As jarring as it might be to learn, instances of nursing home abuse can surge during the holiday season, often going unnoticed amidst the festivities. It isn’t what you’d typically plan for your family in the holidays, but you should take a moment now to learn about the rights and legal options of a nursing home resident who has faced abuse or neglect, as well as what rights and options are available to their family members. Harvey & Foote Law Firm is based in New Mexico, so we’ll focus mostly on situations and rules in that state; for the most part, though, what we’ll discuss here can apply to any state.
Why Does Nursing Home Abuse Increase During the Holidays?
Nursing home abuse and neglect often see an increase during the holiday season due to a combination of factors. The holidays can be a particularly busy time for nursing home staff, with many taking time off, leading to fewer staff members available to care for residents. This can result in overworked and stressed remaining staff, increasing the risk of neglect and abuse. Additionally, with families busier with their own holiday plans and commitments, there might be less frequent visits or checks on loved ones in these facilities. This reduction in oversight can inadvertently lead to an increased risk of nursing home abuse and neglect.
What Rights Does a Nursing Home Resident Have in the Holidays?
Nursing home residents have crucial rights that are in effect year-round, irrespective of the time of year or staffing situation at the facility. These rights are enshrined in federal and state laws, and they are designed to ensure that all residents receive the care, respect, and dignity they deserve. Even during busier periods like the holiday season, when nursing homes might be understaffed, these rights and expectations of care do not change. It's crucial for residents and their families to be aware of these rights so that they can advocate effectively if they suspect neglect or abuse.
Three important rights that nursing home residents have are:
- Right to be free from abuse and neglect: This is perhaps the most fundamental right. Residents have a right to live free from physical, sexual, verbal, financial, and psychological abuse. They also have the right to be free from neglect, which includes failures in providing necessary care like food, hygiene, medicine, and a safe environment.
- Right to privacy: Residents in nursing homes have a right to privacy in all aspects of their care. This includes the right to private communication with family and friends, the right to personal space, and the right to privacy during personal care activities.
- Right to be treated with dignity and respect: Every resident has the right to be treated with consideration, respect, and dignity. This includes the right to make personal choices, such as what to wear or how to spend their time, and to be included in decisions about their care and treatment.
What Legal Options are Available to Help?
During the holiday season, when instances of nursing home abuse and neglect can increase, it's crucial to know the legal options available to victims and their families. If you suspect that a loved one has been subjected to abuse or neglect in a nursing home, the first step is to report the incident to the local authorities and the administration of the nursing home. It's imperative to document any evidence of abuse or neglect, such as physical injuries, changes in behavior, or inconsistencies in medication or care.
In terms of legal recourse, victims of nursing home abuse or their families can consider the following options:
- Civil lawsuit: Filing a civil lawsuit against the nursing home facility can provide compensation for the victim’s injuries, pain and suffering, and medical expenses. This type of legal action often requires the assistance of an experienced attorney who focuses on nursing home abuse cases.
- Negligence claim: If the nursing home failed in its duty of care towards the resident, a negligence claim may be appropriate. This could arise from understaffing, inadequate training, or failure to monitor residents properly.
- Reporting to state agencies: Each state has agencies responsible for regulating nursing homes. Reporting the abuse or neglect to these agencies can result in investigations, penalties for the nursing home, and increased oversight.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse in New Mexico, please contact Harvey & Foote Law Firm as soon as you can. We remain available and committed to providing legal assistance year-round, including the holiday season when many other law firms take time off. Our experienced team is ready to help you navigate the legal process, fight for justice, and seek the compensation you deserve.
Call (505) 295-2245 now.