In nearly all areas of life, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us our weaknesses—and that’s especially true for nursing homes. As a nursing home abuse lawyer in Memphis, I saw a lot of horrible cases of neglect long before Covid hit. Still, the pandemic made what was already a terrible situation worse.
Here’s what’s happening in our nursing homes, why it’s happening, and what you can do about it.
Reports of Abuse and Neglect
Nursing home abuse has skyrocketed during the pandemic. You may remember hearing news in 2020 about nursing homes underreporting their death rates, locking out families and loved ones, and otherwise becoming disastrous places to live.
When Human Rights Watch investigated this problem, they discovered it was far worse than most of us imagined. They found evidence of:
…extreme weight loss, dehydration, untreated bedsores, inadequate hygiene, mental and physical decline, and inappropriate use of psychotropic medications among nursing home residents.
Families of residents reported their loved ones became more lethargic and quiet—made worse by not being able to have visitors.
One woman interviewed said she had to demand the nursing home take her mother to the emergency room after she became unresponsive. Once there, the hospital doctor said her mother had experienced extreme weight loss during the pandemic and had a large, infected bedsore. Soon after, she died from sepsis because the sore had gone untreated for so long.
Why Did Nursing Home Abuse Rise During Covid?
According to investigators, witnesses, and family members, nursing home abuse has risen during Covid because of two main factors:
- Closing facilities to outside visitors
Firstly, nearly every nursing home in the country is chronically short-staffed. This was true before the pandemic, but Covid-19 made the problem much worse. Staff who had immunocompromised family members quit. Anyone with Covid symptoms or close contacts with Covid had to stay home. Volunteers couldn’t come in.
As a result, workers that used to help seven people a day (already too high a number) suddenly saw their patient list double. Even the best and most caring healthcare workers had a hard time keeping up with the workload.
Secondly, many of these facilities used to depend on family members coming in to help. Sometimes a loved one would assist with bathing, feeding, or moving a bedridden family member, which opened up time for the staff.
And critically, those same family members would help hold facilities accountable. By being present on a regular basis, they would notice problems sooner and demand action.
Once Covid hit, most nursing homes shut off all visitations. This made the workload even worse for staff, while at the same time it made sure no one from the outside saw what was happening behind closed doors.
Stopping This Abuse: Ideas From A Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Memphis
If you want to help stop this abuse, the first step is to understand the problem in your local area. States have started to make some effort to curb nursing home abuse.
For example, Ohio passed a law allowing cameras in nursing home rooms that just went into effect. Some states have also created investigative panels that send in regulators to check on patients.
Still, even with these efforts, the best way we can stop this abuse continues to be the courts. Many of these nursing homes simply don’t care until they face the possibility of legal action.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of nursing home abuse, you need to speak with an attorney. It’s the best way to get justice for your loved one and prevent this from happening to someone else.
At Darrell Castle & Associates, we take on the nursing homes and win. What’s more, our whole team will show your family the compassion and respect you deserve—the compassion tragically lacking in nursing homes today. And we don’t win a thing unless you do.
Call me today for a free conversation. You can reach us at 901-327-2100 or by filling out the form below. I look forward to speaking with you.