Winter Haven Nursing Home Abuse
At The Turnbull Firm, we understand how difficult it can be to place an elderly or disabled family member in a nursing home, retirement community, or long-term care center. The transition from living at home to assisted living can be emotionally-charged at the best of times, but we make this change in the hope that our loved ones will be better-off. We expect these facilities to provide our family member with the care they need, and that our loved ones will be free from harm. That is why nursing home abuse is such a grim and awful subject when it arises.
The Turnbull Firm has years of experience investigating nursing homes for signs of abuse and neglect, and in making sure that nursing homes are held responsible for perpetuating abuse against residents or allowing it to occur. If you have reason to suspect that your loved one is being abused in a nursing home, it is vital that you do not delay in taking action. Call a dedicated Winter Haven nursing home abuse attorney for advice and representation, and allow us to help you ensure the safety of your family.
Nursing Home Neglect vs. Abuse
Nursing home neglect and nursing home abuse are two separate but equally harmful problems. At The Turnbull Firm, we represent clients who have experienced either or both. Neglect refers more specifically to a lack of appropriate care provided to nursing home residents, a failure to provide for residents’ basic needs such as food, water, cleanliness, hygiene, clothing, physical activity, medical treatment or medication, and other physical and emotional needs. Failing to provide residents with these basic necessities violates the rights of patients and the duties owed residents by nursing homes.
Nursing home abuse refers to affirmative, harmful conduct perpetuated by nursing home staff or other individuals. Abuse is equally, if not more, despicable than neglect, and represents the intentional infliction of harm, often by the use of physical force. Abuse can involve physical conduct such hitting, biting, scratching, sexual abuse, or inappropriately restraining residents, or mental harm such as belittling, demeaning, harassing, or threatening residents. Abuse can take the form of deliberate neglect, such as denying residents food, water, clothing, or shelter as a form of punishment. Abuse can even be financial if staff steals or cons money from residents. Nursing homes or long-term care facilities whose staff intentionally cause residents physical harm or mental anguish, or deliberately permit visitors, residents, or other third parties to do so, must be held accountable for their abusive conduct.
Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Happens With Shocking Frequency
As horrible as it may seem, Florida nursing home staff mistreat residents much more than we would like to think. Nursing home abuse statistics gathered by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) demonstrate that abuse occurs at an alarming rate nationwide. According to the NCEA:
- Over 30 percent of adult women with disabilities residing in long-term care facilities and nursing homes have experienced some form of violence, and 40 percent of women without disabilities have experienced violence.
- When expanded to include any perpetrator, nearly 70 percent of disabled women have suffered physical abuse in their lifetime, and half experience sexual abuse.
- Disabled men also face elevated rates of abuse: Half of disabled men experience physical abuse in their lifetime, and at least ten percent experience physical abuse by a personal assistance or care provider
Nursing home abuse cases in Florida are rising at an alarming rate. According to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), the total number of verified cases of abuse and neglect statewide increased from 1,448 in 2011 to 2,525 in 2015, a 74 percent increase in only five years. In Polk County, 25 defendants were charged with elder abuse or neglect and 16 convicted.
Nursing home abuse is a serious, pervasive, and continuing problem both in Florida and nationwide. Reach out to a qualified, passionate, and aggressive Central Florida nursing home abuse lawyer for assistance if you have witnessed or suspect any form of nursing home abuse.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
The Winter Haven nursing home abuse lawyer at The Turnbull Firm has years of experience identifying the signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse and neglect. If your loved one is a resident at a nursing home in Central Florida and you suspect that they are the victim of abuse or neglect by staff, visitors, or other residents, it is vital that you act as soon as possible. If your elderly relative may be the subject of negligence or abuse, you need to determine the facts as soon as possible and get them out of the situation where necessary.
Nursing home neglect attorney Sanga Turnbull is ready to help you investigate any suspected abuse or neglect and will ensure that any long-term care facility, nursing home, or other parties responsible for harm to your loved ones are held accountable. Some of the signs of nursing home abuse are obvious, while others may be more subtle. Below, we provide a few of the more common signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. If you identify one or more of these symptoms, contact a Winter Haven nursing home neglect and abuse attorney for help to protect your family.
Confusion or disorientation
You know your loved one, you know their temperament, and you know their level of cognition. If they appear to be more confused, disoriented, drowsy or sleeping all the time, and you know that to be unusual, it may be a sign that they are over- or under-medicated. The staff may be ignoring the negative side effects of their current medication regime, failing to make appropriate adjustments.
Unexplained physical injuries
Everyone experiences a few bumps and bruises here and there, but when you visit your loved one, be on the lookout for unusual, extreme, or unexplained injuries. If you notice broken bones, cut lips, black eyes, or bruises on the arms, neck, legs, or wrists (signs of shackling), make sure to ask the resident and the staff what happened. Such injuries are unusual; perhaps one incident can be explained away, but regular injuries such as these are almost certainly signs of abuse. Moreover, even a single broken bone, if not explained to your satisfaction, may indicate abuse.
Malnourishment and dehydration
Nursing homes have a responsibility to keep residents well-fed and hydrated. If you find that your elderly relative appears malnourished, such as if they are emaciated, lack energy, experience sudden weight loss, have sunken eyes, or otherwise appear to have not been eating right, it may be a sign of abuse or neglect. Additionally, look for signs of dehydration: cracked lips, dry skin, croaked voice, etc. Nursing home staff are trained to identify these kinds of conditions and respond accordingly. If the resident is left untreated, it may be because the staff is simply negligent and ignoring your loved one, or a malicious staff member may be denying them food and water as a form of punishment.
Unsanitary conditions and poor hygiene
Nursing homes are responsible for keeping residents clean and comfortable. They must keep the premises well-kept, such as by washing sheets, clothes, and towels, cleaning rooms and bathrooms, emptying trash cans, and otherwise keeping the residents out of filth. They are also responsible for ensuring that residents are bathed and clean, that they brush their teeth and are otherwise hygienic. Look out for unsanitary conditions such as mold, mildew, old garbage, old food, and ensure that your loved one does not appear dirty, unwashed, unkempt, with untrimmed nails or unbrushed teeth.
Bedsores and other untreated maladies
Nursing homes must keep residents mobile to avoid problems such as bedsores. Even immobile residents should be turned over or moved around on wheelchairs to keep them somewhat active. Likewise, incontinent residents must be cared for, toileting assisted, and disposable briefs changed regularly. Look out for bedsores, open wounds, smells of feces or urine, or frequent urinary tract infections, which can be a sign that a resident is being ignored or medical attention is being withheld.
Signs of emotional abuse
Not all abuse is physical. Overworked, overstressed, or otherwise angry or mean nursing home staff may lash out at residents. They may belittle, demean, intimidate, or humiliate residents. Signs of emotional abuse include the following: unusual fear or aggression towards staff or people generally; rapid mood switches; fear or anxiety, especially about speaking around staff; feelings of depression, anxiety, or isolation; appearing withdrawn; or any other significant change you notice about their demeanor or disposition.
Fighting Back Against Nursing Home Abuse in Central Florida
The Winter Haven nursing home abuse attorney at The Turnbull Firm does not tolerate abuse in Florida nursing homes. If you have any reason to believe that your loved one is being abused in a nursing home, call us to immediately begin an investigation and get your family member to a safe space. We will fight tooth and nail to ensure that your family is protected and that the nursing home, long-term care facility, and any other parties responsible for hurting your family are forced to compensate you for the damage they have caused. Nursing home residents have the right to be safe and free from harm, and families have the right to be secure in the safety of their elderly or disabled kin. We work with clients to make sure that these rights are satisfied. Contact the Winter Haven nursing home abuse lawyer at The Turnbull Firm today at 863-324-3500 for a free consultation.