No matter how well you researched a nursing home before placing your family member there, you could someday suspect that he is the victim of nursing home abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, your family member may be unable to complain about the abuse himself, and he may be relying on you to stop the abuse and help him pursue his claim for compensation against the nursing home. As soon as you suspect that abuse is occurring, you should take immediate steps to document it.
Why Is Documenting the Nursing Home Abuse Important?
Obtaining documentation of the nursing home abuse that your loved one is experiencing is important for a few reasons. First, you want to obtain any evidence you can of the abuse before you contact the nursing home administration to discuss your concerns. You cannot assume that the nursing home will agree that the abuse is occurring. By having concrete evidence of the abuse to show to the person you are meeting with, you make it harder for him to deny the abuse is occurring. Hopefully, this will result in a quick investigation that stops the mistreatment.
In addition, you will need to prove that the abuse occurred if you must pursue a claim for compensation for your loved one. You will need the documentation you collect for this purpose. It may be also easier to obtain this proof before you complain to the nursing home because they could try to destroy or hide evidence of abuse once they know you are watching them.
What Documentation Do You Want to Collect?
There are many different types of nursing home abuse, such as physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, and failure to provide proper nutrition and liquids. Depending on the type of abuse you suspect your loved one is experiencing, you may want to collect this documentation:
- Detailed log. You want to keep a detailed log where you write about any incidents of suspected abuse. Be specific with details such as the date and time, witnesses, perpetrator, and a description of what happened. Use the log to record any information related to the complaint, such as steps you took to stop the abuse, any medical care your loved one required, and documentation of other compensation he could be entitled to. Keep the log somewhere safe—not in the nursing home.
- Gather the facts. Discuss your concerns with other family members and have them help you in your efforts to document the abuse.
- Collect witness information. You want to collect the contact information for any witnesses, such as other staff members, residents, or their guests, who may have witnessed the abuse. You should also get a statement from any witnesses while their memories of what happened are still clear.
- Take photos and videos. While not all abuse is visible, take pictures and video of any signs of abuse that you can see, such as torn clothes, bruises, weight loss, and more.
- Gather financial records. If you suspect that someone is stealing from your family member, you will need to obtain copies of the financial documents pertaining to the theft to prove that it occurred.
- Obtain medical records. If your family member needed medical or psychological treatment due to the abuse and neglect, you will want to obtain copies of the medical records and any bills to prove he suffered injuries and the medical costs he is entitled to compensation for.
- Records of your complaints. As well as talking to nursing home officials about the abuse, you want to make a written complaint. Keep copies of any written complaints and responses and also a detailed description of what happened at any meetings in your log.
While you want to immediately start collecting documents on your own, you should also quickly contact an experienced elder abuse & neglect attorney who can advise you on what documentation you need and help you make your complaint to the nursing home. Start an online chat or call our office to schedule your free consultation to learn how Brauns Law can help you.