Choosing to move an elderly loved one into a nursing home can be a difficult decision. Guilt can weigh heavily on your shoulders, even if the move is what is best for them and for you. You want to ensure that they are treated well and cared for. So when a nursing home’s staff lets you down, and your loved one is injured as a result of their actions, it can weigh heavily on your shoulders.
The actions of staff in the nursing home are not your fault. But now that they’ve taken place, you need to do right by your loved one.
Pressure Ulcers and How they Form
One of the more common forms of abuse that can happen in a nursing home involve negligence regarding pressure ulcers, often referred to as bed sores. Pressure ulcers are the result of staying in the same position for long periods of time. They can form as a result of pressure, friction, or shear. Bed sores can affect anyone, but they are especially dangerous for the elderly due to underlying health conditions. The elderly are also likely to suffer medical conditions that leave them immobile without aid. Sores that are caused by neglect can be affected by dehydration or the skin’s prolonged exposure to urine and feces.
Bed sores are preventable, and they can be treated. However, their presence is not an immediate case for neglect.
With some pressure sores, it can be easy to determine if your loved one has been neglected. If their skin isn’t being taken care of, if they are malnourished or dehydrated, or if they aren’t clean when you visit, then you need to get them help.
However, there are cases where the nurses try their best to help their clients take care of themselves, but the clients refuse their advice. Mental clarity and autonomy vary from client to client. If your loved one is able to think clearly and make their own decisions, it may be their own stubbornness that leads to the bed sores. So long as nurses have explained the risk and prevention measures and adequately documented their attempts and what they have tried, they may be clear of any liability. They cannot force your loved one to give up their autonomy, and they aren’t going to strap them down.
One way to ensure there is no neglect is to visit often. Speak with the staff and see how your relative has been doing according to their report. If your loved one is trying to express their autonomy by refusing advice on how long to sit in a certain chair or lay in bed, back up the medical staff and try to help your elderly relative understand the risks. You may be able to convince them to move around for a little while, giving their skin a break from the pressure.
If your loved one has been neglected, or if they developed bed sores and you aren’t sure if they were neglected or not, it’s time to contact a nursing home abuse organization for a case evaluation.
The first step with the discovery of bed sores is to get your loved one medical attention. If you are concerned the staff were responsible, this means an outside doctor. Once they are cared for, you should reach out to either a nursing home abuse organization or a personal injury lawyer. The organization can help match you with successful personal injury lawyers in your area, but you may already have an established business relationship with a lawyer that you would prefer to use.
Nursing home abuse organizations like Nursing Home Law Center, LLC are not law firms, but they gather a lot of information regarding nursing home abuse, what it looks like, and what you can do about it. They also have a partnership with lawyers across the US who have successful track records in nursing home abuse lawsuits. These lawyers will handle the paperwork and the courts, though they may need you to obtain certain documentation for them.
Settlements and Court Cases
Once lawyers get involved, most nursing homes will choose to settle. If your loved one is in a nursing home, you likely already have power of attorney. This allows you to act on their behalf in the settlement or case. Most of the compensation will need to go to your loved one’s medical care and any court fees, but you may also get additional compensation due to the level of harm caused by the nursing home staff’s neglect. In these cases, your lawyer can help you navigate power of attorney and help you use the money to ensure your loved one is cared for and set up in a new, safe nursing home.
Your original nursing home of choice may respond to the settlement by firing whichever nurses were responsible for your loved one’s care. But if the case was obvious neglect, can you trust the rest of their staff moving forward? Many families can’t get over what happened and make the decision to move their loved one somewhere else. If you retained a lawyer for the neglect case, they may have suggestions based on their experiences with other cases.
Choosing a nursing home can be overwhelming, and it can feel even more so after your loved one has been harmed. You want to do everything in your power to protect your loved one while ensuring they receive the care they need. Do not hesitate to reach out to the abuse organization for assistance in learning what signs to watch for and how to evaluate nursing homes.
If you are concerned for an elderly relative’s safety in a nursing home due to potential neglect or abuse, please contact an abuse center for a free case evaluation. Based on your consultation, you can make a well-informed decision to ensure your loved one is welll cared for.