Nursing Home FAQ

Nursing Home FAQsFamilies needing to place a loved one in nursing centers will choose the best location that provides the best care, never suspecting that they could be a victim of abuse or neglect.

However, nursing home abuse has been on the rise for decades, as more people than ever before enter their retirement years, and fewer nurses and certified nursing assistants are available for hire.

Many nursing homes do provide a high quality of care for the residents. However, families must be vigilant and keep a watchful eye for the first indicators of abuse requiring immediate action.

A nursing home abuse attorney answers the most nursing home abuse FAQ (frequently asked questions) concerning mistreatment below.

What Is Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home abuse typically involves mistreatment by caregivers harming the residents in an assisted-living facility, LTC home, or rehabilitation center.

Abusive behavior may involve intentional or unintentional harm that leaves the victim with injury, trauma, medical emergency, or death.

Caregiver abuse is rampant in recent years, as many more baby boomers enter their retirement years. The abuse is often the result of improper training, understaffing, or burnout when the existing medical team works long hours for little pay.

Even though neglect and abuse are crimes, many cases go unreported when the victim is incapable of verbalizing what happened or lives in fear of retaliation if they speak out.

Typical forms of nursing home abuse and neglect could include:

  • Assault and battery from slapping, kicking, pushing, punching, pinching, beating, shaking, or threats
  • Substandard healthcare that could cause declining health
  • Sexual assault involving's rate, sodomy, or inappropriate touching
  • Continual or prolonged deprivation of water food
  • The unauthorized use of chemical or physical restraints, including straps and psychotropic medications
  • Unauthorized seclusion or isolation
  • Medication errors that lead to adverse reactions
  • The development of bedsores
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Physical, Mental, or Verbal Abuse and Neglect?

Abuse is often classified as any form of abuse involving physical assault, sexual assault, mental/emotional abusive behavior, and neglect.

Common symptoms of nursing home neglect and abuse involve:

  • Facility-acquired bedsores (pressure wounds, pressure sores, pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers)
  • malnutrition and dehydration
  • Asphyxia age and
  • Facility-acquired infections
  • Fall injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, fractures, and spinal cord damage
  • Elopement or wandering away from the facility
  • Unexpected weight gain or weight loss
  • The reluctance of the nursing home resident to speak in the presence of specific individuals
  • Unexplained injuries including bruises, cuts, wounds, or welts at varying stages of healing
  • Residents emotionally upset, agitated, or frustrated
  • isolated or wanting to be isolated from others
  • Living in the facility's unclean or unsanitary conditions
  • Residents who are non communicative or extremely withdrawn
How Do I Report Nursing Home Abuse?

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sponsors the Eldercare locator, connecting senior citizens to valuable resources in their community, including government programs, healthcare, and housing.

The toll-free number (800) 677-1116 is also the nursing home abuse hotline, with operators standing by M-F between 9:00 AM and 8:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), first established in 1988, also provides advocacy work on spotting and stopping abusive behavior through training and education at (855) 500-3537 (M-F between 8:30 AM at 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.

You can also report abusive behavior in a confidential setting through the National Adult Protective Services Association.

Each individual's name reporting through the system is kept confidential except through court orders to avoid legal action or retaliation.

Who Should I Contact First For Nursing Home Abuse?

For immediate interaction, consider talking to the Facility Administrator to file a formal complaint on what you suspect, observed, or saw involving abuse or neglect.

Additionally, contact the facility's Director of Nursing, who can take immediate action and remove the abuser from the resident's care.

By law, the nursing home administrator and medical team must file a report to state authorities within two hours if the nursing home resident was physically injured or twenty-four hours otherwise.

A follow-up report must be filed with the same agency within seventy-two hours to show how the situation was rectified and initiate a nursing home case investigation.

Under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) guidance, federal and state authorities will send inspectors to investigate what occurred. Every formal complaint will undergo a comprehensive investigation, and if the allegations are true, specific actions must be taken according to local and federal laws.

Sometimes, local law enforcement will also participate in the investigation and arrest or file charges against anyone committing a crime.

What Do I Do If I Suspect Abuse Harming Nursing Home Residents?

Any individual suspecting or knowing about abusive behavior in the nursing home should immediately stop the abusive behavior, negligence, sexual assault, or financial exploitation of an innocent victim.

Many cases involve unexplained injuries, substandard living conditions, signs of physical assault like bruising and cuts, or verbal assaults.

As a nursing facilities' resident advocate, you must ensure their safety. Call 911 if immediate attention is required. Otherwise:

  • Talk to the loved one or family member and ask if they feel harmed, threatened, abused, neglected, or exploited. Many times, your loved ones will remain silent to avoid retaliation from their abuser. Trust your instincts.
  • Speak with the Administrator and discuss concerns about the resident's safety and well-being
  • Protect the resident's rights to ensure they receive care and privacy with dignity and respect
  • File a complaint with the appropriate state agency, Adult Protective Services, or ombudsman if you are dissatisfied with the nursing center's response to your concerns
  • Document all evidence, including injury photographs, medical reports, fall accident reports, or anything. Recording any suspicions of exploitation, negligence, or abusive behavior and help support your complaint

Take appropriate corrective measures, participate in the nursing home resident's care and routinely show your visible presence to ensure everyone knows you are keeping your eye on the medical team.

Discuss what happened with the nursing home attorney specializing in abusive cases. Attorneys can help stop the abuse, remove your loved one from the facility, and begin a compensation claim to recover damages.

Should I Move My Parent When Abuse Is Reported At A Nursing Home?

In extreme situations, family members may have no other alternatives than to relocate a parent who has reportedly been abused, mistreated, or neglected at a nursing home.

Typical situations for relocating include:

  • Any suspicion of neglect or abuse
  • The nursing home uses abusive tactics to transfer remove the patient illegally
  • The nursing center provides disruptive treatment due to their inability to provide proper care
  • The nursing facility is neglecting the patient who requires care for specific health conditions

You may need to take appropriate measures like filing a formal complaint to relocate a loved one in an unsafe or abusive situation in the nursing home.

Speak with the Nursing Home Administrator about your concerns and consider using the facility's grievance resolution process to identify any suspicions of abuse and negligence occurring in the caregiving center.

How Common Is Abuse in Nursing Homes?

According to the National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys, an estimated 5 million senior citizens suffer physical, mental, emotional, psychosocial, and sexual abuse every year.

The data shows that more than one-third of all nursing home residents have witnessed at least a single incident involving physical assault involving senior citizens during the previous year.

The abuse is often the result of understaffing at the nursing home by an overworked team that can only provide substandard care. Sometimes, a Nurses Aide might be in charge of thirty patients.

The national standard ratio for nursing aides to residents is 1:15. However, in some facilities, this ratio is as high as 1:30.

Statistics released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reveal that every nursing center has about twenty complaints on average every year, equating to nearly 300,000 complaints involving problems with staffing, quality of care, and other contributing factors.

Who Is Most at Risk of Abuse in a Nursing Home?

The young, old, infirm, rehabilitating, and disabled live in nursing homes, assisted living centers, and long-term caregiving centers as temporary or permanent residents.

Individuals most vulnerable to abuse in a nursing home include those with physical and cognitive difficulties, including Alzheimer's disease, dementia, or social isolation.

Additionally, individuals who are overmedicated or under medicated have an increased risk of physical, mental, sexual, psychosocial, verbal, and mental abuse. Studies show that a third of all nursing home patients are on antipsychotic medications.

Studies showed that a third of all women with disabilities living in an institutional setting like a nursing center or assisted living center reported experiencing interpersonal violence.

This statistic was significantly higher than the 21% of females without disabilities reported.

Who Must Be Informed First of Abuse That Occurs in a Nursing Home?

If the resident is in immediate danger, call 911 and report what happened to local law enforcement.

Typically, the police will arrive on the scene to protect the resident from any further harm and begin an investigation to determine precisely what happened.

If the resident is not an immediate danger, speak with the Nursing Home Administrator and Director of Nursing to file a formal complaint to initiate an investigation. By law, the nursing home must notify local authorities by fax within two hours if physical injuries are involved or twenty-four hours if there is no physical injury.

Likely, within days, inspectors will arrive at the nursing home to begin an in-house investigation by reviewing medical records, taking eyewitness testimony, and speaking directly with everyone involved, including the abused resident.

The nursing center must take immediate action to correct the problem, including removing the abuser from the resident.

What To Do When Overhearing Elderly Verbal Abuse Saying Shut Up To An Elder In A Nursing Home?

Nursing Home administrators must provide abuse prevention training to every medical team member, including the Medical Director, Director of Nursing, Assistant Director of Nursing, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and nurse's aides.

Filing a formal complaint of hearing any medical team member verbally abusing a resident can stop the assault immediately and initiate an investigation.

By law, the staff member verbally abusing the resident must be removed from their care, including being sent home or fired.

In some cases, the verbal abuse comes from other people: patients, visitors, a loved one, family members, or friends. In these incidents, the complaint must be filed with the nursing staff to ensure the abuse from others stops immediately.

How Do I Turn Coworkers In For Nursing Home Abuse?

Turning in a coworker for abusing a nursing home patient is a brave move that can quickly protect the abused or neglected victim.

By law, every nursing center employee must report any observed or suspected abuse, mistreatment, or neglect involving a resident under their care.

Typical nursing home employees formally accused of neglect and abuse include administrators, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing, administrative staff, janitorial staff, food service employees, physical and occupational therapists, maintenance crews, and groundskeepers.

An employee might suspect abuse or neglect involving a coworker, vendor, contractor, or member of the administration team that:

  • Discriminates against Medicaid-eligible patients
  • Falsifies medical records
  • Fails to respond to the resident's call light
  • Fails to provide adequate security
  • Physically abuses patients
  • Sexually assaulted victims
  • Exposed the patient's medical record and personal information
  • Financially exploits the patient by stealing money, credit cards, and personal things
  • Neglecting the resident's needs might involve substandard personal hygiene, facility-acquired bed sores, unexplained weight loss, or improperly administering unauthorized behavior-modifying drugs (antianxiety and antipsychotics)

Any coworker witnessing substandard care or abuse in a caregiving facility may be fearful of filing a report believing they could lose their job or be subjected to retaliation by the Administrator.

However, you are protected by the Nursing Home Care Act that protects the employee against retaliation.

If you did lose your job, you can file a nursing home abuse lawsuit against the nursing center and receive compensation that includes:

  • Reinstating your job at the same position you held before being fired,
  • Double the amount of your backpay,
  • Interest and all payments you did not receive,
  • Reinstating your seniority rights and fringe benefits,
  • Other reasonable damages including attorney fees.

A personal injury law firm can open your nursing home abuse case to ensure your rights are protected. Contact us today at (800) 925-7565 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to initiate a claim.

Can a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Help Me?

A personal injury attorney working on your behalf can ensure you are protected from retaliation if you file a formal complaint about abuse or neglect in the nursing home.

You or a family member are likely eligible for financial compensation by filing a claim through a nursing home lawsuit.

Abusive behavior might involve the nursing staff failing to answer your call for assistance, neglecting your bathing schedule, forgetting to provide food and nourishment, or medication mistakes.

The staff may ignore your complaints about physical ailments, medication side effects, or other health issues.

You may have been physically abused, sexually assaulted, or verbally mistreated by nursing staff, loved ones, family members, friends, or other nursing home residents.

An attorney working on your behalf can file a lawsuit, hold the caregiving facility accountable, and ensure you are relocated to a safer environment.

A law firm with personal injury attorneys specializing in nursing home litigation typically accept cases through contingency fee agreements.

This arrangement postpones the clients' need to make any upfront payments until things are resolved and your compensation claim is received.

How Many Elderly Nursing Home Residents Have Experienced Physical Abuse Perpetrated By Staff?

Information and data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revealed that two-thirds of all nursing staff members stated they have neglected and abused residents under their care.

Some statistics reveal that approximately one-half of all neglect and abuse incidents in nursing centers go unreported.

A 2020 study found that nearly nine of ten assisted-living centers reported cases of nursing home abuse and neglect by staff members and employees.

How Do I Report Nursing Home Abuse In Illinois?

The Illinois Department of Public Health regulates public and private nursing homes statewide through licensing, regulating, certifying, and inspecting.

All concerned people have the right to request information and report observed or suspected abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of residents living in nursing facilities, long-term care centers, and assisted-living homes in numerous ways, including through the:

  • Senior Help Line at (800) 252-8966
  • Regional ombudsman
  • Illinois Department of Public Health at (800) 252-4343
  • Illinois State Police Medicaid Fraud Unit at (888) 557-9503
  • Healthcare and Family Services for Supported Living Facility Complaints at (800) 226-0768
  • National Center on Elder Abuse
  • National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care

All complaints and allegations are held in the strictest confidence.

Client Reviews

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric