How Common Is Abuse in Residential Care Homes?
When you can no longer take care of your elderly loved one in your home, or they can no longer take care of themselves in their own home, you might make the decision for them to live in a residential care home. A residential care home is slightly different than a nursing home or a long-term care facility.
In a residential care home, your elderly loved one is provided with 24-hour care, however they have their own living space. Residents in residential care homes typically have their own apartments or houses on the premises, and staff members come by daily for care assistance, or can be paged in an emergency.
This gives your loved one more freedom than in a nursing home where they’re monitored constantly and need more constant care and supervision. But abuse can happen in both kinds of facilities. Let’s take a look at how common abuse is in residential care homes.
Abuse in Residential Care Homes
Even though residential care homes are different from nursing homes in your loved one’s independence, that doesn’t mean they’ll be free from abuse. Unfortunately, even in settings where an older family member has more freedom in their living situation and a staff member or aid only pops in to help them when needed, they can still suffer abuse during these interactions.
Abuse is any intentional action that causes the resident anguish, pain, or distress. These actions can be physical, verbal, sexual, or financial in nature, but all result in the same thing—pain for your loved one. The use of physical or chemical restraints can also be considered abuse.
While these actions are described as intentional, sometimes unintentional actions can lead to abuse as well. When a facility is understaffed or overworked, they may neglect certain patients. This is also considered abuse when it leads to the suffering and pain of a resident, whether it’s intentional or not.
Even though your loved one is in a residential care home, and therefore wants more independence and likely needs minimal staff involvement, that doesn’t mean the staff will treat them correctly. They could still fall victim to all of the forms of abuse listed above. Neglect could be even more common since they are living on their own and a staff member would need to physically come to their location rather than like in a nursing home where everyone is in one smaller area.
To look at the numbers, it’s reported by the National Center on Elder Abuse that about 1 in 10 elders living in community-based care settings, like residential care homes, experience some kind of abuse in a year. Psychological abuse is the most common form, but all forms can be present.
This means that if your loved one is in a residential care facility, they could still experience abuse. Abuse and neglect are even more likely now in the times of COVID because nursing shortages have diminished the quality of care residents receive. They can’t get proper care when there aren’t enough staff members.
Signs Your Loved One Is Being Abused
When your loved one is in a residential care home, you might feel comfortable that they’re receiving all the care they need while maintaining their independence and freedoms as an adult. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be vigilant when you visit them—they could still experience abuse of all kinds in this facility.
Here are some of the signs you should look out for in your loved one when you’re visiting, talking on the phone, or having a video chat so that you can identify potential abuse or neglect right away:
- Unexplained bruises or cuts
- Unexplained broken bones and other injuries
- Burns and welts
- New illnesses and infections
- Poor hygiene
- Unexplained weight loss
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Inconsistent medication or overly medicated
- Fatigue or insomnia
- Changes in demeanor
- Deteriorating mental state
- Depression and anxiety
- Missing valuables or funds
- Changes to will or estate
- Changes to financial accounts
- Signs of sexual abuse injuries around genitals
All of these could be signs that your loved one is not only receiving improper care, but is also experience traumatic abuse that harms their physical and mental state. When you suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected, you need to report it right away.
Your first step in reporting will be telling the staff and facility. They should form an investigation and look into your claims, but if they are trying to protect their staff, this step might not make much change. Next, you’ll report the suspicions to other agencies so they can launch their own investigation. The Illinois Department of Aging lists many resources for reporting the abuse here.
No matter what, it’s important to know you have options to get your loved one justice. Nobody deserves to be mistreated and abused. When you’ve filed reports, you might want to take legal action. That’s where our nursing home abuse lawyer comes in.
Prince Law Firm Will Represent Your Loved One
No matter what kind of long-term care facility your loved one is in, facility-based or residential, they deserve to be free from all kinds of abuse and neglect. When you suspect they’re being mistreated, you’ll likely want to take action. One of the ways to do that is to hold the facility accountable for their actions.
When you have a nursing home abuse lawyer from Prince Law Firm on your side, you can feel confident in your nursing home abuse claim and know that your loved one will be supported every step of the way. We’re dedicated to representing the victims of abuse, and know how difficult this time is for your family.
Reach out to our office today so we can discuss your potential claim.
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