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4 Common Causes of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

R. Mark Maritote Aug. 15, 2018

Oftentimes, nursing homes give the elderly a sense of community. These institutions provide safety and professional care for various individuals. As a family member, you are perhaps paying for your loved one to live a good life. A well-run nursing home will respect its residents and treat them with dignity.

Unfortunately, not all nursing homes are properly managed. According to the National Council on Aging, one in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse.

Listed below are commonly reported causes of abuse or neglect found in nursing homes.

  1. Unmaintained facilities. Any type of building should be well-maintained for the general public. For the elderly, however, it is especially important. Ill-maintained nursing home grounds present danger. Stairs, railings and walking surfaces require thoughtful design to reduce the threat of an accident. In addition, elevators and ramps should be safe.

  2. Low staffing. Nursing homes sometimes struggle with keeping the facility staffed throughout the day. Nighttime shifts are no easier to fill. Since many elderly patients need 24/7 assistance, this is an alarming problem. Adequate staff is required around the clock in ensure resident safety. The last thing you want for your loved one is a midnight accident.

  3. Poorly trained staff. In addition to a low level of staffing, untrained or poorly trained staff is another dilemma. All staff dealing directly with the residents should have certification or a license from the state.

  4. Lack of accountability. We all can play a part in nursing home neglect. While staffing and management are to blame for many causes of abuse, lack of visitors is additionally harmful. No person is held accountable for their actions if they go unnoticed. That is why negligence sometimes goes unreported for weeks, months and maybe years.

Next steps to identifying abuse or neglect

You may notice nursing home abuse or neglect if you watch for the signs. Faulty equipment, unkept grounds and unleveled walking surfaces are obvious visuals. But some indicators are not as cut-and-dried. A broken pair of glasses, bruises or other subtle signs of restraints can all be hints of physical abuse. Emotional abuse and caregiver neglect can come to light when an elderly resident starts behaving differently, or isn’t suitably dressed for the weather.

If you have witnessed nursing home neglect or abuse, it’s important to contact a protective service agency. You could also file a criminal complaint or lawsuit. Be sure to seek legal counsel when getting involved. Not only are your loved ones affected, but many other residents might be dealing with the silent pain.