It’s not an easy decision to place a loved one in a nursing home; at the back of your mind may be worries about neglect or abuse. It’s estimated that about 2 million cases of abuse occur in nursing homes every year and if you are thinking nursing home abuse: who should be held accountable? it can often be harder than you think trying to answer that question.
One of the biggest difficulties is actually proving abuse, especially as many elderly residents are afraid or embarrassed to talk about it. If you suspect abuse, whether physical, emotional, sexual or financial, you should gather as much information as you can, which includes if possible, talking to the director or senior staff member. There is also a fine line between deliberate abuse and accidental neglect, which can also complicate the situation.
However, whereas most abuse is on the part of nursing home staff, a surprising 20 percent of abuse is carried out by other residents, which can create something of a gray area when it comes to deciding who is accountable. Ultimately, it is the job of the facility to ensure a safe environment for all of its residents, and to make sure that residents capable of such behavior are identified, carefully monitored, and secluded if necessary.
Attorneys for nursing home abuse claims will also tell you that in some abuse cases, a third party contractor is responsible for the abuse. If the nursing home has arrangements with visiting therapists, doctors, nurses, counselors or social workers, who are not actually employed by the facility, and who carry out abuse, they are generally held accountable. It can also be argued that the nursing home must take some blame and should have better vetting systems in place.
In some cases, the facility may not be responsible for the abuse at all. If a piece of medical equipment fails to work as it should, if the food provided by an outside vendor causes illness, or a walker causes a resident to slip, the fault clearly isn’t that of the nursing home. By law, all states have an ombudsman whose job it is to investigate complaints of nursing home abuse, and if you suspect abuse but just aren’t getting anywhere with the facility, you should contact them. And it may be time to contact an attorney specializing in nursing home abuse, ho can help you determine just who is at fault.