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Reporting Nursing Home Abuse

Watching for the signs and reporting known or suspected nursing home abuse are the best ways to protect your loved one.

Reporting Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

Nursing home abuse statistics suggest that a shocking five million elders are abused every year. It’s an unfortunate reality that you must stay vigilant to staff abuse in nursing homes. Keeping a watchful eye for any signs of abuse and neglect and then reporting what you see (even if it’s just suspected) are the best ways to protect your loved one. 

If you suspect abuse but fail to report, as the abuse continues and goes undetected, the abuser may become more confident. The abuse can get worse and in some cases can even become fatal. While it’s helpful to have concrete evidence, there are no specific nursing home abuse reporting requirements. If you suspect abuse, report it. From there, the authorities will work diligently to determine if abuse is truly happening. Here is how to report nursing home abuse:

Call 911

This should be your immediate first step if you suspect your loved one is in immediate danger. Emergency responders can remove them from the dangerous situation, and this can be a springboard to begin an investigation into the abuse.

Contact Adult Protective Services (APS)

If the abuse is not immediately life threatening, you can contact your state’s Adult Protective Services (APS). Because nursing home abuse reporting may vary from state to state, be sure to report through the state in which the abuse is occurring. Your state’s APS can provide information on what abuse looks like and how to protect elders. They can also directly take your local nursing home abuse report.

report nursing home abue

Contact an Ombudsman

Every state has a Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP). Ombudsmen advocate for people in long term care facilities. They can provide information, listen to concerns, and help protect your loved one’s rights. Importantly, ombudsmen keep information private and confidential; you must give them permission if you want them to help you with reporting abuse

Talk to a Healthcare Provider

If you suspect abuse, have your loved one seen by a healthcare provider who is not associated with the nursing home. He or she will be able to examine your loved one to make an informed decision about whether injuries or symptoms are from abuse. A healthcare provider can also make an assessment about your loved one’s mental state. Some signs of abuse can also be normal parts of aging, so a health care provider who can differentiate between the two is a great ally to have. Health care providers are mandatory reporters of elder abuse, so if their exam leaves them with suspicions of abuse, they should report it.

Call a Nursing Home Abuse Hotline

To get help, you can call the toll-free Eldercare Locator hotline at 1-800-677-1116. Representatives will be able to direct you to the correct reporting agency.

How to Report Nursing Home Abuse (for staff)

A nursing home worker who suspects or sees abuse can also report the abuse. Although you may be asked for your name and contact information when filing the report, your report will be kept anonymous. This means the person being abused, the abuser, and all of your coworkers will not know you filed the report.

Reporting Nursing Home Abuse

Whether you are a staff member or a loved one, as soon as you suspect abuse is happening, keep a record of the signs. If possible, take pictures of physical evidence such as bruises or broken belongings. For other signs, keep a detailed log, which might discuss your loved one’s change in mood, memory, or typical behaviors. Be sure to include dates and times on every entry. 

Keeping track of any signs of nursing home abuse can make it easier to prove your loved one is being abused. If investigators find abuse is occurring, this means the abuser will be removed from the situation, and may be given criminal charges.

Irrespective of the avenue you take to report elder abuse in nursing homes, the important thing is that you report it. Examples of nursing home abuse can include neglect, emotional abuse, and financial abuse; just because you don’t see a bruise or a broken bone doesn’t mean abuse is not happening. 

After you’ve made sure your loved one is safe, a nursing home abuse lawyer can help you navigate the next steps in the event you want to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit.

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