The residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities are among Ontario’s most vulnerable residents, and as the province’s population ages, the size of this demographic is set to grow dramatically. Unfortunately, some residents of Ontario’s old-age homes are already subject to neglect and abuse. We spoke with Will Davidson LLP’s Meghan Walker to learn a little bit more about abuse in nursing homes and how a personal injury lawyer can help.
Question: What qualifies as nursing home neglect or abuse?
Meghan Walker: Nursing home abuse and neglect can take many forms. It can include physical violence, emotional abuse, medical neglect, social isolation, and failing to assist the resident with their basic needs.
Q: What are common signs of nursing home neglect or abuse?
MW: There are many different examples of these types of abuse and neglect.
For example, if a staff member within a nursing home intends to cause harm to the resident, it would certainly constitute abuse. Neglect of a resident can include failing to provide adequate safety measures or failing to properly care for their medical conditions, mobility issues, or cognitive issues. Failing to provide adequate food or water or failing to provide a clean and safe environment for the resident to live will also constitute neglect. Where a resident also does not have proper assistance with bathing and other types of hygiene care, the nursing home may be found liable for their neglect. A resident being ignored by staff members of the nursing home, or a resident who is left alone without access to socialization is a victim of social and emotional neglect.
Q: Are there signs of abuse that family and friends should look out for?
MW: It is important that friends and family members visit their loved ones to ensure they are being well cared for within the nursing home. Common signs of abuse and neglect that family should watch out for include:
- Weight loss, which could possibly be the result of malnourishment, or illness
- Bruises or other unexplained sores that could have resulted from falls or abuse
- Withdrawn behaviour or a depressed mood
- Changes in personal hygiene
- Exhibiting pain behaviours when sitting or lying down, which may be the result of bed sores
When visiting a loved one, it is also important to look around the common areas of the nursing home. Do other residents seem happy and well cared for? Are there any trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall hazards around the nursing home?
While some family members are not able to visit their loves ones as much as they like, communication with the nursing home is vital. Ask for frequent updates from staff; if your calls or e-mails to staff at the nursing home go unanswered, it can be a red flag. It is also important that family members participate in care plan meetings to ensure all of the emotional and physical needs of their loved on are being addressed.
Q: When should my family contact a personal injury lawyer about nursing home abuse?
MW: Families should contact a lawyer if they have any concerns about the care their loved one is receiving as a resident in a nursing home, or if they have any questions about the rights their loved one has as a resident in a nursing home. Call or e-mail the lawyers Will Davidson LLP and we would be happy to give you a free consultation, either in person or over the phone.
Q: What should I take to my meeting with a personal injury lawyer?
MW: If you are interested in pursuing an action for abuse or neglect against a nursing home, it is helpful but not essential that you provide us with a copy of any records you have from the nursing home, including correspondence. Photographs of the alleged abuse or neglect are also helpful, but not essential.
If you believe that a family member has suffered abuse or neglect at a nursing home, contact Will Davidson LLP today to speak with a personal injury lawyer like Meghan Walker. Our team can help you understand your options and guide you through the legal process.
Image credit: Ann/Flickr