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Relatives dealing with North Carolina nursing home neglect

Adult children cannot stay with parents in North Carolina long-term care facilities 24 hours a day. That doesn't mean concerns disappear when visiting times end. It's natural to be worried about the care a loved one receives, particularly when a parent's awareness or communication skills are limited.

It's likely you researched the background of a parent's nursing home.You may have toured the facility and learned about the services, rules, programs and costs. This is a good first step, but not the last one a family member should make to prevent instances of nursing home neglect or abuse.

Long-term care facilities have large staffs on shifting schedules. An elderly patient may interact with dozens of people daily. The nursing home owner or operator can be held accountable for harm to residents.

Some nursing homes fail to hire enough staff to cover all the duties required to care for residents properly. Consequently, residents suffer from neglect because nurses and others are pulled in too many directions simultaneously. The lack of care may not be obvious immediately, but signs of mistreatment soon appear.

Family members should watch for changes in a parent's mental and physical conditionsand listen carefully to complaints. Red flags include evidence of dehydration or malnutrition, atrophied muscles and bedsores from lack of movement and the use of restraints, including the misuse of drugs to control a resident's responses.

The actions you take following these discoveries depend upon the seriousness of the poor treatment. Start with your parent's immediate contacts -- jump to no conclusions, until you've had an opportunity to speak with caregivers. Get involved in family-council sessions or other available meetings.

When answers at the caregiver level are unsatisfactory, move up the chain. Successively, speak with a supervisor, lodge a written complaint with the facility and contact a state ombudsman. Discussing the case with an elder abuse attorney can be beneficial.

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