Your New Jersey Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers

We put our trust in assisted living facilities to take good care of our loved ones.

These facilities have an enormous responsibility: to care for and nurture the elderly. Unfortunately, however, there are some nursing homes where patients are not just disrespected, but downright abused.

Nursing home abuse can include physical injury, like being slapped or kicked. But it can also take forms that are harder to recognize, like psychological abuse, neglect, or even sexual abuse.

Possible signs of elder abuse include things like unexplained, recurring injuries, signs of emotional trauma or changes to medication without a physician’s approval.

If your loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect you should contact a New Jersey nursing home neglect lawyer immediately.

Signs of Nursing Home Neglect

If you suspect your loved one might be the victim of nursing home neglect, there are a number of key signs to look for when you visit or speak with them.

  • Bruises, cuts or other signs of injury
  • Drastic change in emotional state
  • Lack of apparent medical care
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Trouble locating or contacting staff members

Victims of neglect are at increased risk of injury, sickness, or even death. When you placed your loved one in a nursing home, you did so because you wanted them to experience high-quality care.

Emotional and Social Neglect in Nursing Homes

You put your loved one in a nursing home because you believed it would be the best way for them to maintain a high quality of life while receiving the healthcare treatment they need. Many nursing homes are great, safe places for elderly people. At their best, they help busy families manage a loved one’s care, while providing that person with dignity and respect.

Unfortunately, some nursing homes fail their patients. In some cases, negligence or outright mistreatment results in physical injuries or illness. In other cases, the patient may experience emotional and social neglect.

What Are Emotional and Social Neglect?

Although mental and emotional health issues are harder to see than physical ones, they are no less significant. Elderly people who receive regular social stimulation and emotional support experience a much higher quality of life than those who do not.

There are significant health benefits for people who continue to socialize in their later years. For example, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, participation in social and leisure activities is associated with a decreased risk of dementia.

When nursing homes fail to provide their patients with this sort of social engagement, they can worsen that patient’s health and overall quality of life. Just because your loved one is in a nursing home doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a full, rich life.

Signs of Emotional and Social Neglect

If you suspect your loved one’s emotional and social needs are being neglected, you might want to look for the following signs:

  • Marked changes in mood
  • High staff turnover
  • Dramatic changes in overall physical health
  • Your loved one seems depressed or anxious
  • Significant change in weight
  • Significant change in sleep patterns
  • Your loved one does not describe having friends
  • Your loved one does not describe positive experiences with nursing home staff

If these or other worrying signs are present, you should contact a lawyer, who can advise you about your options. Your loved one should not have to suffer in silence, and you both may be eligible for significant financial compensation.

Nursing Home Abuse: A Growing Problem

Nursing home neglect has become a heated debate, with a complexity of issues and a visible lack of regulations to establish accountability.

According to the AARP, there are about 44,000 nursing home residents in New Jersey. In 2016, there were approximately 6,600 unreported cases of nursing home neglect or abuse as required by law.

These cases pertained to patients that were directly transported from a nursing facility to an emergency room. Investigators believe that many of these cases are not reported since the abused are often afraid to come forth, and in some cases, the neglect can be masked by medical conditions.

A major contributing factor of this neglect is the understaffing and overworking of nursing home staff. On a regular day, a nurse takes care of 15 to 16 elderly patients, but on a day with multiple people calling out sick or covering various floors, they tend to 20 to 25 residents alone.

Families for Better Care reported that New Jersey ranked 45th nationwide in the amount of direct care service hours per resident; with an average 2.27 hours. However, the state minimum in New Jersey is 2.5 hours. With discrepancies in time allotted to patients and their individual needs, conditions such as ulcers (bed sores) or infections may worsen, and issues with medications or the lack thereof may arise. Cases like that of Robert Gunkel, a once healthy Korean War veteran that died in the span of three months from complications arising from bed sores leading to sepsis, are part of the statistic where one out of every ten elderly will experience some form of neglect.

New Jersey is the seventh most expensive state for nursing home care. According to recent data from the 2018 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, a semi-private room is $10,646 per month compared to the national average of $7,441. With such a high cost of living, one would think the services provided would aim to be of utmost efficiency.

Yet the Health Care Association of New Jersey emphasized that the quality of care should not rest solely on the number of staff, but instead on the “competency of skills and heart of the staff.” If one were to hold this statement as fact, can any one person’s competency of skill tend to the individual requirements of 20 to 30 patients, each with individual needs and conditions, whilst allotting them the 2.5 hours of care required by law?

How Can a Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer Help?

If your loved one is displaying potential signs of elder abuse, it is important to act quickly to ensure that they receive the quality care they deserve as soon as possible.

If you suspect that your loved one is being or has been mistreated at their nursing home, do not let them suffer in silence. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the situation, have your loved one transported to safer conditions and possibly negotiate a financial settlement. You may be entitled to a financial settlement that can help cover the costs of previous care, medical expenses incurred by neglect, and the emotional damages of neglect.

Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

WORKS CITED:

  1.  “Nursing Home Abuse Statistics.” Elderly Care, Nursing Home Abuse Guide, www.nursinghomeabuseguide.org/nursing-home-abuse-statistics/.
  2. Sherman, Ted, and Susan K. Livio. “Who Takes Care of Mom and Dad in the Nursing Home? In N.J., the Answer Can Be Scary.” Nj.com, Nj.com, 20 July 2019, www.nj.com/news/2019/07/who-takes-care-of-mom-and-dad-in-the-nursing-home-in-nj-the-answer-is-sometimes-no-one.html.
  3. The Associated Press. “Widespread Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Facilities Frequently Go Unreported, Watchdog Says.” Nj.com, Nj.com, 12 June 2019, www.nj.com/news/2019/06/widespread-abuse-and-neglect-in-nursing-facilities-go-unreported-frequently-government-watchdog-says.html.

Discuss Your Case with Our Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys Today

All nursing home patients are entitled to dignity, care and respect. Our experienced team understands the importance of keeping your loved ones safe. We will listen to your concerns and help you figure out what course of action is best for you and your family. We may be able to help you obtain compensation for the mistreatment your loved one has suffered. Contact the attorneys of O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble today to discuss nursing home malpractice, elder abuse and potential negotiations. Contact us online or call at (908) 928-9200 or 1-800-586-5817