Nursing home neglect occurs when a nursing home neglects the needs of residents. That means that the nursing home and/or staff members provide substandard care to residents. Inadequate or neglectful care can have devastating consequences on residents. Unfortunately, the signs of neglect may not be as easily recognizable as the signs of abuse.
Around 95 percent of nursing home residents report experiencing or witnessing some type of neglect. That means there are millions of nursing home residents who may be suffering from substandard care. In some cases, nursing home neglect could result in serious harm, and could even be life threatening.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Causes of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home neglect may be the result of intentional wrongdoing or unintentional factors. Some of the more common reasons that neglect occurs include:
Nursing homes that fail to conduct proper background and criminal checks on applicants may be putting residents at risk. Applicants who have a criminal history or a poor employment record may be at a higher risk of neglecting residents, stealing, improperly using medications, etc.
Once hired, caregivers should be properly trained. This includes training caregivers on how to properly care for residents’ daily needs, how to handle medications, managing mobility issues, and how to report possible problems.
When nursing homes are understaffed there is a greater risk of residents being neglected. This may not be intentional on the part of caregivers, but rather, may be the result of not enough caregivers on site to meet the needs of all residents. Nursing homes are required to properly staff their facilities in order to maintain an acceptable standard of care.
Alcohol or Drug Use
Caregivers who use or abuse alcohol or drugs may not be in the correct state of mind to properly care for nursing home residents. This can lead to neglect because they do not have the capacity to meet the demands of the job.
Job Dissatisfaction or Stress
Not everyone has what it takes to be a nursing home caregiver. Nursing homes should be mindful of job dissatisfaction or stress among caregivers that may result in poor performance or neglecting their duties.
In addition to these factors, sometimes nursing home caregivers intentionally neglect residents. In such cases, they may be prosecuted for elder abuse or other crimes.
Preventing Nursing Home Neglect
It is the responsibility of the nursing home to ensure that all residents receive quality care from caregivers who are capable of providing it. Measures that nursing homes can take to prevent neglect include:
- Paying close attention to the nursing home environment
- Conduct background and criminal history checks on all applicants prior to hiring
- Monitor staff closely and address any signs of neglect
- Staff the facility well, including caregivers and nurses
- Ensure that all staff members have proper training
- Encourage family members to visit the facility
- Communicate with family members on a regular basis
- Enforce adherence to state and federal care guidelines
- Encourage staff members to speak up if they witness abuse or neglect
Nursing homes must adhere to state and federal guidelines that dictate the rights of nursing home residents. Following these guidelines is one of the best ways to prevent nursing home neglect and abuse.