I have a friend in a nursing home who I think is being treated badly, but her family does not seem to care. Do I have standing to act on her behalf?
Anyone who suspects another person is being harmed through abuse or neglect has a right and duty to act. As attorneys pursuing a complaint involving nursing home abuse, we at Hardison & Cochran would officially be acting in the abuse victim’s name, but most investigations begin with someone else.
It is usually someone besides the victim who first reports nursing home abuse. Many nursing home residents are elderly and infirm, and cannot speak up for themselves. Others may be afraid of the consequences if they were to accuse a staff member or another resident of hurting them. They need someone to stand up for them.
If you think a nursing home resident is in immediate danger, you should contact police or emergency medical assistance through 911 services.
If there is no immediate danger, but answers from the nursing home staff or management do not satisfy your concerns, there are governmental services designed to protect the elderly from abuse and neglect.
You may contact the long-term care ombudsman program of the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services. This office may refer the case to the local county Department of Social Services Adult Protective Services Unit. Adult Protective Services is required to initiate an investigation within 72 hours and complete a thorough evaluation within 30 daysof abuse allegations or within 45 daysof anallegation of neglect.
The Adult Care Licensure Section of the North Carolina Division of Health Service Regulation also has an investigation division that follows up on complaints about nursing homes.
If you contact our office, we can get back in touch with you within 24 hours and can advise you of where to turn for the fastest and most effective help. If your friend has a potential legal claim, we can take steps to initiate it as well.