Having a loved one in a nursing home is an extremely difficult and often heart-wrenching situation. You hope, and should expect, that your loved one will receive exceptional care and treatment and this is often the case. However, family and friends do encounter situations in which they feel the patient is being neglected, mistreated or even abused. The question becomes, should I report it? The answer is: YES.
If you are concerned with the treatment someone is receiving at a nursing home, follow your gut instinct. Often, families and friends are the first to notice signs of neglect and abuse. This may be especially true if your loved one is unable to communicate the situation to you. Often, abuse goes unreported because families are unable to substantiate their fears because their loved one is suffering from a cognitive decline such as Dementia/Alzheimer’s. If you fear abuse and/or neglect, you should take action regardless of your loved one’s ability to confirm your fears.
If you fear abuse, your first priority is to secure safe and proper treatment for the resident of the nursing home. You can start by reporting your fears to the administration of the nursing home. However, if you feel that the situation warrants it being reported to state and local authorities, you can file a report with the appropriate regulatory agency. The applicable agencies can be found online at http://www.ltcombudsman.org/ombudsman which is provided by the National Long- Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center or you can contact the Department of Public Health for your particular state. These agencies can conduct an investigation and may be able reprimand the facility if they determine that a wrong has occurred.
Often families are concerned that if they report abuse their loved one will receive retribution from the employees or staff of the nursing home. However, failure to report instances of neglect and mistreatment will not beget better treatment. Failure to report abuse can result in further abuse not just of your loved one but of other patients within the nursing home. Once these misdeeds are brought to light, the facility will hopefully be more vigilant in overseeing the care and treatment of all residents. However, if you are concerned that your loved one will be treated improperly following your report of possible abuse, you may decide to move the resident to a different long-term facility.
Whatever you do, do not simply dismiss your concerns. If you feel that the treatment your loved one is receiving is unacceptable, investigate it further and report it if you feel it is warranted.