Nursing homes play an invaluable role in today’s society. If you have an aging loved one in your family, you may need to rely on a nursing home to provide wide-ranging health care. Of course, not all nursing homes provide a safe and healthy environment. In fact, nursing home abuse is not exactly rare in the Sunshine State.
A recent study found that 191 patients died in Florida nursing homes because of abuse or neglect during a five-year period. The report’s authors recommended both better documentation and increased investigations. Put simply, if you believe your aging relative or friend is the victim of nursing home abuse, you need to create a comprehensive record to help you advocate for better care.
Discover the facts
Facts must be the foundation of any investigation into nursing home abuse. If you worry about your loved one’s well-being, you must try to determine if healthcare providers are causing harm. Watch for physical signs of abuse and neglect, such as abrasions, bedsores, lesions, bruises, malnutrition and poor hygiene. Also, pay attention to your loved one’s finances and emotional health.
Maintain a detailed log
Nursing home abuse does not have to be an ongoing event. On the contrary, your loved one may become the victim of abuse during just a single incident. Nonetheless, nursing home abuse is often pervasive. Every time you notice the signs of nursing home abuse, document what you see in a detailed log. Include the date of the incident, the symptoms you observed, the facility staff on duty and other relevant information in your log.
Ask for help
You may not be able to uncover nursing home abuse on your own. Rather, you may need to ask your loved one’s friends and family members to help you monitor your aging relative’s care. When you do, describe your concerns and ask others to write down the abuse they observe. If anyone sees physical signs of abuse or neglect, be sure to document them in photographs.
Most Florida nursing homes have a process for filing complaints. Once you have determined your loved one is not receiving adequate care, file an official complaint with the nursing home. Note, however, if you think your relative’s life is in immediate danger, you may need to intervene before you have all the facts.