Knowing your loved one has been abused or neglected by the staff of a nursing home or a home health aide can be a devastating experience for all involved. That said, there are steps you and others can take to prevent this from happening.

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This overview will cover the basics. Be aware, though, that if your loved one is abused, you could potentially take legal action to seek compensation on their behalf.

How Common Are Nursing Home and Home Health Aide Abuse and Neglect?

Statistics indicate that abuse in nursing homes and at the hands of home health aides is not particularly uncommon. For instance, according to one study from the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, from 1999 to 2001, approximately one in three nursing homes in the U.S. received citations for neglect.

Neglect is also relatively common among home health aides. A study by the National Council on Aging indicates one in 10 Americans over 60 years of age has experienced some form of abuse at the hands of a caregiver.

What Do Nursing Home and Home Health Aide Abuse and Neglect Involve?

Nursing home and home health aide neglect and abuse can take a range of forms. Common examples include the following:

Direct physical abuse, such as hitting

Neglect, in which a caregiver fails to adequately provide for the needs of elderly person

Emotional abuse, such as yelling or belittling

Medical neglect, in which caregivers fail to account for the medical needs of a patient or resident

Financial abuse/exploitation, which may occur if a caregiver steals from an elderly person or coerces them into giving their money, possessions, or assets freely

Sexual abuse

Isolating a patient or resident from others

General abandonment

Be aware that a loved one who is abused or neglected may be reluctant to speak about their experiences due to fear. If they struggle with dementia, limited cognition, memory troubles, or other such difficulties, they also might not thoroughly understand they’re being abused, or they may even forget that abuse has occurred.

Thus, if you strongly suspect a loved one is the victim of abuse, don’t take their word for it if they insist you’re mistaken. Investigate the matter further and strongly consider removing your loved one from the potentially dangerous situation as soon as possible.

 A study by the National Council on Aging indicates one in 10 Americans over 60 years of age has experienced some form of abuse at the hands of a caregiver.

Guarding Against Nursing Home and Home Health Aide Abuse and Neglect: Important Information

Everyone from the loved ones of those who may be in need of home health aide or nursing home services to those who operate nursing home facilities can potentially minimize the odds of an elderly person to be abused. Ways to guard against abuse and neglect include:

Research: Are you considering placing your loved one in a nursing home or hiring a home health aide to care for them? If so, be sure to conduct thorough research. Narrow down your list of options, and remove options from said list if you find any information suggesting a history of neglect or abuse. Additionally, if you’re assessing a nursing home in which you might place your loved one, try to drop by unannounced. This will give you the opportunity to investigate its conditions and the way the staff treats residents.

Background checks: Nursing home owners and those who employ home health aides must conduct thorough background checks when making hiring decisions. This is key to identifying those who might have engaged in abuse or neglect in the past.

Oversight and regulation: Although laws already exist to deter those who might otherwise commit elder abuse or neglect, this continues to be a problem in the U.S. Lawmakers may therefore have to enforce further regulations to address the issue.

The Importance of Taking Legal Action

If your loved one has experienced neglect or abuse at the hands of a home health aide or the staff of a nursing home, they may be eligible for financial compensation. You can seek compensation on their behalf by filing an insurance claim or lawsuit.

Don’t underestimate the potential value of taking legal action in these circumstances. Doing so doesn’t merely allow you to pursue the compensation your loved one deserves. It could also draw attention to abuse or neglect. By showing your loved one’s abusers that there is a price to pay for their actions or negligence, you could protect others from being abused or neglected by them in the future as well.

Just keep in mind that building a case in these circumstances can be a complex task. This is one of many reasons to strongly consider enlisting an attorney’s help. At Swartz & Swartz, P.C., our Boston nursing home and home health aide abuse and neglect lawyers are prepared to offer the representation you and your loved one deserve. Learn more about what we can do for you by contacting us online or calling us at (617) 742-1900.

Need Help?

If you or someone you know, needs help from a lawyer, contact the law offices of Swartz & Swartz, use our live chat, or send us a message using the form below and we’ll get in touch to assess your case and how we can help.

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About the Author: Matthew Dunn
Matthew Dunn is an associate attorney at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. Matthew represents victims of personal injury and employment discrimination. Prior to joining Swartz & Swartz, P.C., Matthew represented both injured workers and insurance companies before the Department of Industrial Accidents. Having represented insurance companies, Matthew has insight on how an insurance company will evaluate and investigate a claim.

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