Get started by searching below:

Nursing Home Neglect

Negligence in Nursing Homes

Quick Answer

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.

What Is Nursing Home Neglect?

Nursing home neglect is a type of elder abuse committed against older adults in assisted living facilities. It involves the substandard care of a resident, or a breach of duty that harms a resident.

Elder Neglect vs Elder Abuse

The NCEA categorizes elder neglect as a type of elder abuse. Elder abuse is the mistreatment of older adults by those in a position of trust. While many types of elder abuse involve direct harm to the victim, neglect causes harm through substandard care or a failure to perform caregiving duties.

Elder neglect can take many forms, including:

  • Abandonment This occurs when someone who is responsible for an elder’s care deserts them, often leaving them in a public place, a nursing facility, or a hospital.
  • Nursing Home Neglect Nursing home neglect is the failure of staff and other responsible individuals to provide adequate care to nursing home residents.
  • Self-Neglect This occurs when an older adult loses the ability to perform adequate self-care but does not get assistance or refuses care.

Although neglect is not as violent as some forms of nursing home abuse, it can be just as harmful to the physical and psychological health of older adults.

Victims of nursing home neglect can take legal action.

Contact our team right now to learn how you might be able to access financial aid and hold negligent facilities accountable.

Quick Facts About Nursing Home Neglect

  • In one study of 2,000 nursing home residents, only 5% of respondents had never experienced or witnessed neglect.
  • According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 15.3% of elder abuse complaints are for neglect.
  • In a 2020 survey from the World Health Organization (WHO), 12% of nursing home employees admitted to neglecting residents within the past year.
  • Caregiver neglect is one of the most underreported forms of elder abuse, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). For every one case that is reported, 57 go unreported.

Types of Nursing Home Neglect

Neglect occurs when a caretaker fails to provide various types of care to an older adult.

There are 4 main types of nursing home neglect:

Medical Neglect

This may occur when nursing home staff members fail to properly attend to or prevent a resident’s medical concerns. This may result in inadequate diabetic care, bedsores, infections, mobility issues, and other problems.

Neglect of Basic Needs

This type of neglect is the failure of a nursing home to provide a resident with enough food, water, or a clean, safe environment.

Neglect of Personal Hygiene

This can be described as the failure of a nursing facility to properly help a resident with dental care, laundry, and bathing.

Social or Emotional Neglect

This may involve ignoring a nursing home resident, leaving them alone, or failing to provide them with enough social and emotional care.

Neglect may stem from or lead to a wide range of issues, including:

Causes of Elder Neglect in Nursing Homes

2018 federal data found that most U.S. assisted living facilities are understaffed — a central cause of nursing home negligence. However, other staffing problems may also contribute to neglect.

Elderly Man in Wheelchair

The main causes of nursing home neglect are:

  • Understaffing

    When a nursing facility does not have enough staff, the employees they do have are overburdened.

    This may lead to increased stress, exhaustion, and a lack of time to properly care for all nursing home residents.

  • Negligent hiring

    This involves hiring caretakers who, based on their criminal backgrounds or actions during past employment, are at high risk of mistreating or neglecting vulnerable older adults.

    Nursing homes should follow a thorough screening process to check an applicant’s criminal background and certifications

  • Inadequate training

    Caretakers who are not properly trained for their roles can slip into patterns of neglect.

    Undertrained caretakers are more likely to make mistakes with medications, mishandle frail elderly residents or residents with mobility issues, and make other mistakes leading to inadequate care.

Warning Signs of Nursing Home Neglect

Those concerned about a nursing home’s quality of care can look for red flags that may indicate neglect.

There are 6 warning signs of nursing home neglect:

Poor Resident Hygiene

Many elderly people need help with personal care, such as brushing their teeth, bathing, and doing their hair. Nursing homes without enough staff members often fail to keep residents clean and healthy.

Unsanitary Living Conditions

A nursing home should provide clean clothing, bedding, rooms, and living areas. In addition, facilities should be free from pests and mold. Make sure your loved one’s room, clothes, and the nursing home in general are clean.

Signs of Inadequate Nutrition

Many residents in neglectful nursing homes suffer from malnutrition and dehydration because they are not receiving enough food and water.Loved ones should look for signs of malnutrition such as tiredness or irritability, complaints of being cold, hair loss, and papery skin.

Loss or Lack of Mobility

Good nursing homes have programs and policies to keep residents as mobile as possible. Keeping active helps residents retain muscle mass and mobility. Neglectful nursing homes often have residents who have lost most or all mobility because they are left sitting or in bed for long periods.

Unexplained Injuries

Poorly equipped facilities are less likely to catch, report, or prevent nursing home negligence, leading to an increase in injuries among residents. Furthermore, if neglectful staff members do not aid them in time, residents may eventually attempt to help themselves, leading to more falls and other serious injuries.

Psychological Issues

Neglect may lead to emotional issues, such as fear of caregivers, a reluctance to open up to staff, or anger and resentment. Constant neglect can cause depression, and some residents may distance themselves from friends and family members as a result.

Have you noticed these warning signs? Contact us today by calling 855-264-6310.

What To Do About Nursing Home Neglect

A data brief released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suggests that nursing home neglect is unfortunately common. From 2013-2017, 31% of nursing homes were cited for a specific quality of care issue at least 5 times.

Elderly Woman Talking

However, steps can be taken to help prevent or end the neglect of nursing home residents.

Preventing Neglect

Help protect loved ones from nursing home neglect by:

  • Carefully Reviewing Nursing Home Facilities Anyone considering a nursing home for a loved one should look for signs of poor nursing home care, such as understaffing and unsanitary living conditions. They should also be aware that price, appearance and online ratings may not guarantee quality of care.
  • Regularly Contacting Loved Ones Frequently visiting loved ones in nursing homes may make it easier to see signs of poor care, such as inadequate hygiene and malnutrition, and to gauge their mood for signs of something amiss. If frequent visits are not possible, keeping in touch through phone calls or other methods is still helpful.
  • Watching for Signs of Neglect or Abuse Simply being aware of the warning signs of nursing home abuse and neglect is key to addressing problems early on.
  • Believing Loved Ones Never dismiss an older adult who complains of neglect — look into it. Refusing to listen to a loved one may discourage them from opening up about potential future problems.

Have you noticed these warning signs? Contact us today by calling 855-264-6310

Reporting Neglect

If a loved one does become the victim of nursing home negligence, take action immediately. Neglect may be a sign of other forms of abuse. It can also have serious consequences for the victim, including depression, permanent disability, or even death.

If a loved one is the victim of nursing home neglect, contact:

  • Local Law Enforcement If a nursing home resident is in immediate physical danger, or in danger of developing serious health issues, call the local police or paramedics. They can remove a resident from a neglectful nursing home and deliver them to a safe location. If the nursing home or care staff has broken any laws, the police will conduct a criminal investigation.
  • A Local Long-Term Care Ombudsman A local ombudsman is a good option in cases where nursing home neglect may be less serious or obvious. Ombudsmen serve as advocates for adults in long-term care facilities. They will address concerns an elder or their loved ones may have, investigate a nursing home for signs of neglect, and help victims take legal action if needed.
  • Adult Protective Services (APS) A state’s APS office will generally be in charge of investigating non-urgent complaints of nursing home neglect and determining how serious the case is.
  • Social Service Workers When investigating a complaint, APS will call on social service workers they are partnered with to address a victim’s health and any safety concerns.
  • A Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer If you suspect that your loved one is the victim of elder abuse or neglect, an experienced nursing home abuse attorney can help. They can give guidance on how to respond in a case of neglect and make sure that the resident’s well-being and legal rights are protected.

Who Is Legally Liable for Nursing Home Neglect?

Who will be legally liable for nursing home neglect can vary in each case. In the past, nursing home staff members, on-site doctors or nurses, and even entire facilities have been held accountable for neglect.

Law enforcement, elder advocacy groups, and nursing home abuse law firms can help you determine who is legally responsible for neglecting your loved one. From there, you can determine what actions to take.

When someone you love has suffered from nursing home neglect, it’s important to take legal action. Filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit can help you take justice against those responsible for harming your loved one and help ensure others won’t have to suffer.

A successful nursing home abuse lawsuit provides financial compensation for your loved one’s injuries that can help pay for treatments and other costs.

Compensation from a lawsuit can cover:
  • Medical Bills
  • Mental Health Therapy
  • Other Expenses

Learn More

Nobody should have to suffer from poor treatment during their most vulnerable years. If your loved one was the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, we can help.

Get a free case review today to see if you or your loved one may be entitled to compensation.

Nursing Home Abuse Support Team

The Nursing Home Abuse Center (NHAC) was founded to bring justice to those affected by nursing home and elder abuse. Our mission is to educate and empower victims of abuse and their families to take a stand against this unlawful mistreatment. We work to return dignity back to those who have been broken down by nursing home abuse and neglect.

View 8 Sources
  1. Hawes, C. (2003). Elder Abuse in Residential Long-Term Care Settings: What Is Known and What Information Is Needed? Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America (14). Retrieved November 19, 2019, from
  2. Blanchard, S. (2016, February 18). 6 Signs of Nursing Home Neglect. Retrieved November 19, 2019, from
  3. Goguen, D. (n.d.). Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Law: Basics: How to identify the signs of elder abuse in a nursing home or other care facility, and what to do about it. Retrieved November 19, 2019, from
  4. National Center on Elder Abuse. (2012). Abuse of Residents of Long Term Care Facilities. Retrieved November 19, 2019, from
  5. Reeves, R. J. (n.d.). Nursing Home Negligence. Retrieved November 19, 2019, from
  6. Institute of Medicine. (2001). Strengthening the Caregiving Work Force. Improving the Quality of Long-Term Care. Retrieved November 19, 2019, from
  7. Hawes, C. & Kimbell, A. (2010). Detecting, Addressing and Preventing Elder Abuse In Residential Care Facilities [PDF file]. Retrieved November 19, 2019, from
  8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2019, April 26). Trends in Deficiencies at Nursing Homes Show That Improvements Are Needed To Ensure the Health and Safety of Residents. Retrieved November 19, 2019, from
Back to Top