Deciding to place your mother, father, grandparent, or other loved one in a nursing home or senior living center is never easy. You worry about their health and the quality of care they will receive. And, of course, you want them to be happy. Sadly, some nursing homes and senior living centers underpay and undertrain staff, or do a poor job screening and hiring. They, in turn, may abuse or neglect your relative.

At Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, we know your loved one’s safety and well-being are paramount. If you suspect your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect at a nursing home or senior care facility, we can investigate and then help your family and loved one obtain compensation for medical bills, relocation to a better facility, and recover other legal damages. Contact us today at 1 (800) 444-5000 or fill out our quick and easy online form.

How common is nursing home abuse and neglect … and why?

Nursing home abuse or neglect typically arises from lack of supervision, untrained staff, and understaffing at nursing homes; it has been the industry’s dirty little secret for years. Congressional investigators have found that at least one in five nursing homes failed to report abuse and fully one-third of the country’s nursing homes have been cited for physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect. Here in Texas, just about any respected study you wish to read places our state’s nursing home/assisted living center quality at or near the bottom of these national lists.

What is neglect in a nursing home or assisted living center?

The legal definition in this instance means that doctors, nurses, aides, therapists, or any other person who is charged with caring for residents within the facility fails to treat them with a reasonable and prudent standard of care – one which is expected in any Texas nursing home or assisted living facility. This failure causes the resident to be injured.

What is the difference between neglect and abuse?

Abuse is the commission of physical or emotional mistreatment of your relative by staff members. Insults, unusual physical restraints, and assaults are all forms of abuse. Neglect, on the other hand, involves the denial of resources they need to live, such as withholding food or  medication, or denying you the ability to directly communicate with them. Texas allows victims of negligence or abuse to seek compensation from the owners of the facility.

How can I tell if my relative is suffering physical abuse at a nursing home?

Suspicious signs include any or all of the following: bruises, black eyes, welts, ligature (restraint) marks, lacerations, broken bones, sprains, dislocations, untreated wounds, and sudden behavior changes.

What about clues of neglect?

Look for bedsores or ulcers indicating failure to turn or reposition the resident; falls due to inadequate safety precautions or assistance; evidence of failure to take your relative to the toilet and/or a lack of attention to their personal hygiene; and dehydration from a failure to provide adequate fluids.

What signs should I look for that might show that my relative has been the victim of sexual abuse at a retirement center?

This is hard to detect because victims of sexual abuse go to great lengths to avoid admitting they are victims. Look for bruises in the genitalia and breast area, vaginal or anal bleeding, and stained or bloody undergarments. If their abuser happens to come into the room and your relative fearfully reacts to their presence, this might also be a clue to some sort of sexual (or physical) abuse.

If my relative dies from nursing home abuse or neglect, can a claim still be pursued?

Yes. Texas’ wrongful death statute provides for the pursuit of such claims by surviving spouses, parents, and children of the deceased. In Texas, the estate may bring a survival action.

What types of compensation are available for nursing home abuse or neglect?

Depending on the circumstances, it is possible to receive compensation for lost income, medical bills, future medical care, physical and mental pain and anguish, disfigurement, and impairment. Punitive damage awards may also be possible.

What should I do if I think a family member or loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home?

To file a complaint in Texas you would contact the State Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) at 1 (800) 458-9858. You can also quietly gather evidence such as pictures of any injures and a list of witnesses. Then contact a seasoned nursing home attorney, such as one with Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, so we can review the medical records, advise you whether you have a potential case against the facility, and help you file your complaint with DADS.

What should I look for when choosing a nursing home?

Start with a look at the staff-to-patient ratio – assuming this information is genuine – which should be an indicator that your loved one will get personalized attention and care. If there are too few staff members caring for patients, the risk of your loved one’s suffering abuse or neglect could be high. You should also carefully observe resident living conditions, the overall appearance and cleanliness of the facility, and the general behavior of the residents.

How can I determine whether my loved one is being abused or neglected?

This general guide by U.S. News and World Report is a neutral resource to help you know the signs that something may be wrong at your relative’s nursing home, senior living facility, or extended care center.

We are here to answer your questions and, if you need legal representation, handle your nursing home abuse claim. You have enough to deal with after learning your relative was neglected or abused. Let us take care of the legal work so you can focus on caring for your family member.