We frequently hear from family members who are concerned about the care their relative is receiving at a nursing home. The concerns range from injuries due to falls – to bedsores – to outright abuse. This blog answers some basic questions about what family members can do in this situation.
Your Gut Feelings May be Correct
Many nursing homes provide appropriate care. However, there are numerous instances where neglect or abuse happens and results in a serious decline in a resident’s quality of life. Our experience has been that family members often suspect something is wrong long before things get critical.
Demand a Meeting
If you are uncertain whether your relative is being cared for appropriately, you can request a meeting with the nursing home staff. Request that the Director of Nursing and Assistant Director of Nursing be present.
The nursing home may require that medical information releases be signed by your relative allowing the nurses to discuss the medical conditions at issue. A power of attorney relating to health care issues or a designation of a health care surrogate will allow a specific person to discuss medical conditons with the nurses; however, other family members may not be able to attend. If you do not have forms for a records release or a power of attorney/health care surrogate, our law firm can provide these forms to you free of cost.
The resident should sign such documents while he or she retains the capacity to comprehend what is being signed. Documents executed after the resident no longer has the capacity to understand what has been signed may not be effective.
Residents always have the right to move to a different nursing home. If it is decided that your relative will stay in the same nursing home, write a letter that summarizes the promises made by the staff and mail it to the nursing home’s admininstrator via certified mail. This will get their attention and may turn statements that were only intended to appease you into real action.
Get the Records
It is important to obtain your relative’s nursing home records. You will need a signed release. The nursing home records can be hard to read and signs of negligence or abuse are usually not obvious.
Have a Nurse Review the Nursing Home Records
Having a nurse that is not affiliated with the nursing home review the records may reveal issues of concern or neglect. These nurses routinely review records for nursing home neglect and injury cases and know what to look for in order to determine if neglect is taking place. Our firm can provide you with contact information for nurses in the Jacksonville area who are willing to review records at a reasonable cost.
Call the Abuse Hotline
Florida’s Department of Children and Families investigates abuse or neglect of vulnerable adults, The hotline number is 1(800)96-ABUSE. Calls are answered at any time of the day, 365 days a year. The person with whom you speak can tell you know if the matter will be investigated. Information regarding the hotline is located here.
Call an Attorney that Focuses on Nursing Home Cases
Lawyers are typically willing to consult with you without cost to discuss your situation. If the case seems strong, you will probably be able to retain the nursing home lawyer via a contingency fee agreement, through which you only have to pay attorney fees and costs in the event of a settlement or verdict in your favor.
Please let us know if we can help you with a nursing home neglect or abuse case in the Northeast Florida – Jacksonville area, including Clay County, Nassau County, Duval County, St. Johns County, Baker County, Union County, Putnam County, Flagler County, Alachua County, Volusia County, Bradford County, and Columbia County.