The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of our communities, but unfortunately, the demographic that has been hardest hit is the elderly. Largely confined to their residences, a large percentage of our elderly population in assisted living facilities have been unable to interact with family and friends for almost a year now.
This increased time spent in facilities means an increased burden of care for health workers, which in turn means an increased number of nursing home abuse cases. Now, to be fair, our healthcare workers have shouldered more than enough responsibility in keeping us safe and healthy. An overwhelming majority due to their jobs with diligence and care– however, cases do inevitably slip through the cracks.
Even before the pandemic hit, abuse cases were a topic of concern for assisted living facilities. In 2014 alone, there were over 14,000 incidents of abuse, and it is said that over fifty percent of cases go unreported. Since COVID-19, those numbers are expected to have gone up significantly for a number of reasons, including:
- An increased number of patients in facilities due to COVID
- A sharp uptick in workload due to patients’ inability to leave, which greatly increases worker frustration
- Large numbers of inexperienced healthcare workers who have never had to deal with these kind of circumstances
- Increased pressure from patients and their families which causes tempers to rise
Due to the fact that visitors have been completely disallowed in most facilities, patients have been more isolated against their assailants than ever before. Some facilities have even been caught falsely adjusting their reviews to look more favorable online.
Different Forms of Abuse
In assisted living facilities, abuse can happen in a variety of different ways. Here are some of the most common:
- Physical abuse: This is the most common form of harm– physical abuse includes any incident in which a patient was hurt by force, whether it be a shove, trip, blow, or slap. Almost a quarter of reported incidents include physical abuse.
- Resident-on-resident abuse: When facilities become too lax or too busy, it becomes harder to properly keep track of residents and communicate with them about any problems. When that happens, abuse between residents can become a major problem.
- Psychological and verbal abuse: Psychological, verbal, and emotional abuse are some of the most difficult to notice because there are no physical signs. However, they are still prevalent and they still have a negative impact on residents’ quality of life. Most patients suffering from these kinds of abuse are likely scared to speak out, lest the harm should elevate to physical.
- Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse is considered the least common, yet most disturbing form of harm. Any unwanted sexual contact is considered sexual abuse– a majority of cases involve men as the perpetrator, although some cases invlolve women as well. Mental patients, such as those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s, are appallingly at risk for sexual abuse.
- Financial exploitation: When a patient’s financial resources are being manipulated or otherwise withheld, he or she is a victim of financial abuse. Abuse of finances is the single-most reported issue in assisted living facilities, as almost all residents have their finances handled by someone else other than themselves.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of any of the aforementioned forms of nursing home abuse, or have any other legal questions regarding nursing homes, consider contacting the experienced team of Las Vegas nursing home attorneys at Van Law Firm.
Our personal injury and wrongful death lawyers can recover multiple forms of compensation, including medical reimbursement, pain and suffering, and punitive damages. Call (702) 529-1011 today to get your case started with a free and confidential consultation.