Home Health & Wellness Nursing Home Abuse: Why Establishing Negligence Can Be Difficult

Nursing Home Abuse: Why Establishing Negligence Can Be Difficult

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Unfortunately, elder abuse in nursing homes is rampant in the US, which is why many seniors fear living in them. The reputation of most nursing homes is good, but stories of staff abusing patients and residents arise every day, and this behaviour can go on for a while before it is recognised and stopped. In some cases, the perpetrators continue this abuse for years.

If you are looking for a nursing home for yourself or for anyone in your family in the State of New York, it’s always best to do thorough research on the facilities in the area. Read reviews, visit the home, and talk to current residents. And in case the unthinkable happens, you can contact a nursing home negligence lawyer to guide you in exploring your legal options.  

What is negligence?

Negligence, also called neglect, is a common form of abuse in which residents are left alone without physical, emotional, and/or mental support for long periods. It may not involve direct violence or harsh words, but removing necessary care and attention marks neglect. This could include (but is not limited to) unexplained weight loss, malnutrition, bed sores, depression, a compromised immune system, withdrawn affect, and lack of medical attention. Negligence could lead to serious injury, illness, and even death.

Negligence or neglect falls under the umbrella of abuse. Ignoring nursing home residents can be just as harmful as directly hurting them, verbally and/or physically. However, there are many reasons why establishing negligence in a nursing home can be difficult. Let’s explore what makes nursing home abuse and negligence, in particular, challenging to prove.

The patient or resident

Those who reside in nursing homes may be there for various reasons, from simply needing help remembering to accomplish daily tasks to hospice (end-of-life care). This fact means that residents in nursing homes have varied autonomy and require varying levels of assistance, from almost none to complete dependence on caregivers.

Those who cannot speak up for themselves are most vulnerable to neglect. Often, dementia patients and those who are too ill or sick to speak or move on their own suffer abuse or negligence simply because they cannot tell anyone what is happening to them.

Because the most vulnerable residents of nursing homes lack the ability to speak up to their visiting loved ones, nursing home managers, or board members, negligence has an environment in which it can persist.

Nursing home staff

Nursing homes can be chronically understaffed, leading to overworked staff who cut corners on patient care and may leave the patient in soiled sheets for hours or even days. They may forget to bring them meals or withhold sufficient food or medicine. Not bathing a resident who cannot bathe themselves is also neglect.

Poor staff training and inadequate staff background checks are also major problems in nursing homes that lead to abuse and negligence. Staff members need proper training to take care of adults, especially those with medical conditions and special needs, and many do not receive much (if any) training before getting hired. They may only receive minimal on-the-job training.

Proving negligence in nursing homes

If you are not with your loved one in the nursing home 24 hours a day, how can you prove suspected negligence?

Because it can be difficult to prove negligence, it is best to enlist the help of a lawyer early on. They can help you gather evidence to show that damages were done to your loved one. Evidence can relate to the nursing home’s breach of contract for not looking after your loved one’s best interests, or you can go the route of medical malpractice or breach of duty of care responsibilities.

Final thoughts

Proving negligence in nursing homes is difficult, not impossible. With patience to collect evidence, questioning those in charge of staff, monitoring your loved one’s well-being, and the advice of a lawyer, you can prove that negligence impacted your loved one and stop the abuse.


Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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