Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect
You knew it was coming. It was a day you thought about, planned for, worried about. You didn’t think today would be the day. The call came from the hospital. Your mother had fallen and broken her leg. She is safe and surgery should repair the injury but she is not able to return home. At this point, your home is not accessible for your mother or maybe you cannot leave your job to provide twenty-four hour care. You are faced with your mother going to a nursing home. The plan is only for a short rehabilitation stay, but there is a potential of your mother never being able to return home.
Upon arrival at the facility, you notice the lobby is beautiful. You are approached by a very nice woman who presents you with a stack of papers. The process is so overwhelming. The papers, end of life decisions, insurance reimbursement, arbitration agreement, your mother’s care--it all becomes a blur. You just want your mom to be safe.
After leaving the lobby, things are different. Your mother’s room does not look anything like the lobby. As your mother calls for help to get to the bathroom, no one comes. Unfortunately, she cannot hold it any longer and she urinates on herself. When help finally arrives, she is placed in adult diapers. You begin to see the sparkle in your mother’s eyes fade. She is so humiliated. You discuss the problem with the nice lady that you met earlier. She promises that the situation will be addressed immediately.
Over the next days and weeks, unanswered call lights become the standard. Pain medications are not delivered on time. Therapy is only received two days a week. As your mother becomes depressed, she stops eating. She doesn’t move around in the bed. No one encourages her to get up. No one turns her in the bed. After a few weeks in the facility, a bed sore develops. Once again, you meet with the nice lady and then the administrator. Promises are made, but changes never occur. You remain fearful that if you say too much, the facility will send your mom home. At this point, your mother’s condition has gotten worse and there is absolutely no way you can care for her in your home. You look for other facilities to transfer your mother to, but your mother’s decline makes her not the “ideal” resident. No facilities agree to “take” her.
Then you receive the call. It comes in the middle of the night. Your mother had fallen. When you arrive at the nursing home, there are only 2-3 employees to care for the 65 patients. You ask your mother why she got up without help. She tells you, “I needed to use the bathroom and no one would help me. I just didn’t want to pee on myself.” Stunned, you seek help and answers. The halls are empty, call lights are ringing, no one can be found.
While this story may seem unusual to some, it occurs every day for hundreds of nursing home residents and their families.
Long Term Care Ownership
A long term care facility is a healthcare facility where individuals can receive short term (usually 100 days or less) rehabilitative care or long term (greater than 100 days) care. Many of these facilities, formerly called nursing homes, have been purchased by corporations located outside of Kentucky. As the ownership of these organizations has changed, the quality of care has declined.
Many of Kentucky’s elders and handicapped are receiving substandard care because of negligence, incompetence, inadequate staffing, and even corporate misconduct. Some of the signs of abuse or neglect are:
- Pressure sores
- Unusual weight loss
- Sexual assault
- Frequent hospitalizations
- Many times we find that the victim seems frightened of staff members or becomes withdrawn and depressed.
Herren and Adams have extensive experience in identifying abuse and neglect and holding long term care facilities accountable for these actions. The law is on the victim’s side. Under Kentucky statute, KRS 216.515, entitled “Rights of Residents – Duties of Facilities – Actions,” subparagraph (6) mandates that “All residents shall be free from mental and physical abuse…”
If your loved one has been neglected or abused, you need an attorney who is thoroughly familiar with the federal and state long term care statutes and regulations. If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect, please Contact Us or call Herren and Adams at 859-254-0024.
If you or your loved one has received poor care or abuse while a resident of a long term care facility you should contact the Adult Abuse Hotline at 1-800-752-6200 or the Long Term Care Ombudsman at 1-800-372-2991.