What steps should I take if I think a loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Discovering or suspecting that a loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home can be a distressing and alarming situation. It is crucial to take immediate action to protect your loved one and address the situation. The following are critical steps you should take if you believe a loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home.

Ensure Your Loved One’s Safety

If you believe your loved one is in immediate danger or requires urgent medical attention, contact emergency services or the appropriate authorities right away. The safety and well-being of your loved one should be the top priority.

Document and Gather Evidence

Collect any evidence that supports your concerns about abuse or neglect. Take photographs of any visible injuries, document the dates and times of incidents or observations, and keep a record of any conversations or interactions related to the suspected abuse or neglect.

Communicate with Your Loved One

Talk to your loved one privately and compassionately about your concerns. Encourage them to share their experiences, observations, or any instances of mistreatment they may have endured. Ensure that they feel supported and reassured throughout the process.

Report the Abuse or Neglect

Contact the appropriate authorities to report the suspected abuse or neglect. This may include the local law enforcement agency, adult protective services, or the state’s long-term care ombudsman program. Provide them with the documented evidence and any other relevant information.

Notify the Nursing Home

Inform the management or administration of the nursing home about your concerns. Follow the facility’s reporting procedures and request an immediate investigation into the alleged abuse or neglect. Be sure to maintain a record of all communications with the facility.

Consult with an Attorney

Seek legal advice from a Virginia personal injury attorney specializing in elder law or nursing home abuse cases. An attorney can guide you through the legal process, help protect your loved one’s rights, and assist in pursuing legal action against the responsible parties if necessary.

Obtain Medical Evaluation

Arrange for a thorough medical evaluation of your loved one’s physical and mental health. This evaluation can document any injuries, signs of neglect, or the impact of emotional abuse. Ensure that the medical professional is aware of your concerns and provides a comprehensive assessment.

Document Financial Matters

If financial exploitation is suspected, carefully review your loved one’s financial records and accounts for any signs of unauthorized transactions, missing funds, or changes in financial arrangements. If necessary, consult with a financial advisor or attorney who specializes in elder financial abuse.

Support and Advocate for Your Loved One

Offer emotional support to your loved one during this challenging time. Keep lines of communication open, attend meetings with nursing home staff or administrators together, and advocate for their rights and well-being.

Follow Up and Seek Justice

Stay involved and follow up with the appropriate authorities to ensure that the investigation progresses. If abuse or neglect is substantiated, work with your attorney to pursue legal action to hold the responsible parties accountable and seek justice for your loved one.

Remember, every situation is unique, and the specific actions you take will depend on the circumstances and laws in your jurisdiction. It is important to consult with professionals who can provide guidance and support throughout the process of addressing nursing home abuse or neglect and advocating for your loved one’s rights.