If you have a parent or other elderly loved one currently in nursing-home care, you may find yourself wondering about the quality of your loved one's treatment in their nursing-home environment. In a perfect world, you would be able to trust the people caring for your loved one without question. However, it is not a perfect world, and it is important to know what you can and should do when you suspect nursing-home abuse.
Document Any and All Signs of a Problem
Firstly, it is important that you start documenting any and all signs of abuse or mistreatment that you notice when you visit or speak with your loved one. If they tell you that someone was verbally or physically abusive with them, or that they handled something incorrectly or inappropriately, write it down with a time and date on the paper. You can also record your loved one's account of the events on a smartphone or tablet if you would prefer a video and/or audio record.
Take photographs of any injuries or bruises on your loved one as well. These records will be helpful if you need to seek the help of nursing-home abuse lawyers, and they can help you begin to get to the bottom of what is really going on with your loved one.
Ask the Staff for Copies of Their Logs and Records
In most nursing homes, nearly every interaction with a patient is logged and tracked. This is for the benefit of the residents' health and well-being, as well as being a way for the nursing home to better handle any potential problems. As such, if you are concerned about what your loved one is telling you or how they appear, you can ask to get copies of those logs and records.
If an accident occurred, or your loved one is suffering from dementia or other issues rather than abuse, these logs and records can help you determine that. For example, some nursing-home residents need help getting out of bed and are supposed to page staff members when they need to get up. If they forget or refuse, they may suffer frequent falls. These falls would be marked in their patient records, and if you had copies, you could find a logical explanation for certain injuries.
Alternatively, you could also use the logs to find patterns associated with your loved one's complaints or injuries, like a certain staff member being there on days when incidents occurred, or missing documentation of some sort. Again, these logs and records could be useful in any legal action you might take.
Install a Camera and Contact a Lawyer
If you still suspect abuse after you have taken these steps, your next two steps are to put a camera (or a few) in your loved one's room and contact a lawyer. In a nursing-home setting, it is a patient's and a family's right to observe and document how the patient is being treated. As such, you can legally put a camera (like a nanny or security camera) in their room.
You need to be careful about the camera's positioning and angle, though. You want to document how your loved one is treated in their room, but you cannot aim the camera where it captures the hallway or any area outside of your loved one's room. Doing so would violate the privacy of the other patients. Sync these cameras you install to your computer and/or smartphone, and keep copies of the recordings (at least for a certain period of time). You can review the tapes and keep any footage that is problematic.
And, of course, because you are at the point of being convinced that abuse or negligence are occurring in the nursing home, you will want to contact a nursing-home abuse attorney to help you proceed with any actions against the nursing home and its staff members. Now that you know these steps to take when you suspect nursing-home abuse, you can be sure you are doing what you can to protect your loved one.