Nursing homes are supposed to be safe environments where elderly Floridians can live in security and dignity, but too often that’s not the case. In fact, Florida’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program reported over 7,500 complaints concerning residents living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and adult family-care homes.
Due to the breadth of the problem, federal and state laws create protections for nursing home residents, who are easily abused or neglected. Florida law sets standards for nursing homes, including residents’ rights with a goal of ensuring residents enjoy adequate care. Most importantly, it provides for claims against nursing homes when a resident’s rights are violated or when they are injured.
So to help ensure that your loved ones are being treated with dignity and care, here are some steps to follow if you suspect nursing home abuse.
What to do if you Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
- Be calm. When you first suspect or notice signs that your loved one is being mistreated the best thing to do is to keep your composure.If there is clear-cut abuse, or if you have reason to believe a nursing home resident is in imminent danger of harm, call the police immediately. At the very least, you should be asked to file a complaint. In some cases, police may need to intervene to ensure the safety of nursing home residents.
- Take Notes. Ask your loved one how they are being treated privately. Be aware that those in nursing home care may be reluctant to speak out about abuse for a number of reasons, ranging from fear to simply not wanting to worry you. Make sure to take notes on their story as well as document other things that lead you to believe abuse might be occurring. Many pieces of evidence, such as bruises, sores, or legions might be time sensitive, so you want to make sure they are documented.
- Speak to the Staff. Before jumping to conclusions, hear out the reasons behind your concerns. Ask your questions about what you have noticed. What you may have suspected as foul treatment might not have been. Nursing home management should be willing and able to explain any situation you see as possible abuse or neglect. If they are unable or unwilling to explain the situation satisfactorily, you will want to look into more formal action.
- Report it. Report all suspected elder abuse or neglect. Each state has some form of protective services for adults. If you are not sure who to contact in your state, call the National Center on Elder Abuse at 1-800-677-1116. In addition, each nursing home must publicly post the name and telephone number of the local Ombudsman.
- Consult a lawyer. If a nursing home resident or your loved one is being abused or neglected, he or she is entitled to protection. He may also be entitled to compensation under the law. Depending on your relationship to him or her, you may also be entitled to compensation as well.
By contacting a nursing home neglect attorney at Ligori & Sanders, Attorneys at Law, you can find out what legal rights you have. There are many options available in taking legal action against the facility or caregiver responsible for the neglect or abuse. We offer a free consultation to help you get started. We happily represent clients throughout Hillsborough County and the surrounding areas from our offices in Tampa, Florida.
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