Nursing home abuse is a dark reality that is difficult to face. We place a huge amount of trust in the institutions that provide care for our elderly loved ones. It can be devastating to consider that this trust gets continually broken behind the scenes.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found, there are over a million Americans living in nursing homes all over the United Sates. Unfortunately, due to the nature of their conditions, the residents in these institutions are particularly vulnerable to injustices that are rampant behind closed doors.
One of the ways the government helps the nursing home residents is through the implementation of the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, which you can read in full from the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. It sets certain rules and requirements that keep nursing homes accountable for the welfare of their residents. In particular, it also establishes that all these residents are entitled to the following basic rights:
- The right to freedom from mistreatment, neglect, and abuse
- The right to freedom from physical restraints
- The right to privacy
- The right to have medical, physical, psychological, and social needs appropriately accommodated
- The right to participate in social activity, such as resident and family groups
- The right to communicate freely
- The right to exercise self-determination
- The right to be treated with dignity
- The right to participate in one’s care plan, which includes being fully informed of any changes in treatment and other health care directives
- The right to voice grievances without discrimination or fear of being reprised
Despite such policies having been implemented in the last few decades, the cases of nursing home abuse continue to take place away from the public eye. Unfortunately, cases of intimidation, malnutrition, use of force, neglect, misuse of medication, and sexual abuse remain rampant. Data gathered by the National Center on Elder Abuse points out that nearly 1 out 10 have been cited for violations that lead to cases of harm and serious injury. This doesn’t include incidents that have remained unreported.
The policies and regulations imposed by the government can only do so much to prevent nursing home abuse. Significant change can only take place if the culture of silence and violence is eradicated. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities must be held accountable for physical, emotional, and psychological trauma caused to victimized residents. As emphasized by Tennessee personal injury attorneys, victims and their families can file legal claims and seek just compensation for injuries caused by such abuses.