Families agonize over the decision to place a loved one in a care facility. Most families research and visit several locations, trying to find the absolute best place to care for their elderly or disabled family members. They may even care for their loved ones themselves until they just can’t possibly do so anymore.
Nursing home costs are high
Assisted living costs nationally averaged about $4,000 per month for one resident in 2019. And in South Carolina, skilled nursing care facilities averaged a cost of $6418.00 for a semi-private room and $7209.00 per month for a private room in 2019.
A private room for one family member in a skilled nursing facility in South Carolina would cost $86,508 per year, average. And it could be much higher than that depending on the facility or if greater care is needed. Thankfully, some people have long-term care insurance which can help with these expenses. But not everyone does.
Families have a right to expect quality care
With costs in the many tens of thousands of dollars per year range, families expect their loved ones to be well-cared for no matter who pays the medical bills and living expenses for the year. Patients in these facilities deserve to receive the standard of care the law requires.
Unfortunately, nursing home negligence, or even abuse, happens far too frequently. It can happen in any facility, potentially. Since the COVID-19 crisis began, it can be even more difficult for families to monitor the safety and health of their loved ones and we are afraid that cases of neglect and abuse may be increasing during this time.
If you believe that your loved one may have been harmed in an assisted living facility, skilled nursing care facility, or dementia care facility, it’s important to speak with a personal injury lawyer to find out how you can protect your family member and find out if they may be able to receive damages for medical expenses related to their illness or injury and compensation for pain and suffering and other related expenses.
Nursing home neglect
Care facilities have a legal duty to provide a certain level of care for their residents. They are to ensure that patients have adequate food, water, shelter, personal safety, hygiene, medical care, and emotional wellbeing.
Neglect is generally done out of carelessness, haste, undertraining, or understaffing. It is not generally intentional. Still, if the staff of a facility neglects a resident, the consequences can be terribly dangerous:
- Broken bones due to falls
- Cellulitis (often due to untreated bed sores)
- Choking or aspiration
- Dehydration which can lead to multi-system organ failure and even death
- Food poisoning
- Medication errors
- Poor hygiene and consequential health maladies
- Respiratory infections leading to pneumonia
- Sepsis due to inadequately treated cellulitis
- Skin infections
- Urinary infections
- Wrongful death
How often does nursing home neglect occur?
Nursing home neglect — the inadequate care of nursing home residents — is shockingly common. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), roughly 95% of nursing home residents have been neglected or have witnessed neglect. Inadequate care in nursing homes can have serious consequences, including death. However, residents and their loved ones can help prevent neglect.
Elder neglect is never acceptable and anyone who is concerned for a loved one and thinks there could be neglect going on should contact the appropriate authorities to report the neglect and try to get help.
Nursing home abuse
Neglect is generally done because of thoughtlessness or oversight. Abuse is when someone intentionally causes harm to a resident at a care facility. It can be much more serious than neglect, although both abuse and neglect can greatly increase a patient’s risk of death.
There are many types of abuse including financial abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and social media abuse.
Financial abuse occurs when a staff member or visitor steals from a resident’s possessions or their bank account. Other times, someone may convince a patient to put their name on the credit card or checking account so the con artist can take money from the patient.
Or they may coerce a patient to change their will to leave their assets to them. The damage can range from small amounts to someone cleaning out a resident’s entire savings.
Emotional abuse often involves yelling, threats, intimidation, cursing, and other abusive verbal behavior. It can lead to great emotional distress and even physical illness for patients.
Physical abuse includes hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, scratching, pushing, or otherwise physically harming or attacking another person.
Sexual abuse involves any unwanted physical sexual contact or sexual contact where a resident is incapable of legally giving consent to sexual activity. It can also involve someone exposing themselves inappropriately, showing pornography to a patient, or forcing a resident to be unclothed.
Unfortunately, women and dementia patients are particularly vulnerable in nursing homes to sexual abuse, although it can happen to anyone. This kind of abuse can cause physical injuries, STD’s, humiliation, depression, anxiety, fear, and even stress-induced illness.
Social media abuse
Social media abuse is a relatively recent phenomenon where staff members take demeaning pictures of residents and share them on their own social media, making fun of patients or making derogatory remarks.
This is hurtful to the patients, as well as their families. And it speaks very poorly of the entire facility and profession. Social media should be a place where people are safe and uplifted, not where they are bullied and exploited.
10 nursing home red flags
If you have a loved one in a nursing care facility, try to visit whenever possible, or call and check up on them often. Make sure you don’t see any problems for your loved one (or other patients) like
- Signs of understaffing – not receiving food hygienic care in a reasonable amount of time
- Malnutrition – not receiving food at all or missing meals
- Unexplained or frequent injuries or illness
- New significant emotional distress
- Unsanitary conditions
- Other residents or visitors abusing a resident
- Staff is ignoring patients for prolonged periods
- Staff is abusing patients
- Money is missing from your family member’s account
- The facilities are unsafe and unable to provide adequate shelter
Report nursing home abuse or neglect
If you suspect that your loved one has suffered from nursing home neglect or abuse, don’t ignore it. You have the power to help protect your loved one by contacting:
- The local police
- Adult Protective Services or the Department of Social Services (DSS) in South Carolina
- The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)
- An experienced attorney with a nursing home abuse law firm.
Are you looking for a personal injury attorney near you in the Columbia, SC area?
Burriss and Ridgeway law firm has years of experience dealing with nursing home abuse and neglect, elder abuse, elder neglect, and other types of personal injury cases.
If you suspect that one of your family members may have suffered abuse or neglect while in the care of a nursing home facility, please schedule a free consultation. We’d love to see if we can help you and your loved one get the compensation you deserve for any injuries, illnesses, or distress your family member has experienced.
Please contact us today!
We have three convenient office locations around the Midlands: Orangeburg, Lexington, and Columbia, South Carolina.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect and the Nursing Home Review Act: an Overview – by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys