Know the Most Common Complaints the Elderly Face in Nursing Homes and the Available Mechanisms for Relatives to File a Claim and Protect Their Loved Ones
Aging is a natural process; thankfully, people live longer, healthier lives. Frequently the elderly reach an age when they cannot take complete care of themselves. Assisted living centers provide essential daily care, such as helping residents with their medications and ensuring they eat regularly. Seniors live in their apartments or condominiums and participate in various community activities. There is some supervision, and medical staff provides any necessary care, but for the most part, the seniors are independent.
Why Families Choose Nursing Home Care for their Loved Ones
As we age, we need more help with daily tasks and cannot look after ourselves. Physical conditions such as osteoporosis, stroke, heart disease, or other debilitating illnesses can inhibit our ability to move about or weaken us. Mental issues such as dementia or Alzheimer’s can impair our ability to think, dress, speak, or understand language.
To keep our elderly family members safe, sometimes it is best to admit them into a nursing home. It is not an easy decision, and there is a stigma attached to using care facilities, but if round-the-clock care is necessary for many families, it may be the best option. Nursing homes provide safety that perhaps isn’t possible at home. The installations are built specifically for a senior’s needs to prevent accidents. Also, medication management is another safety issue. Accidentally doubling a dose or forgetting to take medication could lead to an emergency.
In a nursing home, specialists give medication, watch for symptoms of reactions to new medications, and make recommendations to the health support staff. Providing housekeeping for nursing home residents allows them to enjoy their surroundings without having to muster up the strength to wash clothes and dishes or do the housecleaning. Elderly care facilities also provide something significant to everyone’s health and well-being: companionship. In their little community, seniors can play cards, watch movies, do arts and crafts, enjoy music, and much more.
Understanding Common Injuries in Nursing Homes in NJ
Any time an elderly person is hurt at a senior residential care facility, it is considered a nursing home injury. The elderly have a greater risk of certain health conditions such as sprains, strains, broken bones, or severe infections. Although their family has placed them in a facility to prevent those injuries from taking place, sometimes they still do. Nursing home abuse is a reality that can leave seniors sick, disabled, and traumatized.
Bedrail injuries are caused when an extremity becomes stuck between the mattress and the bed rail. Also, sometimes the frailest of residents will become pressed between the bed rail and the mattress, making it difficult for them to breathe. According to the Commission on Nursing Home Safety, which investigated from 2016-2020 into bed rail accidents, approximately 4,000 bedrail accidents occur in nursing homes every year, and nearly 50% result in fatalities.
Bedsores are another common nursing home injury. They are caused when blood flow is lost to areas of the skin for an extended period. They are ubiquitous in areas with little muscle or fat, such as the ankles, tailbone, and hips. They must be treated immediately, as they can quickly worsen and become infected, sometimes into the bone. Bedsores are especially dangerous for diabetics or others who are immunologically compromised. These patients succumb to sepsis more readily, and the result often is death.
Broken bones are another common injury in nursing homes. Falling out of bed, slipping on a wet floor, tripping over something on the floor, or having a dizzy spell that causes a loss of balance can cause dangerous falls leading to broken bones such as arms, wrists, hips, and legs. Broken bones are a danger to the elderly because they limit their mobility even further in some cases. Broken bones also take much longer to heal than in younger people.
The final most common injury suffered by nursing home residents is infection. Influenza, COVID-19, pneumonia, gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, and sepsis are typical infections. Seniors who are ill or weakened are less likely to combat infection, as would a non-disabled person. Skin conditions such as pressure sores, herpes zoster, and scabies can become infected and lead to sepsis.
What Are the Most Common Complaints About Nursing Home Care?
When a nursing home doesn’t have enough staff, response times can be a problem. The recommended ratio is one nurse or healthcare staff member for every two residents. This is the ideal and not always a possibility when a nursing home is entirely to the gills and understaffed. When there aren’t enough caregivers, residents can be slow to receive the care they need, and situations such as being left too long in their beds or wheelchairs, being left in the dining areas unable to return to their room, or falling and hurting themselves in an attempt to get up without help.
No one expects the food from a nursing home cafeteria to be incredibly fancy pushing the envelope regarding flavors and textures with innovative dishes every night of the week. It’s understandably challenging to ensure that everyone is given nourishing meals that meet their dietary needs. Still, some nursing homes cut corners by using poor-quality ingredients and few fresh fruits and vegetables. A varied meal and snack menu is a priority for nursing homes with high standards.
The Feeling of Isolation
If a resident’s family doesn’t visit much, the resident can feel alone and socially isolated. It is known that social interaction improves the health and well-being of the residents. Being socially isolated can increase the risk of dementia by 50%. Group activities are great for a nursing home to get the residents together and forge friendships. Some nursing homes schedule regular visits from storytellers, musicians, dancers, and other artists. Also, trips to the mall, a local church, or a park can ease feeling alone for the more mobile patients.
Abuse and Neglect
Unfortunately, some nursing home residents experience abuse and neglect. Workers can become overwhelmed and frustrated when the patient-to-worker ratio is too high. Neglect is sometimes witnessed, such as withholding food or medication or not moving residents to avoid pressure sores. That frustration may be taken out on the resident verbally or physically. Yelling, slapping, shaking, or threatening can occur when staff is overworked. Psychological abuse, such as insults or derogatory language, is also problematic. Residents with cognitive problems such as dementia and Alzheimer’s who have reached a certain level of illness cannot speak or tell anyone what is happening. Family members or friends need to check in on them frequently and look for possible signs of abuse.
How to Take Action after Identifying Nursing Home Negligent Care in New Jersey
It may be counter-intuitive to report the neglect or abuse you suspect to the facility’s administration. Still, it is valuable to start a paper trail if further investigation is needed. It is essential to visit your loved one frequently, at different times during the day. Maybe you will come for breakfast one day or coffee in the afternoon another. That will give you a fuller picture of what your loved one is experiencing.
All nursing homes have a procedure for filing complaints. Read the complaint policy carefully and note when and how you will be addressed as to what changes will be made. Keep everything in writing. Even if the agreement is verbal, follow it up with an email. It is vital that you have visible evidence of the process.
Legal Options Available for Families of NJ Nursing Home Injury Victims
If you suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected in a long-term care facility, you have a right to take legal action. You can begin by formalizing a complaint with the facility directly. Familiarize yourself with their policies regarding complaints, how they are handled, and what kind of action you can expect to be taken. Be sure to keep calm. Don’t make accusations or threaten to take legal action. This may incite defensiveness on their part. It is hard to see a loved one not receive the care they deserve, but causing a kerfuffle is unproductive and could worsen things.
If the nursing home does not address your concerns, you can file a complaint with the New Jersey State Ombudsman or the New Jersey Department of Health. Government agencies have extensive resources and access to records from thousands of facilities, but they can resolve concerns slowly.
Protect Your Loved Ones in New Jersey with Trustworthy Hamilton Nursing Home Injury Lawyers
A lawyer can immediately begin an investigation, hiring specialists to examine the evidence and building a nursing home negligence case for your loved one against the healthcare facility that has been neglecting them. At Cohen & Riechelson, our nursing home injury attorneys are highly skilled at building a case that holds nursing homes accountable when they try to cut corners or neglect their residents in Ewing, Princeton, Burlington, Hopewell, Hamilton, Pennington, Trenton, Mercer County, or elsewhere in New Jersey.
Whether it’s a wrongful death, slip and fall, neglect, or abuse, we investigate to acquire the necessary facts for a successful judgment in your favor. When a nursing home doesn’t meet its legal obligations, it can cause actual harm to its residents. If a resident needed help going to the bathroom and fell, breaking their hip, that could be life-endangering. Our job is to ensure the facility follows the rules and that you and your family receive compensation for their carelessness.