Elderly Lives Matter®

What To Do If You See Black Mold In A Loved One’s Nursing Home

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2023 | Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

One of the benefits of having a loved one move into a nursing home is that there should be professionals helping maintain a sanitary space for them. After all, older adults are often more vulnerable to infection and illness than younger people with stronger immune systems.

Unfortunately, not every nursing home makes sanitation the priority that it should. Sometimes, poor maintenance and cleaning habits lead to the development of serious health concerns at a nursing home, such as the growth of black mold. What can family members do if they suspect black mold has begun growing at a nursing home where their loved one lives?

They can identify the mold

Plenty of molds are unattractive and odorous but not particularly dangerous for people. However, black mold is a human health concern. Black mold or Stachybotrys chartarum can produce mycotoxins that can cause respiratory illness, skin irritation, fevers and sinus inflammation, which often has an accompanying headache.

Cellulose is the building material that black mold consumes, so drywall and wood are often where it begins growing. It can also grow anywhere there is condensation, like air ducts, windowsills, bathrooms and kitchens. The mold often starts inside the wall, which means there could be a musty smell for weeks before any visible mold appears. The mold itself will be black and have a slimy texture.

What happens after confirming that there is black mold?

When a test or an inspection of the space establishes that there is black mold growing at the facility, the concerned family member will need to report the matter immediately. They should not attempt to clean the black mold themselves, as touching the mold could release the mycotoxins that could sicken their loved one. The workers at a nursing home should take immediate action to address the black mold. They may even need to move the people living in rooms contaminated by or adjacent to the black mold to a different space temporarily.

Black mold often requires professional remediation, but nursing homes should not delay addressing it. If they do, then it may be necessary to report the matter to Florida regulatory agencies. Government agencies can hold nursing homes accountable for failing to address reported issues and can force them into compliance or potentially close the facility if it is truly dangerous for the adults living there. Identifying black mold and speaking up about its presence can help protect the health and safety of older adults who may not be in a position to effectively advocate for themselves.

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