What Is the Difference Between Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse?

What Is the Difference Between Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse? is contributed by Walton Law in December, 2023, as an online article at VibrantSeniorOptions.com

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According to a recent Gallup poll, 70% of survey participants were concerned about the quality of care nursing homes provide. 45% of the survey participants were also concerned that living in a nursing home would have a negative effect on their mental/emotional health, and 27% were concerned about their physical safety.

Those fears are real. Too many seniors experience some form of abuse while they are residing in a nursing home. Although neglect is considered a form of abuse, it is also considered a separate type of injury entirely. The distinction is minimal, but it is important to recognize the differences. 

The federal government defines abuse to be the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain or mental anguish. Abuse also includes the deprivation by an individual, including a caretaker, of goods or services that are necessary to attain or maintain physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being.

What is nursing home neglect?

The federal government defines neglect as the failure of the facility, its employees or service providers to provide goods and services to a resident that are necessary to avoid physical harm, pain, mental anguish, or emotional distress.

If you think of abuse as being active, you can think of neglect as inactive; if you think of “abuse” as intentional, you can think of “neglect” as either intentional or unintentional. It occurs when nursing home staff do not attend to the needs of a resident to their detriment.

Who commits nursing home abuse and neglect?

In addition to understanding the differences between abuse and neglect, it’s also helpful for families residing in Whatcom, Snohomish and Skagit counties to identify the typical perpetrators of these offenses. Although other residents and even family members or friends can commit abuse, offenders can also be the people who spend the most time with the residents: nursing home staff, which primarily includes nursing assistants and licensed nursing staff.

Administrative staff may also be involved with nursing home abuse or neglect because they are in a unique position to commit financial abuse, or they can commit emotional abuse by withholding information from relatives, for example. Additionally, they can be held liable for the nursing staff’s abuse, especially if they are negligent.

Who to talk to if you are concerned about nursing home neglect or abuse

When seniors transition from their homes into nursing homes, they should expect differences and certain challenges. One thing that they shouldn’t have to deal with is abuse. If you suspect that a loved one’s rights have been violated or that they have been neglected or abused in a nursing home, you must take action immediately to protect them.

In Washington state, you can notify the Ombudsman Program—an organization that helps advocate for long-term care residents.

You can also talk to an expert in nursing home law who will work to ensure that the nursing home is held accountable. Walton Law is here for you. Our compassionate, experienced team is ready to help you navigate the complexities of the law. Live chat with us by visiting www.waltonlawapc.com/ or call us at (360) 503-0231 to get started.

Walton Law, APC
Washington Office

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