Help Stop Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Sunday May 6

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Friends and families are encouraged to visit nursing homes on May 6 to evaluate the level of care provided in assisted living communities. Research indicates that nursing home abuse and neglect continues to prevail in America's nursing homes. Visits from outsiders can help reduce incidents of abuse, especially when visitors take an active role in evaluating the care provided and asking questions.

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Despite big money damages from lawsuits, the nursing home industry does not appear willing to change.

Family, friends and civic leaders are encouraged to visit nursing home residents on the first Sunday of May. Planning a nursing home visit inspires happiness for elderly residents and also provides an opportunity to evaluate the level of care provided in nursing homes.

Although one hopes that nursing homes operate at the highest level of safety and comfort, research consistently indicates that this is not true. One recent government report, Quality of Care in Nursing Homes, found an alarming increase in health and safety failures in the nation's nursing homes.

The statistics don't surprise Davis Morse. "Nursing home abuse is just not going away. I hear so many sad stories," said Morse, a lawyer for the Consumer Justice Group, a firm that provides resources for victims of nursing home abuse or neglect. "Despite big money damages from lawsuits, the nursing home industry does not appear willing to change."

One problem causing elderly abuse is the lack of background checks for nursing home employees. More than half of the states require some kind of background check on a small number of nursing home workers, but none require a national background check. In December 2005, a report from the Government Accountability Office criticized "significant weaknesses in federal and state activities designed to detect and correct quality and safety problems at nursing homes."

Maintaining regular contact with family and friends in nursing homes and evaluating the facility and care providers can help you feel confident that loved ones are being served with dignity and proper attention. The Nursing Home Evaluation Toolkit can help diagnose the quality of care provided in nursing homes. The kit is available free to download from the Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect News.

When you visit a care facility, take the Nursing Home Evaluation Toolkit with you and look for these warning signs of neglect when you visit: bruises, bedsores, visible weight loss, falls, use of restraints and staff inattention toward residents. Other things to observe when visiting: How does your loved one look? Is he or she clean, dressed, well-groomed, alert and content? Is the food healthy and appropriate for dietary needs? Are there activities for residents? Is staff friendly? Do they know residents by name? Is the facility clean and well lit? What safety and security precautions protect residents?

On May 6, take the opportunity to check on the happiness and safety of elderly relatives and friends. Do what you can to ensure they aren't suffering while in a nursing home. If you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect call 877-ABUSE-AD for help.

Contact Thomas Farringer, Communications Director for the Consumer Justice Group, for additional information, resources and quotes about nursing home abuse or visit ConsumerJusticeGroup.com.

The Consumer Justice Group provides critical information and legal services to the public. Its goal is to make corporations accountable when they defraud, injure, neglect and abuse consumers. The Group advocates for people by putting together teams of legal and medical experts from around the country.

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Thomas Farringer
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