Placing your loved one into a nursing home is a difficult choice to make. When you make the decision to move your loved one into a long-term care facility, you want to be sure that they will be taken care of as carefully and with as much dignity as you would if you could at home. Over 1.3 million residents occupy beds in the 15,600 nursing homes across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Each and every one of those residents is somebody’s loved one who deserves proper care, but unfortunately, not everyone gets treated as they should.
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reports that under 8% of complaints filed by nursing home residents involved abuse, gross neglect, or exploitation. Although that percentage makes it seem like abuse isn’t prevalent, it’s important to remember that instances of nursing home abuse are underreported. In Illinois alone, 107 nursing homes were reported as deficient and cited for violating the Nursing Home Care Act in the first quarter of 2020. Let’s take a look at what the Nursing Home Care Act entails in Illinois.
Nursing Home Care Act of Illinois
When you place your loved one into a nursing home in Illinois, you should be aware of their rights. The Nursing Home Care Act ensures that your loved one maintains their dignity and still has rights, even though they are in a facility. This act put regulations in place so that elders in facilities will be treated fairly, and if they are not, you can seek justice.
Here are some of the rights that your loved one has as a resident of an Illinois nursing home:
- They can manage their own finances.
- They can keep and wear their own property.
- They can choose their physician.
- They can have privacy in their medical and personal care plan.
- They cannot be physically or chemically restrained as punishment or without informed consent.
- They cannot be administered unnecessary or excessive drugs.
- They cannot be abused or neglected.
- They can have private and uncensored communication by mail, telephone, or visitation.
- They have free practice of religion.
- They can be discharged if desired.
- They can present their grievances to the facility.
- They cannot be discriminated against.
There are many more rights listed in the Nursing Home Care Act, and these are just some of the bigger ones. When your loved one’s rights are violated, you could use the legal help of a Carbondale nursing home abuse lawyer from Prince Law Firm. Though we are based in Marion, we will fight for justice for you or your loved one in Carbondale and ensure that their rights to proper care in their facility are protected.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
In order to know if your loved one’s rights are being infringed upon in their long-term care facility, you should know the signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. There are many different ways your loved one can experience abuse in their nursing home—physically, emotionally, sexually, financially, and by neglect. Let’s look at the different forms of abuse that a nursing home resident can experience, and the signs to look for so you can identify when they are being abused.
Physical abuse happens when a resident is intentionally harmed through physical force. For example, physical abuse can be your loved one being hit, pushed, restrained, or grabbed forcefully. Some signs that your loved one is being physically abused by a staff member or fellow resident are:
- Unexplained bruises or cuts
- Broken bones
- Medication errors
- Broken personal items, like glasses
- Staff is reluctant to leave you alone with your family
While emotional abuse won’t leave signs like bruises or cuts, it could still show through physical signs, like body language. Some forms of emotional abuse include yelling, swearing, name-calling, and intentionally ignoring the resident. Here are some signs that your loved one is being emotionally abused:
- Becoming easily irritated
- Atypical behavior
Sexual abuse is a type of physical abuse but is worth mentioning on its own because some of the signs are unique to this kind of abuse. On top of potentially becoming more withdrawn, your loved one might be being sexually abused if they have:
- Unexplained bruises on their genitals
- Stained or ripped underwear
- Unexplained STDs or other sexual infections
Financial abuse can happen to your loved one in their long-term care facility, especially if they are struggling with memory loss problems, like dementia. If a nursing home staff member is writing themselves checks, granting themselves access to your loved one’s bank account, or selling their personal belongings, your loved one may not realize they’re being financially abused. Here are some signs to look for to spot financial abuse:
- Unexplained transactions
- Missing checks
- Missing personal items
- Forged signatures
Finally, your loved one could be neglected by their nursing home staff, which is a form of abuse. Although neglect usually isn’t intentional, and is a result of understaffing in the facility, it is still destructive and can have a lasting effect on the resident. Here are some signs that your loved one is being neglected:
- Poor hygiene
- Injuries from falls
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Withdrawing from others
Contact Prince Law Firm for Help
When you suspect that your loved one is experiencing nursing home abuse, getting legal support from a personal injury attorney will help you effectively get them the justice that they deserve. Our experienced Carbondale nursing home abuse lawyers at Prince Law Firm know that your loved one didn’t deserve the improper treatment, and that seeking legal action can prevent this from happening to anyone else. Although our office is located in Marion, we are dedicated to the citizens of Illinois and will help you seek justice in Carbondale. Reach out to us today so we can discuss your potential claim and get started as soon as possible.