Nursing home attorneys work with nursing homes to ensure they comply with the law and protect their interests. They may be employed by a nursing home or by an individual, family, or group of people who operate a nursing home. These professionals must be licensed to massage an attorney in the jurisdiction where they practice; most jurisdictions require a minimum of two years of experience for initial licensure as well.
Nursing home attorneys participate in all operations, including admissions, marketing, patient care, and discharge planning. Their work is similar to that of an ombudsman or advocate, with the difference being that they represent the interests of a specific entity rather than an individual. That usually means they are responsible for representing the owner or operator of a nursing home, who typically lives outside the community where the home is located and may not have any other assets there.
What is a Nursing Home?
A nursing home is a facility that provides a residence-like environment within which residents receive care, often in a less-than-ideal setting. The residents of the nursing home are usually frail and require substantial care and attention from trained staff members. They may need assistance in bathing, dressing, or eating; they may have cognitive or physical impairments that affect their ability to function independently; and they may need help with activities of every kind, including personal hygiene, dressing, eating, and grooming. Medical care may be provided by a staff physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or certified nurse-midwife. Nursing home residents have varying degrees of dependence on the nursing staff, the facility itself, and other people, and they require constant supervision and assistance.
The Regulation of Nursing Homes: Federal, State, and Tribal
Nursing homes are regulated at all levels of government in the United States. The federal government sets the national policy; states are responsible for adopting standards and implementing them in the communities they govern, while tribal governments have authority over matters that affect only their reservations. Although there is substantial overlap among the three levels of government, adherence to state and federal standards has a major impact on the daily operations of nursing homes. All levels of government regulate the conduct of nursing homes, ensuring they are compliant with all state and federal requirements.
State governments have the power to set standards of care, but they may not be more restrictive than federal law. Sometimes states adopt additional rules and regulations in addition to those required by the federal government. States are also charged with enforcing standards of nursing home care and imposition of penalties for violations of state or federal standards. Nursing homes may be subject to review at any time by state agencies or peer review organizations; inspectors from other agencies may also conduct unannounced inspections if there is a suspicion that nursing home practices are not in compliance with existing rules and regulations.
Nursing Home Residents Bill of Rights:
Nursing homes are governed by a detailed set of state laws and regulations. But special rules apply to nursing homes for the aged. This is particularly true for nursing homes that serve the elderly and disabled. Because of their unique circumstances, these facilities must meet certain additional requirements under state law. Residents generally have the same rights as other people, except where state or federal law provides for some special rights in specific cases or for specific groups of people such as children, teenagers, and people with disabilities.
Although the need for nursing home care is never easy or convenient, it’s one of life’s most difficult realities. The last thing that anyone wants to think about is getting older and becoming dependent on others, especially if there is no family support to fall back on.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse:
If you suspect that someone has been abused in a nursing home, there are certain signs to look for. The most obvious sign is that the resident has injuries or bruises. Another sign of nursing home abuse is that a resident displays unusual behavior. These behaviors may include extreme depression, anxiety, or anger; sudden mood changes; or physical symptoms such as poor appetite, constant wetting and bedwetting, and rashes that do not go away quickly enough once they appear. The third sign of nursing home abuse is a resident’s need for 24-hour care. If your loved one has been incapacitated by an injury or illness, these signs are more common than usual and make it much harder to hide the abuse.
More subtle signs of nursing home abuse include general unhappiness or irritability even when there are no injuries or bruises. Other signs include hoarding, excessive dependence on staff members, physical weakness and fatigue, unusual behavior, and an inability to recall events as well as any particular occurrences in their lives. Your loved one may start speaking incoherently or shouting out of the blue. He might be acting very differently than usual; he could begin to forget things that happened just a few minutes ago.
What Can I Do to Stop the Abuse?
If you suspect that a nursing home resident has been abused, the first thing you should do is call your local police department. If the alleged abuse occurred in a nursing home, the police will try to get as much information as they can about what happened. This can alert staff members and other residents to the problem and make it easier for them to intervene. A medical evaluation can also be set up for the victim; this will ensure that injuries are treated quickly, and it could help determine if the victim needs to move to another nursing home.
The police will also work with your loved one and other concerned parties to keep an eye on the situation. They can help give your loved one back a sense of independence while making the safest environment possible for him. When you file a criminal report against a nursing home, you are unlikely to get much satisfaction from it alone. However, you can subsequently file a civil lawsuit against the nursing home and its staff members.
What are My Legal Options if My Loved One was Abused?
If your loved one was abused while staying in a nursing home, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help assess your legal options and work hard to see that your loved one gets everything he needs. Nursing care facilities are meant to protect vulnerable adults. When they fail to do so, it can have serious consequences for them and their families.
When you make a report about the abuse of a resident, you should always provide as much detail about what happened as you can. You should also keep in mind that your loved one has the right to tell his side of the story. He might not remember what actually happened, but he or she may be able to explain the situation without revealing any details that shouldn’t be said.
The law requires that nursing homes provide a high standard of care. But in cases where the nursing home has not lived up to these standards, it is important to seek legal counsel if you are considering filing a claim or if you have already filed one. A nursing home attorney can help you navigate the legal issues surrounding abuse and neglect in these facilities, including informing you of your rights to compensation and providing representation in any civil claims arising from such abuses.