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Nursing Home Abuse / 10.18.2019

Nursing Home Nightmare: What Should I Do if I Suspect My Loved One is Being Abused?

Understanding the Systemic Problem

There are hundreds of licensed nursing homes and assisted living facilities scattered throughout Mississippi. Families rely on the employees at these facilities to provide their loved ones with life-saving medical services, essential custodial care services, and vital social opportunities. Unfortunately, the industry took a dive after private investment companies purchased several facilities – about 70% of all nursing homes in the country – and turned them into for-profit businesses.

Under the new system, managers are pressured to understaff facilities and cut “unnecessary” expenses, which has resulted in incalculable medication errors, negligence-based injuries, and serious quality of care deficiencies – all in the name of corporate profit. Plus, it’s difficult for these facilities to find and retain experienced employees because the working conditions and pay are terrible. As a result, negligent, inexperienced, fatigued, and overwhelmed nurses are caring for your loved one.

Nursing Homes in Mississippi

According to Nursing Home Abuse Justice, an organization that is committed to exposing abuse and neglect in nursing homes, “as many as 24.3% of residents experienced at least one instance of physical abuse while in a nursing home.” But elder abuse isn’t limited to acts of physical violence; it also encompasses general neglect, psychological abuse, and financial exploitation.

In fact, the National Center for Victims of Crime breaks down elder abuse complaints into the following categories:

  • Physical abuse: 24.7%
    • Intentionally hitting, pushing, or tripping a resident.
    • Threatening to physically assault a resident as a form of punishment.
    • Improperly restraining a resident.
  • Resident-on-resident abuse (physical and/or sexual): 22.1%
    • Allowing a resident to physically and/or sexually assault another resident.
  • Psychological abuse: 19.4%
    • Insulting, humiliating, or ridiculing a resident.
    • Isolating a resident as a method of punishment.
    • Gaslighting and/or manipulating a resident.
    • Threatening or intimidating a resident for personal gain.
  • General neglect: 15.3%
    • Failing to provide prescribed medications and treatment options.
    • Allowing the resident to live in unhygienic and dangerous conditions.
    • Ignoring the perceptible signs of potential health complications.
    • Failing to prevent life-threatening falls.
    • Allowing pressure injuries (bed sores) to develop on the resident’s body.
  • Financial exploitation: 7.9%
    • Tricking a resident into updating their estate plan.
    • Stealing and/or using a resident’s credit cards or checkbook for personal gain.
    • Manipulating a resident into transferring financial assets or property.
    • Identity theft.
  • Sexual abuse (facility employee-on-resident): 7.9%

What’s truly alarming is that over 50% of nursing home staff have admitted to some form of abuse in confidential studies and surveys. Recently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a list of 400 nursing homes – the worst of the worst – that are frequently cited for safety violations and quality of care deficiencies. This list includes 6 Mississippi facilities that are eligible for participation in the Special Focus Facility Initiative, a CMS program that utilizes civil monetary penalties to encourage quality of care improvements.

The following Mississippi nursing homes are considered Special Focus Facilities:

  • Woodland Village Nursing Center
  • Diversicare of Southaven
  • Ms Care Center of Greenville
  • Aurora Health and Rehabilitation
  • Walter B Crook Nursing Facility
  • Meridian Comm Living Center

What Should I Do?

Family members often struggle to recognize the physical and emotional signs of nursing home abuse. We want to trust that the facility employees are “experts” who would never let anything preventable happen to our loved ones. But employees and facilities go out of their way to hide the truth, especially if it could result in civil litigation. This includes manipulating, gaslighting, and pressuring residents to lie to their friends and family.

Trust your instincts, especially if your loved one lacks the mobility or cognitive awareness to fight acts of abuse and neglect. In most cases, a concerned family member’s suspicions are not unfounded. You can take the following steps to collect evidence and remove your loved one from a dangerous situation:

  • Visit the facility often and at unscheduled times to check-in on your elderly loved one.
  • Meet the employees who are responsible for your loved one’s care.
  • Listen to your loved one’s fears, experiences, and concerns.
  • Keep an ongoing record of noticeable issues and questionable injuries.
  • Take pictures of wounds, facility conditions, and other visible problems.
  • Talk to other residents about the facility and listen to their stories.
  • Meet with other visiting families to share your concerns.
  • Contact other facilities and ask questions; this can help you make quality determinations.
  • Report suspected acts of abuse to Adult Protective Services.
  • Report confirmed acts of abuse to the police and Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
  • Contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Ready to Pursue Justice?

Contact the nursing home abuse attorneys at Richard Schwartz & Associates Injury Lawyer, P.A. if your loved one has been harmed or neglected by facility staffers. Our experienced legal team can meticulously investigate the facility, consult with specialists, and employ a customized litigation strategy that holds the facility accountable for acts of misconduct and malpractice.

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