Nursing homes, retirement communities, and assisted living facilities. We trust these organizations with our beloved elders to help carry them through their golden years. So what happens when your loved ones are abused or neglected by those you’ve entrusted with their care?
All too often, the professionals we trust disappoint us. No betrayal hurts more than abuse, especially when the victims are vulnerable members of society.
What is Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing home abuse can take many forms, both malicious and neglectful. Neglectful abuse can be issues like not ensuring medication is taken on time, not providing proper diet, not removing fall risks, not repositioning bed or chair-bound patients to avoid bed sores, etc. Neglect can be accidental or a result of overworked staff. Malicious abuse can be verbal, emotional, or physical at the hands of one or more caretakers. Both intentional and unintentional forms of abuse can lead to illness, injury, trauma, emergencies, and even death.
Organizations across the US are working hard to end nursing home abuse, attempting to get better hiring practices and training programs implemented. But until that day comes, you need to know what to do if you have concerns about your loved one’s care.
In best-case scenarios, other staff will notice what is happening and go to their superiors. But sometimes, the signs are missed, and a wrongdoer isn’t caught by their peers. For example, if your loved one is losing weight, developing bed sores, being rushed to the hospital for sepsis, etc., they may need you to advocate for them. When it comes to reporting suspected abuse, there are many steps you can take.
Who to Contact if You Suspect Abuse
The first step is to talk with a manager or supervisor at the nursing home. If you suspect abuse, it’s also likely that someone doesn’t understand policy or is overworked and overstressed. Someone in charge should be able to investigate their staff and get back to you quickly. However, if your concerns are not assuaged or if you are brushed off, it’s time to contact Adult Protective Services (APS). If you are uncomfortable with management or have reason to suspect they are part of the problem, you can go straight to the APS with your concerns.
APS protects vulnerable adults, whether disabled, elderly, or both. They take every concern seriously and will thoroughly investigate the nursing home and your loved one’s care. However, the bar is high for the burden of proof in a criminal case. APS specifically handles criminal cases; if they do not find enough evidence, their aid will end. However, they will take the court case and gather all evidence if the abuse is criminal.
Whether or not the nursing home or staff faces a criminal case, you can still seek a civil case on behalf of your loved one. Civil cases ensure that your family receives compensation to help cover your loved one’s resulting medical costs and the cost of moving them to another facility. If you have concerns about your loved one’s care, contact a lawyer to help you prepare a case.
Hiring a Lawyer to Help with Your Case
When filing a case regarding nursing home abuse in Chicago, you need to find a local personal injury lawyer to help. Law, settlement, and court are complicated fields, and you want someone on your side who understands what needs to be done. A personal injury lawyer will help you collect evidence, file documentation, and track deadlines. They will also help you calculate costs and damages resulting from the abuse to seek a settlement amount that will take care of your loved one’s future. A lawyer will also help you calculate funeral and burial expenses in the event of wrongful death. If the nursing home refuses to settle, they will also represent you in court.
Finding a Chicago personal injury lawyer is relatively simple; choosing one is tricky. Chicago is home to many successful law firms. You want to investigate whether they have experience with nursing home abuse or wrongful death cases, and you also want evidence of a successful settlement record. Other things to look for are awards and recognitions or partnerships with a well-regarded organization. The most important factor is your consultation. Personal injury lawyers offer free consultations, and these meetings can help you get a feel for the firm and its staff. If you are uncomfortable, go with someone else. Consultations do not have an obligation of retainment. You only have to pay your lawyer once you win your case. Their fee is often included in the compensation you receive.
Finding a New Home For Your Loved One
The potential for abuse shouldn’t scare you away from helping your loved ones receive the daily care they need. Unfortunately, this fact can be harder to follow after suffering from abuse. But not all assisted living facilities are abusive— and they provide a necessary service. We understand if you’re hesitant to find a new nursing home for your loved ones, but daily care for an elderly family member takes a lot of effort and time, and not everyone is qualified as a caretaker. So it’s okay if you need to entrust their care to someone else.
The internet is ripe with advice on choosing a nursing home. But if you’ve been burned before, it’s hard to take advice articles at their word. One thing you may want to do is talk to your personal injury lawyer. Let them know your concerns. Your lawyer has access to a lot of court records and may be able to steer you away from homes shown to have more issues than others. Or they may know of local nursing homes that exceed expectations. Remember, you used a local lawyer. They’re from the area, and they know their community. You trusted them with your case; trust their advice now. Another source of information and potential recommendations is the APS agent with whom you worked.