Nursing home abuse, or the harm or mistreatment of nursing home residents at the hands of staff members, is a serious matter that can lead to grave consequences for the victims including injury, permanent disability, and even death.
If you become aware of possible nursing home abuse or neglect, it’s important to report it to the relevant authorities immediately so that they can take action, stop it from continuing, and prevent it from happening again in the future.
Below, we review the different options that you have available to you for reporting nursing home abuse and neglect.
If you or somebody else is in immediate danger or having a medical emergency, you can always dial 911 to receive emergency assistance. In addition to sending first responders, 911 operators will also give instructions for anything you can do while you wait to help the victim.
A nursing home ombudsman is a professional whose job is to protect the rights of nursing home residents and resolve issues regarding their health and safety. Serving as a middleman between residents and nursing homes, ombudsmen are in charge of:
Each state has its own ombudsman. You can find contact information for your local ombudsman through the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.
When nursing home abuse involves criminal conduct such as assault, homicide, abuse, harassment, or theft, you can report it to law enforcement by contacting your local police. They can help take immediate action and press criminal charges against the perpetrator.
Adult protective services (APS) is an agency that helps older and disabled adults who are unable to meet their own needs or who are victims of abuse or neglect. As part of their duties, county APS agencies investigate reports of elder abuse including nursing home abuse. To find the contact information of your local branch of the APS and report an incident of nursing home abuse, visit the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) website.
Eldercare Locator, a federal service sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services, operates a toll-free elder and nursing home abuse complaint hotline from Monday through Friday during working hours. You can reach it at 1-800-677-1116 and learn more by visiting the Eldercare website.
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) is an information and resource center helping to educate about and work to stop elder abuse. You can report nursing home abuse to the NCEA by calling them at 855-974-5073. Learn more by visiting the NCEA website.
If you’re not sure whether your loved one’s symptoms may be caused by nursing home abuse, it can be helpful to consult with a medical expert. They can examine the nursing home resident for warning signs of abuse and neglect and give you their professional opinion about whether or not there may be potential abuse.
Victims of nursing home abuse may pursue civil claims against responsible parties, as well as the facility itself. This process allows victims to recover damages to compensate them for both economic losses (such as medical bills and funeral costs) and non-economic losses (such as pain and suffering).
If you are interested in learning more about your options, you can contact an attorney experienced in pursuing nursing home abuse claims. Through AAL’s directory, you can find a number of skilled attorney with extensive experience is pursuing such claims.
It’s important to note that every state has procedures in place allowing people to anonymously file elder abuse reports and all calls to the National Adult Protective Services Association are entitled to be kept confidential. If you report nursing home abuse, your identity may be kept safe and you will be protected from retaliation.
If you are a staff member at a nursing home, you are obligated by the law - and most likely your employer’s policies - to report any possible nursing home abuse or neglect. If you fail to do so, you may be penalized, fired, arrested, or face other legal consequences .
You should also know that as a nursing home employee, there are whistleblower laws that protect you when reporting instances of abuse or neglect. These laws make it unlawful for your employer to fire you or otherwise take disciplinary action against because you reported potential abuse.
Whether you are a victim, a victim’s loved one, or a nursing home employee, it’s important to keep notes on what you see and maintain accurate records of what happened, when, where, and any other details you think might be relevant. The moment your suspicions are raised, write down the warning signs you’re witnessing and take photos if possible. This will make it easier to report later on and can potentially help strengthen any criminal or civil lawsuit or claim that may be pursued.