Elderly people have a right to adequate care and they deserve to be looked after properly in nursing homes. Unfortunately, there is an epidemic of nursing home abuse in the UK; research is showing considerable evidence of inadequate care in nursing homes with residents suffering from both physical and emotional maltreatment. In 2014 there were 37,060 reported allegations of abuse received by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), compared with 67,590 in 2018 – an increase of 82 per cent. This guide seeks to outline 5 types of nursing home abuse present in the UK.
1. Abandonment / Neglect
A lot of the time, the abandonment of a patient is a result of the nursing home being understaffed and underfunded. For example, unintentional abandonment can occur when a caregiver is busy and fails to turn or shift patients regularly to prevent the occurrence of bedsores or when a caregiver is unable to check on patients frequently enough to ensure their needs are being met. However, abandonment can also come in the form of pure negligence. This can look like a caregiver deserting a resident without making prior arrangements to ensure they will be taken care of by another member of staff. This can critically endanger elderly patients. The patient might try to take matters into their own hands by getting out of bed or out of a wheelchair on their own and falling. Elderly patients need to be checked on regularly for various reasons and leaving them on their own for long periods of time is a form of neglect.
2. Emotional Abuse
Unlike physical abuse, it can be hard to detect the signs of emotional abuse. Caring for the elderly is a demanding and sometimes draining job; it can take its toll on staff at nursing homes. However, it is important to remember that the patients in nursing homes are extremely vulnerable, and taking out stress on elderly residents is unacceptable. if you have suspicions that a member of staff is engaging in emotionally abusive behaviour, they should be reported immediately. Emotional abuse can look like yelling, shouting, and screaming at the patients or threatening them. It can also come in the form of belittling the patient, either by name-calling, insulting, or speaking to the patient as though they were a child. Emotional abuse can also appear as intimidation or scapegoating the patient for things that were not their fault.
3. Physical Abuse
Unlike other types of abuse, physical abuse can be easier to spot. The warning signs of physical abuse might include the patient having unexplained broken bones, dislocations, or sprains. They might also develop suspicious bruising or scars or show signs of restraint on parts of the body. The line between physical abuse and neglect can be very fine; failing to give patients their medication is also a form of physical abuse as without adequate medication this can affect the patient’s physical health. Physical abuse can also look like the caregiver refusing to let you be alone with the elderly person.
4. Sexual Abuse
It is hard to think about sexual abuse of the elderly, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t go on. Opening up a conversation about this type of elder abuse could save the lives of many elderly men and women who aren’t able to speak up about what happened to them. The warning signs of sexual abuse in nursing homes include the patient having unexplained STDs or any other genital infections. The elderly patient might also have unexplained bruising around the breast area or near the genitals. Furthermore, if the patient experiences genital or anal bleeding that is not explained by a medical condition, this could also be a warning sign that they are suffering from sexual abuse in the care facility.
5. Financial Abuse
Financial elder abuse is when a patient’s money or personal belongings are stolen from them in the nursing facility. Financial abuse could look like stealing valuables from their room, forging cheques, taking their retirement earnings, or using their bank accounts and/or credit cards. Financial abuse can also include changing the names on bank accounts, wills or even the title to the elderly adult’s home. The following are warning signs of financial abuse in nursing homes:
Unexplained changes in spending behaviour
Unusual loans that the patient cannot explain
Refusal to discuss finances
The disappearance of cash, securities, and other valuables
Handing over financial control to someone new without warning
If you have suspicions that a loved one is experiencing financial abuse, it is important to discuss your concerns with them. Remember, you shouldn’t be angry with them – if they are experiencing financial abuse it is because they are vulnerable and they will be unaware of what is happening. Talk to the nursing home administrators if your suspicions increase to try and get to the bottom of it.
What To Do Next
If you believe an elderly loved one is experiencing nursing home abuse, we want to help them to receive the justice they deserve. For free, confidential advice please get in touch with our team of experienced, empathetic solicitors at 0151 541 8338 and start your claim today.