Nursing home employees can provide a valuable service. Unfortunately, whether because of understaffing, lack of supervision or poorly managed facilities, the residents may become victims of neglect.
Because nursing home residents may fear retribution from facility staff, they may not report mistreatment or neglect. As a family member or advocate for one of these individuals, it is essential to recognize signs of neglect and report them to someone who can help.
What neglect looks like
Obvious signs of neglect in a nursing home environment may include lack of bathing, soiled bedding and a room that needs cleaning. Some of the other signs are more difficult to identify, such as when a normally friendly and outgoing individual becomes withdrawn or uncommunicative. They could be signs of neglect or abuse, but they could also result from physical or mental decline. When in doubt, though, it is in the patient’s best interest to discuss the situation with someone in charge.
How to report it
Express concerns to facility staff or management and see if they can provide a satisfactory explanation or resolution. If lingering doubts or concerns remain, the next step is to file a complaint with the State Department of Health. The person filing the complaint has the right to remain anonymous, and the information will be confidential.
Regardless of age or physical and mental capacity, every patient has the right to dignity and respectful treatment. Facilities that care for these people have an obligation to meet their needs and treat them with kindness. When this does not happen, the Indiana Department of Health can help to address the problem.