Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes: Continuously Threatening the Well-being of Senior Residents

According to the American Association for Justice, about 90% of nursing home facilities do not have enough qualified nurses and trained personnel who can provide residents with the quality care they need and which these very nursing facilities actually advertise and promise.

Nursing home facilities, also called Skilled Nursing Facility, Nursing Center, Convalescent Care or Long Term Care Facility, are designed for those who require round the clock custodial and skilled nursing care; these include adults (usually those aged 65 and above), physically or mentally incapacitated individuals, people who are ill and in need of rehabilitative therapy, and those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Since these individuals are no longer capable of performing even the basic activities in daily living, trained facility staff members are tasked to provide them custodial care, which includes feeding, bathing, dressing and toileting.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of February of 2015, about 1.4 million residents are housed in 15,700 nursing homes facilities located in different parts of the US. Despite the need to house their elder loved one in a nursing home and despite the thousands of nursing facilities in each state, though, many families are unsure about which facility they should actually choose due to the widespread cases of neglect and abuse that cause residents more suffering, including physical injuries, emotional trauma, humiliation, self-pity, hatred, despair, and so forth.

In a study conducted by a staff from the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, it is shown that from January 1999 to January 2001, 9,000 instances of abuse in 5,283 nursing home facilities were committed. Some of these abuses or lack of care included inadequate medical care, inadequate sanitation and hygiene, and acts that resulted to dehydration, untreated bedsores, preventable accidents, and malnutrition. But besides physical abuse, residents were also subjected to other forms of unjust treatments, including financial abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse and, the most degrading of all, sexual abuse.

Despite the Nursing Home Reform Act that was enacted by the US Congress in 1987, which mandated the provision of services and activities that are gird towards the attainment or maintenance of the “highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care,” nursing home abuses and acts of neglect still continue to happen.

An abuse, as defined under Federal nursing home regulations, is any form of act that results to intimidation, unreasonable confinement, physical harm and/or mental anguish, and which purposely inflicts injury, or deprives care or service. Neglect, on the other hand, refers to any form of failure to provide a resident with the required care and service that will ensure ease of pain or freedom from harm, or failure to assist a resident during potentially dangerous situations which may result to harm or anxiety. Acts of neglect may by intentional or non-intentional.

According to the website of the Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg law firm, a family that entrusts its loved one to a nursing facility has every reason to believe that he or she would only be treated with dignity and compassion throughout the duration of his or her stay. Failure to provide this dignified and compassionate treatment, which nursing homes promise to provide, much more subject an elder resident to abusive and neglectful treatment, gives the resident and his or her family the right to take action against the guilty party to hold them responsible.

read more