When you have a loved one in a nursing home facility, it's important that you trust the care that they receive. Residents in nursing homes are more vulnerable to abuse, simply because of a diminished capacity to take care of their own needs. If you have concerns regarding how a loved one is treated in a nursing home, you can ask to speak with the nursing home ombudsman. This individual is a volunteer that completes a federally recognized training to assist those that live in a nursing home voice their concerns to the facility as a whole. The ombudsman will meet with residents, tour the facility on a regular basis, and meet with staff to discuss any issues that they find.
If You Believe Your Loved One is Being Neglected
Abuse doesn't have to be an outward injury that is easy to see. Many times abuse in a nursing home comes in the form of neglect. You may discover that your loved one has a room that is always dirty, or that the facility often has a foul smell. You may further find that your loved one wasn't being watched carefully, and they fell because of a lack of supervision. Neglect is common in nursing homes, as there are usually too many residents and not enough staff to take care of them safely. If you have concerns, you can ask to speak to the ombudsman on behalf of your loved one.
Meeting with the Ombudsman
It's important to understand that the ombudsman doesn't work for the nursing home. As a volunteer, it is their job to advocate for the residents within the facility and ensure their safety. When you meet with the ombudsman, you can ask that you not be identified to the facility. Speak freely about your concerns regarding your loved one, as the ombudsman can intervene with the facility about the problems that you see.
If the Neglect Continues
If the neglect continues even after you meet with the ombudsman, it's time to start considering what else you can do for your loved one. If they sustain an injury because of neglect, such as recurrent bed sores from not being positioned properly, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit on their behalf. It is useful to talk with an elder abuse lawyer about your concerns and to find out what you can do when you believe a loved one is being neglected by the facility entrusted with their care.