Elder Abuse at Nursing Homes is Prevalent in California and You do Have Legal Recourse
As your loved ones get older, and you find yourself constrained by the demands of daily life, it can be a true godsend to have a nursing home help ensure their wellbeing. The goal of the nursing home is that it will be a place where trained professionals can give them a level of care which you can’t easily provide. This makes it especially devastating when you find out that the facility in which they are now living has violated your trust in them and is treating your loved ones poorly. If you or someone you love may have suffered neglect or abuse at a nursing home, it’s important that you know what the signs are and what legal recourse you have.
Nursing home abuse is not limited to just physical abuse, but can also entail financial or emotional abuse. Physical abuse can be the most obvious type (and studies show it is one of the most common), and it occurs when staff at the nursing home use force which was not accidental on a person in their care resulting in some injury (pain, physical impairment, even serious injury). This includes actions like the improper use of medication to sedate or punish an individual in their care, the withholding of food, and even unnecessary restraints being used. The elderly often have a difficult time speaking out, so being involved in their doctor appointments, and checking in on them in order to observe their wellbeing are good ways to be aware of the physical signs of this kind of abuse and catch it early.
The other most common form of abuse at nursing homes is financial. It generally entails the use of staff’s positions of authority over the people in their care to extort money directly from them or otherwise gain access to their finances and use that access for their own personal gain. This can be camouflaged through claims by the staff that the activity is legitimate payment for services or otherwise necessary for their care at the facility. Because it can be hidden in this way, it is vitally important to review your loved one’s finances if you think they are abnormally short of money or have difficulty explaining where their money is going or what they are being charged for at the nursing home. It is also important to get a clear and itemized breakdown from the facility of all the charges for your loved one’s care.
Lastly, there is emotional abuse, which can be the most difficult to detect and yet no less damaging. It includes verbal abuse, isolation of the individual from other residents at the nursing home, or manipulative interactions between them and staff that produce within the recipient distress, anxiety, or fear. To diagnose this type of abuse, it is best to talk to your loved ones in private about their experiences at the facility so that they have a safe outlet to bring up any maltreatment without any staff present who might intimidate them to remain silent about the abuse out of fear of retaliation. In addition, connecting them with a therapist/counselor who is independent of the facility can serve the same function.
Ever since 2016 regulations now prohibit nursing homes from requiring that patients sign arbitration agreements in order for them to be admitted to the facility. This is important as those agreements force patients (often unwittingly) to send any grievances they have about their care to arbitration (which is a process that tends to favor businesses over consumers). What this means it that you can absolutely take nursing homes to court in cases of abuse and may well be entitled to compensation for any harm done by the facility.
In addition, California has regulations about medical treatment, quality of food, and personnel requirements at all nursing homes. Despite this, every year new cases of elder abuse surface at nursing homes across the state. Knowing when actions by staff at a nursing home have risen to the level of legal action can be difficult. This is why it is so important to contact a skilled attorney immediately if you have any indication that your loved ones are being mistreated at a nursing home.
For over 30 years Slatter Law Firm has been that skilled attorney. We know the steps to take, and will be there to look after the interests of your loved ones when a nursing home fails to. As a boutique firm, when you call Slatter Law you can speak to real attorneys (not just their secretaries) and even a founding partner -giving you real access to real legal advice when you need it. If you think your loved ones may have been mistreated at a nursing home, please call us today for your free consultation at (310) 444-3010 or toll-free at (888) 293-0404.