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We know that a lack of visitors increases the chance of a nursing home resident's suffering abuse, which is why an illness-related facility shutdown can lead to abusive conditions.
TOWSON, MD, March 30, 2022 /24-7PressRelease/ -- During times of widespread illnesses like COVID or influenza, residents of nursing homes often are among the most vulnerable to serious health consequences from contracting these diseases. For this reason, nursing homes may severely or completely limit visitors from entering the building in an effort to reduce the chance of spreading disease to the residents.
Unfortunately, this act of protecting residents from the threat of illness could open them up to threats from other harmful occurrences, such as abuse.
Family members may have concerns that their inability to see their loved ones in person at the nursing home leave them unable to spot signs of abuse. This is a challenging situation.
"We understand the frustration family members experience when they are unable to see their loved ones at the nursing home," attorney Roger S. Weinberg said. "We believe it is vital for family members to educate themselves about clues regarding potential nursing home abuse, even when the family members cannot visit in person."
Some of the signs of potential nursing home abuse you can watch for when you have a limited ability to visit and talk face to face include:
• Your loved one's speaking on a video call from a darkened room, as if something's being hidden
• Clear lack of personal hygiene that's visible on a video call
• Torn or soiled clothing that are visible on a video call
• Appearance of bruises or abrasions on the face and neck that your loved one can't or won't explain
• Unusual uneasiness or nervousness from your loved one on the call
• Seeing piles of soiled clothing or bedding in the background of the video call
• Seeing piles of dirty dishes in the background of the video call
• Evasive answers on the call from your loved one about his or her daily activities
• Embarrassment or an unwillingness to discuss the nursing home staff or other residents
• Missing hearing aids, dentures, or eyeglasses that you notice on the video call.
It also can be helpful to speak to other families who have residents at the nursing home. Discuss whether they are noticing any signs of potential abuse involving their loved ones. Sharing information can help you come to a more accurate conclusion.
If you know a staff member at the nursing home, try to speak to him or her away from the nursing home setting. The vast majority of nursing home staff members want to protect the residents, but they may be uneasy about reporting potential signs of abuse because of consequences or threats from management or other staff members.
The National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys (NANHA) estimates that each year 5 million nursing home residents suffer some form of abuse, whether it's physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
According to NANHA, nursing home residents who have physical or mental disabilities are more susceptible to abuse, as the abuser knows a weaker resident cannot fight back.
Along those same lines, an abuser may target a nursing home resident who rarely receives visitors. The abuser knows that the lack of visitors means the bruises and other signs of the abuse may go unnoticed for a long time.
"We know that a lack of visitors increases the chance of a nursing home resident's suffering abuse, which is why an illness-related facility shutdown can lead to abusive conditions," Weinberg said.
Additionally, nursing home staff shortages become more prevalent during widespread illness like COVID or flu, as sick staff members must miss work. With fewer nurses and other staff members in the building, an abuser's actions have a greater chance to go unnoticed.
However, none of this should happen. Staff shortages and an inability to keep an eye on potential abusive situations are signs of negligence on the part of the nursing home. The nursing home says it will keep your loved one safe at all times. Even though the nursing home is facing difficult circumstances, it still must find a way to prevent abusive situations.
"During times of limited visitation at the nursing home, family members have to be more vigilant than ever," Weinberg said. "Our team can help families by discussing their concerns about potential abuse. We can perform an investigation that can help us learn what is truly happening to your loved one at the nursing home."
As a Maryland nursing home attorney, Roger Weinberg understands the signs of abuse. We are ready to work hard to give your loved one the protection he or she deserves. Weinberg provides representation to those injured in nursing homes and their loved ones.
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