All nursing homes are required by law to have abuse and neglect policies in place to keep residents safe. Sadly, abuse still occurs because of burnout, understaffing, poor hiring practices, and other factors. Learn more about nursing home abuse and neglect policies and how you can protect elderly loved ones.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Policies Explained
State and federal laws mandate that nursing facilities follow policies aimed at preventing abuse and neglect. The goal is to keep residents safe by ensuring they and their families know their rights. Staff members also must be properly trained to prevent and report abuse.
Unfortunately, cases of nursing home abuse and neglect still happen despite these policies. Thankfully, there are ways for victims of nursing home abuse and their families to take action in these situations.
To stay safe, residents and families can:
- Learn about nursing home abuse and neglect policies
- Report any instances of abuse to proper authorities
- Take legal action with the help of a nursing home abuse lawyer
Does Every Nursing Home Have Policies To Protect Residents From Abuse?
Yes, every nursing home must have policies to keep residents safe. It is both state and federal law.
“To protect the well-being of residents, nursing facilities must develop and implement written policies related to reporting allegations of abuse, neglect, mistreatment, injuries of unknown source, and misappropriation of resident property (allegations of abuse or neglect)…It is both required and expected that nursing facilities will report any and all allegations of abuse or neglect to ensure resident safety.”
— Office of Inspector General (OIG)
However, just because policies are in place doesn’t mean they are being enforced. This is why instances of abuse and neglect continue to make national headlines every year.
How Nursing Home Abuse Policies Are Created
Nursing home policies are tailored so staff members will be able to properly care for residents and file reports if abuse or neglect occurs. These policies also help residents understand what they can do to make sure their concerns are heard.
Nursing home policies may outline the following rules and procedures:
- Admission and discharge policies
- Food and nutrition plans
- Health services the facility offers
- The rights of residents
- Training requirements for staff
It is important for residents and their families to understand their nursing home’s policies. This helps everyone to know what to expect and who is responsible for preventing abuse and neglect at every stage.
Why Are Nursing Home Abuse Policies Violated?
Nursing home staff members may break policies safe due to a variety of issues.
These issues include:
- Burnout: Burnout can increase caregiver stress and make them more likely to commit abuse or neglect. This isn’t an excuse for bad behavior, but it is important to watch out for nursing home facilities that overwork their staff. These facilities may have more instances of abuse.
- Understaffing: If a nursing home is understaffed, caregivers may not be able to regularly meet the needs of all residents, making instances of nursing home neglect more common. Understaffing can also contribute to burnout and stress.
- Poor Hiring: Nursing homes that do not follow good hiring procedures may bring on employees who refuse to properly care for residents or ones who make critical mistakes. Talking to other families with loved ones at a nursing home facility can be a good way to see what others think of the staff and if the care they provide is good.
- Fear: When it comes to reporting instances of abuse, staff members may be afraid to file a report — other staffers or administrators may retaliate. This can be a serious problem, because a toxic work culture at a nursing home can create a dangerous environment for seniors.
What Other Regulations Are In Place To Protect Nursing Home Residents?
There are local, state, and federal laws which regulate how nursing homes are allowed to operate. These laws can help keep residents safe and protect them from abuse.
Local and state laws regulate a wide range of nursing home procedures. For example, state and local laws often dictate who is allowed inside of nursing homes. During the pandemic, most states and localities passed regulations which severely limited who can travel in and out of nursing homes with the goal of reducing the spread of COVID-19.
Federal laws control programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, as well as laws that mandate the reporting of abuse by nursing home staff (the Elder Justice Act). Federal laws are in place to ensure that there are national standards for nursing homes which are met everywhere.
What Should I Do If a Nursing Home Abuse Policy Has Been Violated?
These are never good excuses as to why someone violated a nursing home abuse policy – and perpetrators need to be brought to justice.
If you believe your loved one has suffered from nursing home abuse or neglect despite policies being in place to protect them, you need to take action.
- Write down the incident in as much detail as you can
- Contact an ombudsman, an advocate for residents who can help handle complaints and ensure that their rights are protected
- Call 911 if there’s a medical emergency or crime may have been committed
- Move the resident to a hospital or a safer nursing home if needed
- Connect with a lawyer to discuss your legal options
All of these actions can help you protect your loved one and prevent nursing home abuse from worsening. If no action is taken, nursing home abuse or neglect may continue and cause more harm. This can result in a dangerous situation for elder residents.
Learn More About Nursing Home Abuse & Policies
When nursing home policies fail to keep residents safe, the facility and the staff need to be brought to justice. Nobody’s loved one should have to live at an abusive or neglectful nursing home. Thankfully, there are ways you can take action right now.
Reach out to our team for a free case review. We’ll help you determine if you are eligible to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit that allows you to hold an abusive facility accountable.