There are generally two issues here. Firstly there are a lot of children or a lot of loved ones who are somewhat absent, meaning they are not there all the time and they do not talk with their loved one often. They might see them once a month, once every three months or once every six months, and during that period of time the loved one does not complain to their family. The other issue is when people have a tendency to rationalize everything that is going on or maybe they feel like they are exaggerating, that maybe it was not that bad or something along those lines.
My recommendation for someone who had a loved one in a nursing home would be to remain very active in their care, and be an advocate for them. Take a look at their skin on a weekly basis and make sure it is not breaking down. Make sure they are not bruised, because a lot of times, they would not say anything, so the friend or relative would have to show up at the nursing home at all times of the day, at all times of the night and not always at the same time, so the staff knew they were active and involved. The person would need to bring up any concerns they had, with the staff so they would know that they would not be able to get away with being lazy, uncaring or apathetic. The staff will take care of the loved one if somebody is active in their loved one's care, but if they were somebody who showed up every quarter, maybe because they lived out of state, then the staff would know that they would not have to do anything until the next time the person was going to show up; it is only human nature, especially when someone is overworked and underpaid and they feel unappreciated, which is the environment in a lot of these big nursing homes that corporations have set up.
Are There People In Denial Of Anything That Happened Because They Like The People Who Work With Them?
Yes, this does happen. I have had cases where it came out that the resident was dehydrated and the nursing home didn't listen to the resident or notice the signs of dehydration. The staff's job is to care for the resident and failing to recognize that the resident's condition has changed or failing to take corrective action when they notice a problem is concerning. Many times we see issues with feeding residents. Some residents in the dining room can't feed themselves, so there would be one aide trying to feed six or eight people, which is overwhelming to the aide. This type of situation breeds apathy, which is why the resident's family needs to be present and active in their love one's care.
How Have People And Families Been Affected By Nursing Home Abuse?
There are two types of nursing home residents, the first group being people who go into a nursing home because they are older, they have multiple problems and they are intending to stay there for the rest of their life. There is a whole other group of people who go to a nursing home for a short term, maybe a month or two months, because they might have had severe abdominal surgery and need to rehab, they had heart surgery and needed to do cardiac rehab, or they had some type of orthopedic surgery and needed to learn how to walk again. It is a lot more devastating for the family of someone who was there for a short term rehab if something bad happens, because the family expected that their loved one was supposed to get out of the nursing home, as compared to someone who has been in the nursing home and was going to be there for the rest of their life.
The triggering factor with a person who was going to be there for the rest of their life has to do with the actual facts of what happened and how egregious or how nasty the abuse, neglect or malpractice was. For instance, if the resident is a high fall risk. The nursing home is required to set up a number of fall precautions to protect the resident. These fall precautions may include a low bunk or placing the bed close to the floor, placing matting around the bed, they might need to use bedrails, or maybe they would use a chair alarm or a bed alarm or something along those lines. It would look bad if they did not use these precautions after the staff already witnessed one or two falls. Many times resident's need assistance to go to the bathroom or transfer from the bed to their wheel chair. Again, if the fall precaution requires a two person assist in transferring the resident, and the resident is injured because there was only one aide available or nobody came to help the resident when she was calling for help for 20 minutes, this is an issue.
These issues can be decreased when the resident's family is active and frequently visits the facility because the staff knows that somebody who cares for the resident will be looking over their shoulder.
We see a lot of different cases, although a lot of nursing home employees are dedicated and a lot of nursing homes try to do the right thing, lawyers need to get involved when things go bad and things slip through the cracks, and active family members can help prevent errors.
Do People Ever Hesitate Because People Do Die And The People Of The Nursing Home Were Nice?
Absolutely, because people do die when the nursing home had nothing to do with it. People can also develop bedsores when the nursing home did everything they could do to try and prevent the sores from developing. A stage 1 or a stage 2 bedsore is something that the elderly or people who are bedridden can get, even with the best care. A stage 3 or stage 4 pressure sore would need to be looked at because that has gone too far, and would mean somebody made a mistake and did not do something right. If the staff is receptive, attentive and nice, they usually will not have a problem the first time someone has fallen. However, it can be a problem if the staff is not nice and inattentive to the resident's needs. For instance, if a resident is found on the floor after trying to call the nurse or CNA for 10 minutes they did not want to urinate or defecate all over themselves. Nursing home claims are factually based, which is why person should research any issue they have if they feel their loved one was not properly care for in a nursing facility.
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