Nursing homes are meant to be places of rest where senior citizens are taken care of and protected. Unfortunately, many older adults and their families are still dissatisfied with the current standards of nursing home care. Further, according to the Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, caseworkers responded to 16,000 reports of elder abuse and neglect.
So what do you do if you suspect someone you love has been a victim of elder abuse? There are regulations governing nursing homes and patient rights.
Nursing Home Laws
Massachusetts law gives nursing home residents the right to refuse social services and support services plans, the right to give written consent for admission and services at a Community Support Facility, and the right to refuse antipsychotic medication. The law also protects elders age 60 and over from elder abuse. Although there are separate laws for nursing homes and at-home care, both require doctors, nurses, and professional caretakers to report any incidents of elder abuse they see, or risk being fined up to $1,000.
Massachusetts defines elder abuse and neglect as stealing or abusing money or property, serious emotional, verbal, or physical harm, and caretaker neglect. Although it may be hard to prove abuse or neglect, some signs you can look for include visible or hidden physical injuries (such as bruises, cuts, sprains, or broken bones), especially if the caretaker is not able to explain them, depression or mood swings, signs of overmedication, paranoia or fear of caretakers, malnutrition, poor hygiene, bedsores, and any complaints of abuse.
What to Do
If you believe an older adult has been abused, there are two numbers you can call. During normal business hours, call the Massachusetts Department of Elder Affairs toll-free at 1-800-882-2003, or the Massachusetts Elder Abuse Hot Line at 1-800-922-2275 after hours to keep your report confidential.
A caseworker from Protective Services will investigate and help the senior create a plan that may include safety planning, health care, housing or counseling. Nothing will be forced – the senior has final say on any protective services unless he or she is not competent and able to make the decision, in which case the caseworker may petition for a temporary guardianship.
If you are unsure of your rights or those of someone you love, contact our attorneys today.