Over 40% of all nursing home residents have reported being abused, and over 90% have reported being neglected. Obviously, these are staggering numbers, and it is crucial to know the signs of nursing home abuse and negligence so you can protect the elders in your life. Consider this brief overview of what to do if you suspect nursing home abuse.
Talk to the Victim
The elderly are among the most vulnerable members of society, so it is imperative to intervene immediately if nursing home abuse is suspected. You could very well be saving a life. The first step is to talk to the victim and take careful notes of what they report. Some may be reluctant to talk or give details, but let them know that they are safe talking with you about what they’ve experienced. Assure them that their well-being is your highest priority. If the victim is unable to discuss the matter, or simply too frightened, go directly to the next step.
Report Your Concerns to the Administration
If at all possible, take your concerns directly to the nursing home administration. Most facilities have a protocol in place for addressing abuse and neglect issues. Work with the administration to resolve the matter through their internal channels first. But it’s important to note that this option may not always be available. If you discover the abuse during a time of day when no administrative staff members are on duty, talk to a nurse or senior-level caregiver who you feel you can trust. If the internal channels the facility provides are taking too long or coming up with no satisfying conclusions, it’s time to proceed to the next step. In any situation where the resident’s life is in imminent danger, contact the police.
Call Your State Agency
Every state has a department that handles elder affairs, such as an adult protective services unit. Call your state’s agency to file a formal complaint. In New Mexico, such issues are handled by the New Mexico Department of Health; they can be reached at (800) 752-8649. The office will walk you through the process of lodging an official grievance, which in turn will initiate an investigation of the abuse claims.
Hire an Attorney
During any of the above steps, bringing in the help of a nursing home lawyer can be beneficial. Not only will an attorney serve as your legal advocate, but they can often streamline the grievance process and get answers to your most pressing concerns. A lawyer will also advise you on how to effectively safeguard your loved one, as well as provide options that might be available for finding them a safe space to live and thrive.
Attorney Frank Balderrama of the Balderrama Law Firm, LLC, in Carlsbad, NM, will help you fight for the rights and safety of your elderly loved one. For over 10 years, he has been representing clients in nursing home abuse, personal injury, and wrongful death matters. Call (575) 234-1111 or visit his website to set up a free case evaluation today.