Every North Carolina nursing home has a legal obligation to provide quality care and a safe environment for its patients. If you suspect a family member has been abused or neglected, you are entitled to answers and your loved one deserves justice. Your suspicions of nursing home abuse do not have to be concrete before you take action, as the signs of abuse are often subtle and develop over time. Listed below are several key indicators that you should be aware of as you evaluate whether your loved one has been a victim of neglect or abuse.
The First Questions to Ask When Identifying Nursing Home Abuse
- Does your loved one have injuries or show physical signs of neglect?
- Are your loved one’s complaints insistent and frequent?
- Are objections directed at a particular nursing home staff member?
- Has your loved one displayed unusual behavior changes?
- Does the nursing home staff allow you to be alone with your loved one?
Warning Signs of Abuse
- Bedsores or pressure ulcers
- Broken bones caused by falls or other unexplained events
- Medication overdoses or administering errors
- Serious medical conditions that go untreated because staff fails to arrange for adequate doctor supervision
Once you have determined that your loved one has been a victim, it is important that you take immediate action by contacting the North Carolina Department on Aging at 866-654-3219. Be prepared to give the nursing home resident’s name, address, and details about the suspected abuse. You may be asked for your contact information, or in other instances be allowed to file a confidential report. All complaints are reviewed by investigators and may require interviews and a review of your family member’s medical history and facility records.
An additional resource often overlooked in advocating on behalf of seniors is the ombudsman appointed to your region. Ombudsmen can be instrumental in investigating your claim and communicating as an advocate for your family with the facility. You may find the one closest to you through the website or phone number below:
State Long Term Care Ombudsman
Sharon Wilder, State Long Term Care Ombudsman
NC Division of Aging and Adult Services
2101 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-2101
Work: (919) 733-8395
Fax: (919) 715-0868
Should you need urgent assistance, North Carolina law enforcement officers and Adult Protective Services are also trained on how to investigate and handle nursing home abuse cases. Whatever you suspect may only be a fraction of what is actually occurring.