When your loved one enters a nursing home, they do so with the assumption they will be cared for and provided with the necessities they need to be comfortable, happy, and healthy. Unfortunately, there are times where that does not happen. While we often think of nursing home abuse happening between a staff member and a resident, there are instances where resident-to-resident abuse occurs. When this happens, it’s possible a case of assault and battery could arise.
What Is Assault and Battery?
Assault and battery is one of the more common criminal offenses. Legally, assault refers to making someone think you will cause them harm. This means that there does not have to be actual harm for an assault to have taken place. A verbal threat is enough to constitute assault. Battery occurs when someone is physically harmed. Unlike assault, battery occurs without warning or fear. When an assault and battery case occurs, it means someone has been simultaneously threatened and harmed.
Common examples of assault and battery in a nursing home setting between two residents include:
- Sexual Assault
Resident-to-resident assault and battery cases typically arise when there is a serious dispute between residents or when one resident suffers from a medical condition that results in violent outbursts. Regardless of the cause, the nursing home facility is required to ensure all residents are safe. This includes monitoring residents and preventing instances of abuse.
Resident-to-Resident Mistreatment Risk Factors
Resident-to-resident abuse seriously affects all residents involved. Unfortunately, the majority of incidents go unreported. While the research regarding this type of abuse is limited, there are a number of identifiable risk factors.
There are a number of factors related to residents that impact the chances of resident-to-resident assault and battery occurring. The first is having a significant cognitive impairment like dementia or mental illness. When a resident has behavioral symptoms related to cognitive impairment, they may be a disruption to others. The behavioral symptoms can include yelling, calling for help, enter others’ rooms without permission, and repetitive behaviors. Another risk factor that increases the chances of abuse is residents who have a history of negative interactions with other residents or are known to be aggressive.
In addition to the resident characteristics, there are facility characteristics that are risk factors for resident-to-resident abuse. The main characteristic is inadequate staffing. When there are not enough employees to care for residents, it’s likely that violent incidents could be overlooked. Issues can also arise when the staff lacks training regarding individualized care. They may not know how to care for someone with dementia or other mental health needs. In conjunction with that, facilities can run into problems if they have a high number of residents with dementia.
While the facility characteristics above are related to care, there are others that are specifically related to environment. When a nursing home has a lack of meaningful activities, crowded common areas, or excessive noise, instances of assault and battery are more likely to happen.
Potential Signs of Assault and Battery in Nursing Homes
Finding evidence of assault and battery in a long-term care facility can be challenging. But it’s likely that those committing the acts of abuse could be targeting individuals who have few visitors, difficulty speaking, or medical conditions like dementia.
If your loved one is in a nursing home and you’re concerned about their wellbeing, it’s important to be aware of the warning signs of abuse. For example, if you visit your loved one and they appear withdrawn and are unwilling to discuss new injuries, it’s crucial to speak with staff members to determine what’s going on. If the employees are unwilling to discuss the matter with you or claim to know nothing about any injuries, you’ll want to speak with management and determine if you want to have your family member moved to a different location.
If your loved one has been harmed by another resident at their facility, you may notice the following common assault and battery signs:
- Bruises, wounds, lacerations
- Unexplained injuries
- Broken bones or fractures
- Torn or bloody clothing
- Hair loss
- Anxiety or depression
Removing Your Loved One From a Dangerous Situation
If your loved one has received care that is less than they deserve or they have been harmed in any way, it’s crucial to remove them from that nursing home facility as quickly as possible. After you’ve done that, you may want to take legal action against the person or entity that harmed your loved one. To do so, it’s often in your best interest to work with an experienced lawyer who has the resources to build a strong personal injury claim on behalf of your family. If you’re ready to take legal action, schedule a free consultation with us today.