Types of Abuse

Ninety-three percent of all assisted living facilities have programs in place to serve the elderly who can no longer care for themselves. Twenty-five per cent of all assisted living facilities care for cognitively impaired residents, who comprise half of their total populations. In recent years, assisted living facilities have been under attack, with claims being made that they operate as nursing homes but do not have the proper licensing. These facilities are no subject to standard nursing home regulations and may or may not receive regular inspections. In fact, it is not possible to determine exactly how many people live in U.S. assisted living facilities because assisted living has no accepted definition and no systematic manner for counting these facilities, although estimates for the current number of beds are as high as 1.5 million. Residential care facilities do not far much better. Often referred to as adult care homes, residential care facilities often are not licensed and have no licensed personnel. While residential care facilities cannot administer medical services or medications, this means they are not subject to state inspections and regulations regarding staffing and other requirements.

Types of assisted living abuse that can occur include:

Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes - When a nursing home staff member uses physical force or restraints to ensure a patient complies with a command, this is physical abuse. The patient has a right to remain free from physical abuse while in a nursing home. Restraints can include physically tying a patient to the bed and over-sedating a patient, which is known as chemical restraint.

Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes – Sexual abuse occurs when a nursing home staff member commits a sexual act with a non-consenting patient. The patient may be unable to respond or resist due to physical or mental limitations. In any case, sexual advances on the part of a staff member constitute sexual abuse.

Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes – When a staff member uses verbal communication or non-verbal signals to torment a patient, causing emotional anguish, this is emotional abuse.  When a staff member promises to change bed sheets, help the patient use the toilet, or offer other types of assistance and the staff member does not fulfill those promises, this can also be construed as emotional abuse.

Neglect in Nursing Homes – Neglect is a type of “abuse by omission”. In other words, no abusive act has occurred. That’s exactly why it is considered abusive. For example, failure to provide hygiene or nutrition by simply ignoring the patient’s needs is neglect. Because a patient and the family pay for nursing services, neglect, or failure to provide those services, is punishable under elder abuse laws.

Abandonment in Nursing Homes - Leaving a patient to fend for him or herself is abandonment. The patient is admitted with the understanding he or she will receive round-the-clock care. Desertion of a patient abuses the patient’s rights.

Financial Abuse in Nursing Homes - A patient's family pays the nursing home for services rendered by the staff. Misuse of the payment, for example by not providing the requisite nursing services, breaches the patient’s right to nursing services for which the family has paid and expects.

Failing to bring nursing home abuse to light by prosecuting to the full extent of the law is the only way these terrible crimes against the elderly are allowed to continue. Instead, contact a nursing home abuse attorney immediately if you suspect abuse, so that you can take rightful action against the facility and protect the life of your loved one and that of others.

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