It is unknown how many of our vulnerable elderly fall victim to neglect or abuse each year since such actions are easily hidden from view and underreported. In fact, according to the National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA), 84 percent of abusive situations involving older adults go unreported or unrecognized.
The shocking video dominated national news headlines: a 20-year-old man repeatedly punching a 75-year-old nursing home resident confined to his bed. The facility, Westwood Nursing Center in Detroit, Michigan, took the older man to the hospital, claiming he had fallen from his bed. It was only after the perpetrator posted the video to social media that the public learned something much more sinister was going on. The 20-year-old man was arrested, and Adult Protective Services and Michigan state inspectors were both notified. They are investigating the incident, although Westwood remains on lockdown due to the threat of COVID-19.
To make matters worse, investigative journalists did some digging and found that Westwood Nursing Center has a long history of complaints regarding abuse and neglect. According to Medicare, which provides a tool for the public to compare nursing homes, Westwood has a 2-star rating (out of 5) for staffing issues and another 2-star rating for quality measures. Michigan investigators found that the nursing home did not provide proper wound care for residents, mismanaged residents’ prescription medications, and often allowed residents to live in squalid conditions—such as leaving vomit on the curtains and floor of a room for a full week without cleaning it up.
These stories are horrifying, especially for people who have placed a loved one in a nursing home. So how can you ensure that your elderly relative won’t end up at a facility known for substandard care?
First, use Medicare.gov’s Nursing Home Compare tool, available for free on its website. The tool allows you to compare up to three different nursing homes at a time and view the facility’s ratings in areas including health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. Medicare also places a red hand icon next to the names of facilities that have been charged with abuse and neglect, making it easier to rule out these facilities altogether.
However, one of the most important things you can do for your loved one is learn to recognize the signs of abuse and neglect in a nursing home. One of the biggest red flags of abuse is pressure sores and bed sores, which is a telltale sign the nursing home staff is not diligent about repositioning patients frequently to avoid these injuries. Frequent falls—with or without broken bones—is another sign of neglect, as is significant weight loss. Every nursing home should have a registered nutritionist on staff to make sure patients are well-nourished and not losing too much weight.
If you have done these things and still suspect your loved one is suffering from abuse and neglect in a nursing home, call the attorneys at Tittle & Perlmuter. Our attorneys care about seeking justice for victims of nursing home abuse—whether that abuse is physical, emotional, or sexual. Nursing facilities are home to some of our most vulnerable citizens, and any facility that fails to protect them should be held accountable for their negligence. Tittle & Perlmuter can help you find justice for your loved one.