Your father dutifully served in the military. A proud veteran who lived stateside and in Europe, he was among the role models in your life. During those years, he faced and dealt with many enemies. However, now, as a man who no longer can care for himself, he faces a new and unexpected enemy; one from within the nursing home facility in which he now resides.
The indignity and humiliation that come with mental and physical abuse only add to the torment experienced by some nursing home residents. Your father and his fellow nursing home residents need protective allies. Just look at the results of this government report disclosing that 28% of likely physical and sexual abuse incidents involving nursing home patients were not reported to police.
Audit: 28% abuse cases unreported
An estimated 1.4 million people live in U.S. nursing homes. Any one of these residents is a potential victim of nursing home abuse.
During a 33-state audit of incidents that occurred from 2015 to 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services discovered 134 cases of possible neglect, sexual abuse or physical abuse. Texas had the third-most incidents with nine, ranked behind Illinois (17) and Michigan (13). Investigators determined that in 38 of the cases, no records existed confirming that the incident was reported to law enforcement.
Also, roughly 80% of the unreported cases involved sexual abuse or rape. Federal law requires nursing homes to promptly report these criminal incidents.
If you suspect your parent is being abused in a nursing home facility, take these steps:
- Talk with your parent. If he remains lucid he may share with you the details of the abuse he or she has experienced. However, your parent may decline to talk with you, fearful of the potential ramifications. Make careful observations, document everything and take photos.
- Consider installing a “granny cam” in your parent’s nursing home room. This device can serve as a deterrent for future incidents or even record them if they take place. You also may want to alert the nursing home of your plans to do this.
- Let the facility’s administrators know about your suspicions and that you are keeping a careful eye of your parent’s situation. Stridently advocate for administrators to make changes.
- Report the incident to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
- Take your parent out of the facility and make other living arrangements for him or her.
Your parent deserves the best care possible in a nursing home. While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges to these facilities, they also must ensure that their staffs safely provide for residents.