Nursing home abuse may be vastly underreported

For Tennessee families that have made the decision to place a loved one into residential care, concerns over that person’s welfare and treatment are a constant. Relying on strangers to provide the daily needs that many elderly or incapacitated family members need can be a difficult scenario, and families place a great deal of trust into the caregivers chosen to fill that role. One recent report, however, suggests that nursing home abuse may be seriously underreported. This leaves many families unsure of how to best ensure that their loved one is being properly cared for.

The report was issued from the office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Using data collected from just over 200 nursing facilities, researchers estimate that as many as 85 percent of all nursing homes report at least one abuse or neglect allegation each year. Of those incidents that were reported, nearly one in four were concerning abuse suffered at the hands of another resident. An additional 40 percent of reported incidents were based on claims that an employee caused the abuse or neglect.

Even more unsettling, researchers believe that nearly one-quarter of nursing homes create or maintain policies outlining the federal rules that require reporting instances of abuse or neglect. Only 61 percent of nursing homes were able to produce documentation that demonstrated compliance with reporting policies. When looking at those incidents that were reported, nearly half of the reports did not meet federal reporting standards.

For Tennessee families that have placed a relative into residential care, these findings underscore the need to remain engaged in the life of that loved one, and to be alert as to suggestions of nursing home abuse or neglect. There is no person better able to identify substandard care than a loved one who knows the resident and can pick up on changes in his or her condition or mood. For those who believe that their loved one may have been subjected to abuse or neglect, it is important to know that there are avenues of legal recourse available.