When we have nowhere else to turn, we put our trust and the care of our elderly loved ones into the hands of nursing home staff. The last thing we want to discover is that our loved ones have been neglected or abused. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect happen all too often throughout the country.
Even if you’re just starting to consider putting your loved one in a nursing home, it’s important to understand the types of nursing home abuse, how to recognize the signs your loved one is being neglected or abused, the state laws that protect your loved one, and how a Cincinnati nursing home abuse lawyer can help if you find yourself needing legal advice.
Nursing Home Abuse in Ohio
Elder abuse refers to any intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes serious risk or harm to a vulnerable adult. While elder abuse can happen in many places, it often affects the elders in assisted living or nursing home facilities. According to Ohio’s Department of Aging, 16,000 reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation are made each year within the state; however, it is estimated that these reports only represent one in 14 cases.
Even with the federal and state laws that exist to protect nursing home residents from abuse, staff members find ways to commit these heinous acts. If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected, you should immediately file a report. It’s also a good idea to seek legal representation. An experienced attorney can help you seek justice for your loved one.
Long-Term Care Facilities in Cincinnati
According to Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare tool, there are 12 nursing homes within Cincinnati city limits. Only five of those facilities are rated as above average or much above average in regard to health inspections, staffing, and quality measure. Those facilities are:
- Archbishop Leibold Home
- Clifton Care Center
- Margaret Hall Inc.
- Beechwood Home for Incurables
- Mount Notre Dame Health Center
The remaining eight facilities within city limits rank as below average or much below average, including:
- Oak Pavilion Nursing Center
- Lincoln Care Center
- Garden Park Health Care Center
- Astoria Place of Cincinnati
- Ivy Woods Care Center
- Scarlet Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
- Harrison Pavilion Care Center
No matter where your loved one resides, they deserve proper care. If you are concerned about your loved one’s wellbeing, it’s important to be aware of the types and signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. Once you recognize signs of abuse, a lawyer can help you determine if you have grounds for a personal injury claim.
Understanding the Types and Recognizing the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
The National Center on Elder Abuse recognizes the following types of abuse as serious problems: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, neglect, abandonment, financial or material exploitation, and self-neglect. Abandonment and self-neglect are not directly tied to nursing homes. Let’s take a closer look at the types of abuse that are prevalent in elderly care facilities.
Physical abuse occurs when any physical force results in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment. Nursing home staff members may strike, hit, beat, push, shove, shake, slap, kick, pinch, or burn residents. The inappropriate use of drugs or physical restraints is also considered physical abuse.
Your loved one may be a victim of physical abuse if they have bruises, welts, lacerations, broken bones, open wounds, broken glasses, or untreated injuries. If a caregiver refuses to allow you or other visitors to see your loved one alone, be suspicious.
Sexual abuse is defined as non-consensual contact of any kind with an older person. If the person cannot give consent, it is also considered sexual abuse.
The signs of sexual abuse include bruises, unexplained venereal diseases or infections, unexplained bleeding, and torn clothing.
Emotional or Psychological Abuse
Emotional or psychological abuse occurs when anguish, pain, or distress is inflicted through verbal or nonverbal acts. Examples include verbal assaults, insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, and harassment. Psychological abuse can also occur when an elderly person is isolated from their family or fellow residents.
While emotional abuse is not visible to the eye, the signs and symptoms may include being emotionally upset or agitated, being too withdrawn or noncommunicative, or acting out of character.
Neglect is a broader category of abuse; however, it is defined as the refusal or failure to fulfill any part of a person’s obligations or duties to an elder. This typically includes failing to provide life necessities like food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort, and personal safety.
If your loved one is a victim of neglect, they may be dehydrated, malnourished, or dirty. They may have untreated health problems, or they may be living in unsafe or unsanitary living conditions.
Financial or Material Exploitation
Elders are at risk of being financially exploited. Financial or material exploitation is defined as the illegal use of an elder’s funds, property, or assets. If nursing home caregivers have access to bank accounts or credit card information, they may abuse that knowledge. Examples of financial or material exploitation include cashing a check without permission, forging a signature, misusing or stealing money or possessions, or the improper use of power of attorney.
If your loved one is being taken advantage of financially, you may notice sudden changes in their bank account, the inclusion of additional names on bank accounts or powers of attorney, abrupt changes in a will, unexplained money transfers, or unexplained disappearances of valuables.
Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Ohio
In light of the numerous instances of nursing home abuse and neglect, it’s important to become familiar with Ohio’s Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights. This bill establishes what rights are afforded to residents of all nursing home facilities in Ohio.
These rights include:
- The right to be free from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse
- The right to be treated with dignity and respect
- The right to a safe and clean living environment
- The right to have all questions responded to promptly
- The right to adequate medical care
- The right to access their medical records
- The right to clean clothing and bedsheets
- The right to privacy
- The right to file a complaint without the fear of repercussions
- The right to make decisions about their care
- The right to unrestricted communication with family members, social workers, and doctors
- The right to know how much their services cost
- The right to opportunities to remain active
- The right to observe religious obligations
- The right to retain personal possessions
- The right to be free from financial exploitation
If you believe your loved one’s rights are being abused in their long-term care facility, you have the right to pursue legal action on their behalf. The Cincinnati nursing home abuse attorneys from Thomas Law Offices can help.
Protecting Your Loved One From Nursing Home Abuse
Whether you’re in the process of finding the right facility for your family member or you’re beginning to question the care they’re receiving, it’s important to understand what your rights and abilities are when it comes to protecting your loved one’s health and wellbeing.
If you are no longer able to provide your loved one with the care they need to live as high a quality of life as possible, it’s time to start thinking about a long-term care facility. To choose the best facility possible for your loved one’s needs and wants, there are steps you can take.
- Find nursing homes in your area. There are several ways to find local facilities. Start by asking people you trust. You likely have friends or family members living in nursing homes in the area. You can also ask your loved one’s doctor or utilize Medicare’s online tool to see what’s nearby.
- Compare the quality of the facilities. Whether you have a lot of options to choose from or only a few, it’s important to compare the facilities to determine their focus on services and what their track record with residents is like. You can use the Nursing Home Compare tool, call your Long-Term Care Ombudsman, or your state health department or state licensing agency.
- Visit locations you’re interested in. Once your family has compiled a list of possible elder care homes, it’s time to schedule some visits. When you go, look for Medicare and Medicaid certifications, handicap access, residents who look well cared for, and warm interactions between staff and residents.
- Ask questions. During your visit, ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask the staff about any strong odors or slip and fall hazards like loose carpets or tiles. Learn about the director and heads of nursing, food, and social services. This will give you a better idea of how the facility runs on a daily basis. If something feels off, go with your intuition, and move on to the next facility.
- Carefully review the contract. Once a home has been selected, it’s time to read the agreement carefully. Make sure you and your loved one fully understand everything involved and ask questions along the way.
If everything’s in order after following that list, you can help your loved one move into their new home. It’s not always an easy transition into an assisted living or even independent care facility. Still, it’s important to remember that your loved one will have access to the care and services they need.
Unfortunately, even the most detailed vetting process doesn’t guarantee your loved one won’t be mistreated. If you think they’ve been abused or neglect, you have the right to file a report with the state.
If you believe a nursing home facility has allowed your loved one to be abused, you can file a complaint with the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). Keep in mind they usually do not process complaints in which the incident is more than one year old. There are three ways you can report abuse or neglect:
- Call the ODH Complaint Hotline
- Email a complaint to the ODH
- Fill out the ODH Complaint Form (HEA 1685) online
The ODH Complaint Hotline is available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is covered by a real-time intake staff. The hotline’s voicemail is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week, and is checked twice every day. The Complaint Hotline often receives calls regarding ambulatory surgical centers, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disability, home health agencies, hospices, hospitals, residential care facilities, and skilled nursing facilities.
If you choose to email a complaint, you’ll want your email to contain certain information, including your full name, address, and phone number, the individuals involved and affected, the specifics of the complaint, the date, time, and, if possible, frequency of the abuse, a description of any other actions you’ve taken, and your opinion on whether the incident was isolated, why it happened, and if the facility tried to address the situation.
When you fill out a Health Complaint Form, the complaint will be investigated according to the provider type and the complaint’s nature. Two regional offices in Ohio will begin and maintain the investigation. You’ll receive a letter of acknowledgment explaining that the ODH received the complaint, and you’ll receive an additional notice of the outcome of the investigation.
If you file a complaint and the proper actions are not taken, your next step would be to get involved with a Cincinnati nursing home abuse attorney. When you seek help from Thomas Law Offices, we’ll explain your family’s options and help you protect your elderly loved one.
Holding the Negligent Party Responsible with a Cincinnati Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
The effects of nursing home abuse or neglect on your loved one can be detrimental. The physical and psychological effects may have a more significant impact than what is initially realized. While your loved one recovers, you have the right to contact a Cincinnati nursing home abuse lawyer. We can help you hold the negligent party accountable for their actions to seek justice and prevent future abuse cases. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your claim.