Unfortunately, American nursing home residents are hidden from everyday life. Many are confined to their facilities, spend most of their time in their rooms and have few outlets for communication. For this reason, nursing home neglect and abuse often go unnoticed and facilities may get away with blatant violations.

During COVID-19, these deficiencies in communication have been magnified. Both families and watch dogs are being kept away from facilities due to social distancing measures, which fails to keep nursing homes accountable. Unfortunately, some areas are seeing spikes in resident COVID-19 deaths due to mismanagement at all levels.

New York legislators recently launched an investigation into Governor Cuomo’s COVID-19 nursing home strategies. Namely, critics cite policies that brought sick COVID-19 patients back into nursing homes as a way to relieve overwhelmed hospitals. Furthermore, the administration may have vastly underreported nursing home COVID-19 deaths.

Now, the accepted duty of care in nursing homes is a center of public debate. Especially with the uncertain future for a rapid coronavirus recovery, seniors in nursing homes represent one of the most critical at-risk populations. For that reason, it is important to understand what constitutes a nursing home’s duty of care and ways to protect loved ones from violations.

Defining Duty of Care

In a general sense, duty of care is a legal responsibility for someone to avoid behaving in a manner that will likely harm others. For nursing homes, this means that the duty of care is based on the residency contract, industry standards and adherence to medical protocols.

Namely, nursing homes are required to provide patients with protection, safety and care. This means that nursing homes must administer some medical services as needed, and may be liable for failing to provide the duty of care required by law and general medical protocols.

During the pandemic, nursing homes have additional responsibilities to protect their residents. This pandemic duty of care may include: providing proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to residents and staff, isolating sick residents and staff, taking swift action to prevent outbreaks and limiting interpersonal interactions.

If a nursing home fails to do some of the aforementioned responsibilities to keep its staff and residents safe, it may be held liable for breaching the standard duty of care.

How to Deal with Nursing Home COVID-19 Violations

“Nursing home abuse and neglect can come in a variety of ways during COVID-19,” says Attorney Sean Domnick of Domnick Cunningham & Whalen. “In addition to mismanaging outbreaks, typical nursing home abuse issues can come as a result of new policies. In particular, COVID-19 restrictions on interpersonal contact with staff can lead to medical treatment refusal, improper medication administration and resident neglect. All of these problems are serious and you should report these infractions immediately.”

Attorney Sean Domnick lists these 5 common signs of nursing home neglect:

-Pressure ulcers (bed sores)
-Unexplained injuries and bruises throughout the body
-Signs of malnutrition, like a drastic weight loss or weight gain
-Unsanitary and unclean conditions
-Resident reluctance to speak while in presence of facility staff and other sudden behavioral changes

Although those signs do not guarantee nursing home abuse has occurred, it is important to speak with your loved ones to learn more about their living situation. Oftentimes a transition into a nursing home can be tough, with or without staff abuse. For this reason, be sure to collect your own evidence and contact a hardworking attorney if you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect.

Now more than ever, it is important to keep your eyes open to potential nursing home abuse and report it to protect your loved ones.

Author's Bio: 

John Smith is a Digital Marketing Consultant with more than 8 years of experience in SEO, SEM, SMO, blogging, etc having wide knowledge base into content marketing.