comparisons of the problem across locations
- inform prevention and intervention efforts
However, the most common cause of elder abuse is neglect and abuse in nursing homes – and these are very well-defined.
Nursing Home Neglect
The definition of nursing home neglect is negligence on the part of a caregiver who is indifferent to the health and well-being of the person for whom they are caring. Typically, the main cause of nursing home neglect is the result of understaffing rather than intention. A nursing home without the adequate number of caregivers cannot provide each resident with a proper level of care. A facility that is negligent can be named the cause of resident injuries resulting from this neglect.
Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse is defined as the intentional infliction of harm from a caregiver that results in physical or mental injury, pain or disability of a resident. Nursing home abuse typically falls into three categories: Physical abuse, mental and emotional abuse, and sexual abuse.
- Physical Abuse – Nursing home physical abuse includes any kind of assault or battery on a resident that results in bed sores, bruising, untreated infections or broken bones. This type of abuse can come from family members or nursing home staff and typically is the result of understaffing, emotional distress or personal problems.
- Mental and Emotional Abuse – Nursing home mental and emotional abuse is more difficult to detect since no physical signs of the abuse may exist. Examples of this abuse include yelling at, belittling, embarrassing or threatening the resident in any way. This type of abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. Caregivers who engage in mental and emotional abuse usually isolate the resident from friends and family while ignoring the wants and needs of the resident.
- Sexual Abuse – Nursing home abuse includes sexual attacks and engaging in sexual behavior with a resident without their consent, which can lead to both physical and emotional injury to the resident in the perpetrator’s care.
Why Nursing Homes Make Excuses When Accused of Elder Abuse
It’s simple. Both the management and staff of elder care facilities like nursing homes, personal care homes, adult congregate living facilities, assisted living facilities and even in-home caregivers make excuses when accused of elder abuse or neglect to defend themselves, regardless of wrongdoing – and especially in light of a lawsuit. The most common excuses include:
- The injury was unavoidable because we can’t watch residents 24 hours a day.
It is the job of a nursing home to provide care and protection 24 hours a day. Most injuries should be avoidable if a nursing home is properly staffed with competent caregivers.
- Other health issues are the actual cause of the injury in question.
While it is true that residents can have a variety of health issues, it is the responsibility of an elder care facility to be aware of all issues and any resulting complications for each resident. It is imperative for any nursing home to have a plan in place for the proper assessment of residents and implement personalized care plans developed in cooperation with family members. A detailed care plan should cover all known health issues and possible complications.
- I don’t recall.
It is common for faulty caregivers to claim they have no recollection of how an injury occurred. This unacceptable excuse is the result of a caregiver having inadequate knowledge of the resident in their care and improperly implementing a personalized care plan.
- The chart didn’t show a record of being in pain.
There is a difference between a resident not being in pain, and pain not being recorded. Sometimes residents are unable to communicate that they are experiencing pain due to mental or physical limitations.
- We administered care; it just wasn’t documented.
Proper documentation is the cornerstone of proper care. It allows for communication about treatments and responses to those treatments. Poor documentation is negligent and doesn’t not hold up to the standard of treatment and the law.
- We did not have the capacity to give proper care.
While this statement may be true, it is an unacceptable excuse. It is an admission that a facility has failed to properly staff and train enough caregivers to meet the needs of the number of residents. By placing the blame elsewhere, an elder care facility is denying the responsibility of providing care at an expected standard.
Many nursing homes and other elder care facilities also defend themselves by admitting they only use their policies and procedures as guidelines for proper care of residents. However, a much stricter interpretation of the rules is necessary for a nursing home to provide proper care, including a tighter system governing the activities of caregivers and clearly defined methods of taking care of residents that avoid injury.
Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys
If you or someone you love has been harmed in a nursing home or other elder care facility, talk with the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. We are experts in injury law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.