June has been designated as Elder Abuse Awareness Month. This has become even more critical given how nursing homes and assisted living facilities around the country have been impacted by the COVID-pandemic. According to federal statistics, more than 25,000 nursing home residents have died from the virus and at least 60,000 more residents infected by the virus. Tragically, these numbers increase daily. What is even more tragic is that many of these victims come from facilities that already have a history of questionable patient care and staffing.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Virginia
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect cases are an issue right here in Virginia. According to an investigation conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation that examined data over a five-year period, more than 90 percent of all certified nursing homes in Virginia have received deficiency citations from the state agency that oversees these facilities, the Department of Health’s Long-Term Care Division. The average number of deficiencies each facility was cited for was 10. Even more alarming was the revelation was that every year, about 20 percent of Virginia’s facilities are cited for deficiencies that cause actual harm of residents or put residents’ safety in jeopardy.
ProPublica keeps track of all nursing home violations in the United States, including here in Virginia. Out of 287 facilities in the state, 28 facilities have been cited for serious deficiencies and 244 facilities have been cited for infection-related deficiencies.
Do You Suspect Abuse or Neglect?
One of the most frequent reasons why nursing home abuse or neglect does not get reported is because the elderly victim really has no family to tell. The victim may also fear retribution by the abuser if they tell. Many victims also feel ashamed that the abuse is happening to them.
There are several types of nursing home abuse that a resident can be a victim of. These include:
- Physical abuse: This can take the form of causing bruises, slapping, pushing, or infliction of pain or injury, either through physical or chemical means.
- Emotional abuse: Using verbal or nonverbal (threats, intimidation, humiliation) acts in order to cause emotional pain, distress, or anguish.
- Sexual abuse: Any form of non-consensual sexual contact.
- Exploitation: Stealing, concealing, misusing the victim’s money, assets, or property for their own benefit.
- Neglect: Failing to provide the victim with food, shelter, personal care, medical care, and other necessary needs.
Recognizing Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Because so many nursing home abuse victims do not tell anyone they are being abused, it is important for family and others who are close to the victim to be aware of the signs that can indicate their loved one is being abused or neglected. Some of the most common signs are:
- Unexplained abrasions, bruises, burns, and fractured bones
- Changes in mood, sudden withdrawal, depression
- Mental confusion, unexplained weight loss, slurred speech
- Bedsores, poor hygiene, medical needs not being met
- Missing money, property, or sudden changes in their financial situation
If you suspect your elderly loved one is being abused or neglected, it is critical to take immediate steps. Report your suspicions to the nursing home director. You should also contact a Virginia nursing home abuse attorney who can assist you in reporting the abuse to the appropriate authorities.
Let a Skilled Virginia Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Help
If your elderly loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, a Virginia nursing home abuse attorney from our firm can explain what legal recourse your family may have. At Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn, we have been aggressively advocating for victims for more than three decades and have helped many nursing home abuse victims receive compensation for their injuries, as well as hold the perpetrators who committed the abuse responsible.
Contact our office today to set up a free and confidential consultation with one of our dedicated nursing home abuse attorneys today.
An experienced personal injury attorney with dual licensure in Virginia and North Carolina, Eric Washburn received a B.B.A. in Finance from James Madison University—initially worked in the information technology field before obtaining his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. Once an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Danville, Va., Eric has been recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine as a “Rising Star” Super Lawyer in Virginia since 2014.