As experienced nursing home lawyers, we have long seen the tragic cases of nursing home abuse. In order to address the question of how nursing home abuse can be prevented, the underlying causes of abuse should be understood.
In the vast majority of these cases, the abuse is not unforeseeable, but rather predictable. The fact is that nursing home abuse typically results from one or more of the following factors:
- Mistakes in the hiring process. Often, administrators will hire those who clearly do not have the capabilities, attitude, or compassion for the job and resident care. In some instances, those hired may even have criminal records that should preclude them from being hired.
Why are unqualified workers hired in the first place? In a tight job market, it’s often difficult to find qualified workers willing to work in the sometimes difficult caregiver positions for the typically low pay offered. As a result, instead of hiring qualified workers, nursing homes sometimes seem willing to hire whoever will take a job.
- Poorly-trained workers. It’s critical that those hired by nursing homes be properly trained to care for residents in the proper manner. For instance, some residents have cognitive issues, which can cause them to act out and be difficult. Workers must be trained to realize that such behaviors are a result of disease and medical conditions. When they fail to realize these conditions, workers may want to take abusive action against the resident – such as using physical or chemical restraints.
- Administrative Negligence and Lack of Proper Systems. Nursing home abuse tends to also be a direct result of administrative negligence and the lack of implementing proper systems. For instance, are there systems in place for monitoring caretakers to make sure that they are properly fulfilling their duties? Is someone checking on residents to make sure that they are not being abused or neglected, or are suffering from preventable injury, such as bed sores/pressure ulcers? If the same staff person is the only person routinely providing care for a particular resident, then it is likely that abuse or injuries from neglect may not become known to the administration. With proper systems in place, abuse and neglect can be significantly eliminated.
- Putting Profits Over Resident Care. The number one reason for nursing home abuse is a systematic decision to put profits over resident care. This process starts at the top in the hiring process. Making decisions to pay caregivers and administrators below-market wages or salaries results in hiring people who may not have the qualifications, skills, and training for their respective positions. When under-qualified administrators are hired, they may not understand (and fail to implement) the systems for best practices in nursing home management, which in turn leads to poor quality staffing, lack of training, and other dangerous conditions.
Additionally, putting profits over resident care often leads to deliberate understaffing, as the fewer hours that staff work, the more money the nursing home can make. Understaffing results in more work being placed on workers, who must care for more residents that they may be able to adequately manage during their shift. When workers have less time to care for residents, issues can arise, such as bed sores and pressure ulcers.
Moreover, less time for resident care can also directly result in abuse. Workers who need to quickly change bedding are more likely to “manhandle” a resident so that bedding can be changed faster, instead of doing so in a much more gentle and compassionate manner.
Worker attitudes can quickly change from a desire to provide compassionate care that is deserved, into seeing residents and their needs as being an impediment to job performance (such as changing sheets, cleaning a room, or bathing a resident). When this attitude change occurs, it is increasingly likely that abuse will take place.
What Can Be Done So that Nursing Homes Will Change Dangerous Practices Leading to Abuse?
Unfortunately, as lawyers for nursing home abuse, we cannot proactively stop nursing homes from engaging in the practices that can result in neglect or abuse. Instead, we can only seek to hold them accountable when neglect and abuse occur. When neglect and abuse occur, the following actions can and should be undertaken:
- Reporting Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect. Nursing home abuse can consist of physical or sexual assault, as well as many other actions (such as withholding food or proper care). Abuse should be reported to the police. In addition, in New York, nursing home abuse and neglect complaints can also be reported to the New York Department of Health as follows:
- Print and complete the NY Nursing Home Complaint form
- Mail this form to:
EMPIRE STATE PLAZA
ALBANY, NEW YORK 12237
Or fax the completed form to 518-408-1157.
By Telephone: Call 1-888-201-4563 (this number is staffed 24/7)
Call our firm asap. Not only can we help in seeking justice for your loved one, we can also provide advice about what immediate actions should be taken to prevent future abuse or neglect, or what intervention with the authorities should be taken.
We Understand How Difficult a Situation of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect May Be
You’ve entrusted your loved one’s care to a facility that has betrayed this trust, and which may have deliberately caused abuse. You most likely will not have ever had to confront a nursing home (or maybe anyone else) for causing injury.
We understand, and can act on your behalf for your loved one, particularly to protect your loved one against future injury through abuse or neglect.
Call Us So that We Can Learn About Your Matter
We offer a free consultation so that you can learn about your options. We accept nursing home abuse, neglect, and wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that there is no fee for our services unless compensation is recovered. As a full-service nursing home abuse and neglect law firm, we also advance litigation costs (such as court costs, expert fees, and deposition costs) on behalf of clients, so that you will not need to fund these potentially high litigation expenses.
We invite you to call us at your convenience.