Elder Abuse Resources for Nursing Home Residents
Abuse can leave nursing home residents physically injured, emotionally scarred, financially devastated, or sexually victimized.
When a family first learns of a nursing home abuse incident, they may not know where to turn, but resources are available to help families protect their loved ones from nursing home abuse.
A wide range of programs, services, and agencies exist to help seniors choose the best nursing home for them, report abuse and neglect if it occurs, and leave a nursing home if it is necessary.
Important nursing home abuse resources include:
- Abuse hotlines
- Hospice care facilities
- Medicare, Medicaid, and other health care programs
- State and federal nursing home abuse laws
Specific resources also exist for certain groups of seniors, including veterans, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Below, discover important resources for victims of nursing home abuse and their families.
How to Find a Quality Nursing Home
Nursing homes should keep seniors healthy and happy while they live out the rest of their lives. But not all nursing homes are created equal. Choosing a top-notch nursing home is crucial to keeping elders safe, and there are resources in place to help in this process.
One such resource is called Nursing Home Compare, which was developed by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to help people compare nursing homes in their area.
The site ranks nursing homes based on:
- Health inspections
- Level of staffing
- Quality measures
Nursing Home Compare ranks nearby care facilities using a five-star rating system. As of Fall 2019, the site also warns visitors about nursing homes that were recently cited for abuse or neglect. A red icon with a white hand appears next to these nursing home entries.
Removing a Patient From a Nursing Facility
Sometimes, families may need to remove their loved ones from a nursing home.
Common reasons to leave a nursing home include:
- The care provided does not match — or cannot meet — the resident’s needs
- The family has found a better care facility for the resident
- The resident can no longer afford to live at the facility
- The resident has suffered from abuse or neglect
Choosing to leave a nursing home can be a difficult decision. Some residents may have already settled into life at a nursing home, while others may not be able to make their own choices if they suffer from certain mental or physical health problems.
In the latter case, a designated legal advocate will decide where the senior will live. This advocate is usually a family member, but it can be a lawyer or anyone who has been given the power of attorney by the senior.
Families looking to transition a loved one out of nursing home care can access a number of programs and resources to help move the process along. One important resource is called Money Follows the Person.
This government-established program encourages seniors to get care at home rather than relying on nursing homes. This can allow seniors to regain some independence they may have lost while they lived in a nursing home. As of 2019, 44 states participate in the program.
If a resident has suffered from nursing home abuse or neglect, families should remove their loved one from the facility and contact local authorities (such as the police) to report the abuse.
Nursing Home Reform Act
Established in 1987, the Nursing Home Reform Act helps ensure that residents receive proper physical, mental, and emotional care. This makes it one of the most important nursing home abuse resources, as regulations prior to the act were too loose to protect seniors from abuse and neglect.
Required services nursing homes must provide under the act include:
- Access to dietary and medicinal care
- Access to a full-time social worker
- Access to social, nursing, and rehabilitative care
- A comprehensive care plan
- Periodic assessment of their health
Nursing home facilities that want to apply for state funding — including Medicaid and Medicare Services — must comply with the Nursing Home Reform Act.
Each state is responsible for certifying that a nursing home complies with the Nursing Home Reform Act. To this end, states can conduct unannounced surveys at nursing homes and interview residents about their quality of care.
If the facility violates guidelines set by the act, the state may:
- Fine the facility
- Monitor the facility
- Manage the facility temporarily
- Suspend or cut off the facility’s funding
The Nursing Home Reform Act also established a resident Bill of Rights to further protect residents.
Nursing Home Reform Act and Residents’ Rights
As defined by the Nursing Home Reform Act, nursing home residents have certain rights that are protected by the law.
According to the Residents’ Bill of Rights, residents have the right to:
- Be treated without physical restraints
- Free communication
- Make their own choices, including about their care
- The meeting of their mental, physical, and social needs
- Voice complaints
These rights are in place to protect the privacy, medical needs, and dignity of every resident and to protect them from abuse.
Resources for Veterans in Nursing Homes
Veterans are entitled to extra protection and resources due to their military service.
According to the 2016 census, 50% of U.S. veterans were over the age of 65. And a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society notes that veterans may also be at a higher risk of elder abuse since they have a higher risk of physical and mental health problems.
Important veterans resources include:
VA Health Care
Through the Veterans Health Administration, veterans can receive high-quality health care as they age.
Veteran-Specific Nursing Homes
These nursing homes have been established by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to cater specifically to aging veterans. There are many different VA-affiliated nursing homes throughout the country.
Other VA Benefits
Veterans who need the care of another person to live (aid and attendance) or cannot leave their home due to a disability (housebound) may qualify for a higher VA pension.
Veterans and their families can learn more about specific resources and benefits by going to the official VA website.
Resources for LGBTQ+ Residents
According to a May 2018 report from SAGE, an LGBTQ+ senior advocacy group, there are nearly 3 million LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. today that are over the age of 50. These seniors face unique hardships as they age and may be at risk for LGBTQ+ related abuse in nursing homes.
LGBTQ+ seniors are:
- 48% more likely to experience poor treatment while looking for senior housing
- Twice as likely to live alone without a partner
- Four times less likely to have children
In addition, 34% of seniors fear that they will have to conceal their LGBTQ+ status to live in a nursing home or another senior care facility. Fortunately, organizations across the country help LGBTQ+ seniors adapt and thrive as they age.
LGBTQ+ senior resources include:
- SAGE: This organization advocates for the rights of LGBTQ+ seniors across the country. It also runs the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, which provides local and national resources to seniors.
- The National LGBTQ Task Force: This national advocacy group highlights the needs of LGBTQ+ seniors all across the country and helps people take action.
By connecting with national and local resources, LGBTQ+ seniors can learn how to stay safe as they age.
Resources for Women in Nursing Homes
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, women over the age of 65 were more than twice as likely to suffer from violent crime than men of the same age. Furthermore, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that women suffer from elder abuse more often than men.
In light of these problems, families should closely monitor women in nursing homes and take action if they show any signs of abuse.
Notable nursing home abuse resources for women include:
- The Office on Women’s Health: This government agency provides resources about different types of abuse, violence, and safe relationships. Women can also call the agency’s abuse resource hotline to figure out their next steps.
- Women Against Abuse: This organization helps women of all ages recover from abuse and offers a wealth of different resources for those seeking help.
There are also state and local abuse hotlines where women and their families can report abuse or neglect.
Faith-Based Nursing Home Resources
Some seniors may choose to live in a nursing home that best suits their religious needs. Religion can be a great comfort to seniors as they face the transitions and challenges that come with living in a nursing home, such as relying on others for their care.
Thankfully, there are a number of faith-based support options for seniors in nursing homes.
Common religious nursing home resources include:
- Faith-based nursing homes: These nursing homes and assisted living organizations allow residents to live with others of their denomination.
- Chaplains and clergy: Most, but not all, nursing homes will have a chaplain or spiritual adviser to provide spiritual care to residents and run faith-based activities like Bible studies.
- Volunteers: Church members often volunteer their time to visit nursing home residents and spend time with them. This helps residents stay connected with others who share their faith.
Hospice Care for Nursing Home Residents
Some nursing home residents will need hospice care toward the end of their lives. Rather than focusing on treatment for an illness or injury, hospice care keeps patients healthy and comfortable.
Nursing home residents can receive hospice care at:
- A full-time hospice facility
- A nursing home
- Their own home
Medicare and Medicaid both cover hospice care, though they may not cover all expenses depending on each case.
When a loved one makes the transition into hospice care, families should monitor their health care. Much like in nursing homes, some hospice care residents have suffered due to negligence and abuse.
In fact, a five-year study from the Office of the Inspector General found that most U.S. hospices that accepted Medicare had at least one type of care deficiency.
Other Nursing Home Abuse Resources
Outside of the resources listed above, dozens of organizations, programs, and advocacy groups around the country strive to keep nursing home residents safe from abuse. Explore other important resources and organizations below.
Federal Government Departments and Agencies
- National Center on Elder Abuse
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- Department of Health and Human Services
- National Institutes of Health
- Agency for Health Care Research and Quality
Elder Care and Nursing Home Websites
- San Diego County Council on Aging
- Elder Options of Texas
- Montana Independent Living Project
- Special Needs Chicago Transportation
- Patriarch Placement
Learn More About Nursing Home Abuse Resources
By accessing nursing home abuse resources, families can help keep their loved ones in nursing homes safe. Families can also learn more about the actions they can take if they suspect abuse or neglect.
To access other resources — and get help if your loved one was abused — get a free case review today. Our team can help you connect with important medical and legal options.