Reporting Nursing Home Abuse
In many cases, nursing home abuse is stopped only because someone steps in and reports their concerns to authorities. Often it is a family member or another loved one who regularly visits the nursing home and recognizes the warning signs of nursing home abuse.
North Carolina has multiple agencies you can turn to with a complaint about a nursing home, including allegations of abuse or neglect. In each county, the Adult Protective Services office within the Department of Social Services receives complaints about nursing home abuse. At the state level, the Adult Care Licensure Section of the Division of Health Service Regulation assists local DSS offices and individual complainants in investigations of nursing homes.
If you suspect a loved one of yours is being abused or neglected in a North Carolina nursing home, the Hardison & Cochran law firm can help, too. We can assist and advise you about reporting problems to authorities, and work with you to initiate a legal claim against the home, if our investigation shows that such a claim is appropriate.
Contact us now to have a lawyer from our firm review at no charge a case of nursing home abuse in North Carolina.
Document and Report Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
If you believe you recognize conditions that amount to abuse or neglect of a nursing home resident, you should immediately notify the head of the nursing home or whoever is in charge. If you believe there is a serious medical problem, request that a doctor be consulted immediately. Ask the nursing home to investigate and to call you with the results.
Follow up by making your complaint to the nursing home in writing, and keep a copy of this letter. At this point you should also contact your local county Department of Social Services and ask for the Adult Protective Services office.
APS has the authority to:
- Report evidence of mistreatment to the District Attorney and various regulatory agencies if appropriate.
- Initiate court action as necessary to protect the nursing home resident.
- Mobilize essential services on behalf of a disabled adult.
You may also report your complaint to the North Carolina Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. This office investigates and attempts to resolve the concerns or complaints of nursing home residents and families. This is a non-adversarial investigation, which means the office works with the nursing home to come to a solution.
The Ombudsman works with complaints about:
- Medical and personal services, such as problems with medication, nutrition and hygiene.
- Financial concerns, such as handling of residents’ funds, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
- Residents’ rights, such as the right to be treated with courtesy and to have individual requests
and preferences respected.
- Administrative decisions such as admission to or discharge from a nursing home.
Complaints to the Ombudsman about life-threatening conditions as well as abuse, neglect and misappropriation of finances are also referred to Adult Protective Services within each county DSS.
Watch for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
You can help stop or head off neglect or abuse of a nursing home resident. Make frequent visits to the home on days or at times that are different from when you usually visit. Spend enough time to get to know the place and its routines. Start a journal of your visits to the home, what you observe, what you are told, and any problems that you are seeing.
Record any specific incidents or conditions that you think are a problem. Take photos, especially if your loved one has been injured or has damaged clothes or possessions. Share your concerns with other family members or friends who visit the nursing home, and ask them about their observations.
Keep a written record of any verbal complaints, questions or concerns you have relayed to nursing home staff. Make sure you write down dates, times and the names and titles of those you have spoken to, as well as how they responded.
You can also contact an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney. Sometimes simply hearing from an attorney who is calling or writing on behalf of a resident will cause a nursing home to change its ways.
An attorney can investigate the problems you have seen and determine whether there is potential for your loved one to recover money for medical expenses and other losses resulting from the abuse they have suffered. In most cases, a lawyer can provide answers and take action faster than a state agency.
Contact Our Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys for Help Today
The nursing home abuse attorneys of Hardison & Cochran can help if you work through the confusion of what to do if you suspect a North Carolina nursing home resident is being abused or neglected. We can advise you about immediate action and meet with you to discuss specific concerns. If harm has been done, we can investigate and explore a potential legal claim on behalf of your loved one.
We take nursing home abuse and neglect seriously, as anyone should, and will listen to you with understanding, knowledge and respect. Our initial consultation is free, and we will not accept a legal fee unless we obtain compensation for you or your loved one. Please contact us today.