It might come as a surprise that care and nursing home abuse and neglect happen quite frequently in the UK. While most occurrences are accidental, with many homes understaffed and staff overworked, a patient’s suffering can still be classed as “abuse”, even though it was unintentional.
Of course, any sort of abuse an elderly loved one falls victim to is devastating for you, them and your family. It can lead to you and your family losing trust in healthcare professionals and may result in you taking your loved one out of care and looking after them at home. This could mean you have to leave employment, temporarily or permanently, which can put you under huge financial strain.
In a situation like this, it is worth contacting law firms who specialise in medical negligence solicitors. They may be able to represent you in a claim against the nursing or care home where your loved one experienced neglect and/or abuse. The ideal end result of a claim would be to get you compensated for any loss of earnings that you have had to suffer because of having to leave your job to look after your loved one.
What is considered to be abuse?
As mentioned above, abuse can be intentional or accidental. There are a range of behaviours which are considered to be abusive that you should look out for and raise the alarm about if you notice them. The types of abusive behaviour include:
- Physical abuse: this type of abuse may have symptoms such as bruises, burns and bed sores
- Psychological abuse: this type of abuse may have symptoms such as feeling anxious, confused or fearful, and being unable to sleep
- Financial abuse: this type of abuse may have symptoms such as missing possessions, missing funds and having payments bounce or be recalled by their bank
- Sexual abuse: this type of abuse may have symptoms such as torn or soiled clothing, changes in behaviour, feeling anxious around people and intimate injuries
- Neglectful abuse: this type of abuse may have symptoms such as unexplainable weight loss, wearing inappropriate clothing, and generally being in a poor physical condition
- Discrimination: being discriminated against may lead to your loved one displaying symptoms such as low self-esteem, uncharacteristically angry outbursts and being withdrawn
If you notice any of the signs above, make sure you tell a member of staff in the nursing or care home straight away. It may be able to be dealt with internally but depending on how severe the abuse is and how your loved one is doing, you may want to remove them from the home immediately. It’s always a good idea to seek legal advice if you are unsure about what your next steps should be, especially if you think there has been some sort of medical negligence at play.
Signs of nursing and care home abuse to watch out for
Nursing and care home abuse can come in many different forms, as listed above. There are therefore a number of warning signs that may indicate to you that your loved one is suffering. These include, but are not limited to:
- Over or under medication, or medication errors
- Unexplained injuries
- Bed sores, or lack of treatment of them
Remember, your loved one’s condition or even their medication could be causing them to become dehydrated, or more prone to injury. However, saying that, the nursing or care home should always keep you up to date with any changes in behaviours, eating and drinking habits, and should inform you of any injuries your loved one has sustained.
Keeping up communication with staff in care homes can be difficult because they often rotate, so it may not be the same person on shift every time you visit. However, everything should be documented. If something is unexplainable, that’s when it might be time to put in a complaint. If things get very severe, you should make contact with a legal professional, who will be able to assess the situation and advise you on the best steps to take next.