Caregivers at nursing homes have a duty to provide care to residents, and to do so in a professional, responsible manner. Nursing home neglect, regardless of whether it is intentional, is a type of abuse for which the nursing home could be liable. Below, we detail the differences between passive and willful nursing home neglect and when a nursing home might be liable.
If nursing home staff have abused or neglected your loved one, you may have a claim. Call Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., L.P.A. today at 419-843-6663 to schedule your free consultation with a nursing home abuse lawyer.
What is passive nursing home neglect?
All persons working as caregivers at nursing homes have a responsibility to provide the necessary care for residents in all situations. We refer to the failure to do this as neglect.
The difference between passive and active neglect is the intent of the caregiver.
Passive neglect, also known as unintentional neglect, occurs when the caregiver did not intend to fail in their duties of caring for the nursing home resident in their care. The following are examples of ways a caregiver might perform passive neglect:
Passive Neglect Due to Inadequate Staffing or a Lack of Resources
If the nursing home’s inadequate staffing makes it impossible for the caregivers to devote an adequate amount of time and attention to the residents, the nursing home and its caregivers have performed passive neglect. While the nursing home likely did not intend to have too few staff members, the nursing home has a duty to give each resident the care s/he deserves, regardless of the amount of people on staff.
Nursing homes can also perform unintentional neglect if it does not have the necessary supplies and materials to properly care for the residents. This can include:
- The supplies needed to keep the nursing home clean and in good, safe condition;
- A sufficient quantity and quality of food and beverages for the residents;
- Appropriate hygiene and medical supplies for the residents.
Passive Neglect Due to a Lack of Proper Training
When a nursing home does not hire staff members with sufficient training and caregiving skills essential to performing their duties, and/or does not provide sufficient training for the staff members to be able to perform their duties appropriately, the residents can suffer.
Ignorance of the proper techniques for transferring a patient from a wheelchair to a bed, for example, can result in falls and injuries to the resident.
What is willful neglect at a nursing home?
Willful neglect, also called active or intentional neglect, occurs when the caregiver has the resources to properly perform their duties, but intentionally withholds the resources from the nursing home resident. Common motivations for willful neglect are financial gain or interpersonal conflicts of staff with residents.
Financial Gain as a Motivation for Willful Neglect
If the nursing home has the resources to properly care for the residents, but fails to do so in order to increase its own profits, it has committed willful neglect.
Skimpy portions at meals, low quality food, and insufficient quantity of or watered down beverages are examples of this type of willful neglect. Residents can develop malnutrition and weakened immune systems without the proper nutrition. They can also face dehydration if the nursing home withholds liquids.
Interpersonal Conflict as a Motivation for Willful Neglect
Some people should not be in the business of caring for others. People who are abusive or have anger issues are dangerous when they are responsible for the care of an elderly person. Elderly residents are vulnerable to those who are providing their care. If a caregiver has an interpersonal conflict with a resident, the caregiver might make the conscious choice to intentionally harm the resident through neglect.
Examples of willful neglect motivated by interpersonal conflict include:
- Refusing to help the resident out of bed so the resident can use the bathroom, go to the dining hall, or simply get up and be socially active
- Refusing to turn a bedridden resident at the appropriate frequency to prevent bedsores
- Making a bedridden resident lie in their own waste
- Failing to bathe a resident
- Withholding food or water from a resident
- Withholding medication from a bedridden resident
- Withholding clean bed linens from a resident
- Refusing to adjust the temperature controls in the resident’s room to a comfortable level
- Withholding medical care from the resident for such things as infected wounds, fractures, and bedsores
- Withholding items the resident needs, such as hearing aids, eyeglasses, dentures, wheelchairs, or toileting equipment (e.g., bed pans, bedside commodes, urinals, etc.)
- Intentionally interfering with the resident’s religious practices
Can the nursing home be liable for either passive neglect or willful neglect?
Yes. The nursing home can be liable if a nursing home resident suffers harm from either passive or willful neglect.
Nursing home residents have certain basic rights. Neglect of a resident violates many of these basic rights. If these violations harm the resident, the resident or their family members can hold the nursing home liable.
What should I do if I suspect the nursing home is neglecting my loved one?
If you suspect your loved one is the victim of neglect or abuse, make sure you ensure their safety first. Report the neglect to the nursing home’s supervisor and then remove your loved one from the facility, if necessary.
Once you have made sure your loved one is safe, speak with a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer who can guide you through the complicated process of notifying the proper authorities and filing a claim against the nursing home.
Nursing homes have the upper hand in these cases, as they can control the entire environment of the resident. They control much of the evidence, in the resident’s file and chart, the nursing notes, the medication records, and most of the other records that are part of filing a claim against a nursing home for neglect.
This can make gathering evidence for a claim difficult, but we can handle the process of gathering all necessary evidence and filing your claim for you.
The nursing home abuse team at Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., L.P.A. will evaluate your case and provide the compassionate, professional attention you and your loved one deserve. Call 419-843-6663 today to schedule a free consultation.