Suspect Nursing Home Abuse? Here’s What Minnesotans Can Do
Many older people live in care facilities across Minnesota. Unfortunately, along with the number of people who live in these environments, neglect and abuse occur more frequently than one may hope.
According to the federal government and Minnesota state government, residents of long-term care facilities have the right to live free from mental, sexual, verbal, and physical abuse, involuntary seclusion, and any form of corporal punishment. Still, nursing home abuse is something you must be aware of if you have a loved one living in that environment.
Here are the signs you should look for if you’re concerned about nursing home abuse or neglect of a loved one and what steps you should take to stop it.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Defined
Government regulations define nursing home neglect as “the failure to, whether unintentional or intentional, provide someone with the services and care necessary to prevent pain or harm”. It also involves a failure to react to situations that pose a danger to the resident or cause them harm and anxiety.
Abuse, on the other hand, is defined as the intentional infliction of injuries to a person. It could include activities that intimidate them, confine them unreasonably, or deprive them of care. Punishment that results in pain, harm, or mental distress is also part of the definition of abuse.
Signs of Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes
Abuse and neglect can occur verbally or physically. Some of the most common signs to be on the lookout for include:
- Sudden or unusual changes in behavior, i.e. scared to be touched
- Bed injuries
- Unclear or unsanitary conditions
- Withdrawn, non-communicative, or emotionally agitated or upset behavior
- Unexplained injuries including cuts, welts, bruises, or wounds
- Unexpected or unexplained death
- Head injuries, fractures, or falls
- Reluctance to speak in the presence of staff
- Desire to be isolated from other people
You should also do some digging if your loved one experiences any of the following:
- Treatment in the emergency room for an injury
- An incident in which a bone is broken
- Injury or death after an episode of wandering from the facility.
What To Do If You Suspect Neglect or Abuse
If you suspect your loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home, there are channels you can go through in Minnesota that will investigate your claims.
The Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center is the one place you can go no matter where the abuse and neglect are occurring in the state. You can report abuse or neglect to them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You can either call them to file a complaint or use their reporting tool via website. After they get your report, they will refer it to the proper agency in the state.
Depending on the nature of your report, they can involve the Minnesota Department of Health or the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Social service agencies in your specific county may also get involved.
If you feel that your loved one is in an emergency situation, don’t waste time – call 911. After your loved one is safe, then contact an attorney that specializes in nursing home abuse and neglect.
About the Author:
A lifelong Minnesotan, founding partner Ronald R. Envall has spent his entire legal career fighting for the little guy, focusing on workers’ compensation, Social Security, and personal injury cases. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers as a Top Rated attorney in Duluth, placing him in the top 5 percent of all workers comp lawyers across the state. In his free time, Mr. Envall serves on the boards of several area government and nonprofit organizations and is a member of the Minnesota Association for Justice, which supports consumer rights.