What Are the Responsibilities of a Nursing Home?

When you make the decision to place your loved one in a nursing home, you have the right to expect that your loved one will be properly cared for. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse continues to be a serious problem throughout the country. In fact, according to the National Center for Elder Abuse, one out of every three nursing homes in the United States have citations for abuse, and as many as 44% of nursing home residents indicate they have suffered from abuse. Even more startling is the fact that 95% have indicated they had either seen neglect or been neglected themselves. These statistics are sobering for those who are looking to enlist the help of a nursing home with the care for their loved ones.

Sadly, many instances of abuse are not properly reported. This leaves vulnerable individuals at even greater risk. Families of those in nursing homes need to know the responsibilities that the modern nursing home has, so they can hold their loved one's caretakers to a high standard.

The Responsibility to Provide Adequate Care

First and foremost, a nursing home and its staff have a responsibility to provide adequate physical and emotional care for residents. According to Medicare.gov, this includes:


·      Offering proper medical care

·      Treating residents with respect

·      Not using restraints in their care

·      Protecting residents against involuntary transfer or discharge

·      Allowing residents to spend time with visitors and participate in groups or activities.


If your loved one is not receiving this level of care, the nursing home is failing to fulfill its duties and could be held liable for negligence or abuse.

The Responsibility to Protect Residents

In addition to the responsibility to provide adequate care, nursing homes have a legal responsibility to protect their residents from abuse. Abuse can come in many forms, including physical abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse and emotional abuse. The facility should also protect residents from any form of discrimination. If a nursing home resident falls victim to abuse or discrimination, the abuser and the nursing home as an entity may be held liable.

The Responsibility to Report Abuse

Finally, nursing homes have the responsibility to report abuse or suspected abuse as soon as it is discovered. Sadly, this is where many fall short. Even those that work hard to protect their residents may not report abuse in a timely manner when someone is found guilty, and many try to cover up instances of abuse.

Current federal law requires that someone who suspects bodily injury abuse must report that suspicion to the local law enforcement within two hours. Abuse that does not involve serious bodily injury needs to be reported within 24 hours. Nursing homes that fail to do this face large fines from the federal government.


Spotting Abuse

Even though a nursing home has a responsibility to protect its residents and provide adequate care, statistics show that this is not always achieved.  Loved ones need to know what signs may indicate abuse is occurring. Some common signs of abuse include:

·      Emotional withdrawal

·      Physical injuries with no clear explanation

·      Missing money

·      Bedsores

·      Agitation

·      Malnutrition

·      Unusual behavior changes.

If you are noticing these signs in your loved one, it's time to dig a little deeper. Talking with a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can help you understand your options and the rights your loved one has. Remember, those in the care of a nursing home are among the most vulnerable in the population, so it's up to the rest of us to ensure they are protected from abuse and neglect.