How Can You Identify an Abusive Nursing Home? Keeping Your Chicago, Illinois Loved Ones Safe

The decision to place a loved one in a nursing home isn’t an easy one, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. This facility could either be the place of many new friendships and happy memories for your parent or grandparent, or it could be a prison where they feel trapped and helpless: this all depends on how carefully you investigate the nursing home before deciding to sign your loved one in. 

Nursing home abuse is widespread throughout the United States, but it is a fast-growing issue across Chicagoland, thanks to an aging population and the continued corporatization of the industry. This heartbreaking story of neglect in a Chicago nursing home is just one of many – and it shares many of the warning signs that you should look out for when selecting a center for your loved one. In this article, we’ll investigate some of the signals that a nursing home may be dangerous, as well as discuss how you can get justice for a loved one who was harmed by abusive or negligent care staff.

Use your eyes – and nose – to check for neglect

One of the most obvious signs of a bad nursing home is that it is dirty or in disrepair. If the air smells foul or there are soiled linens in rooms, this means that the facility is not enforcing a strict cleaning schedule, which can lead to deadly infections in vulnerable senior citizens. Small issues like burned-out lightbulbs or cracked decorations suggest understaffing or a lack of attention to detail, two factors that are critical for any nursing facility. Check also for clutter on the floor, which could lead to serious falls, as well as a lack of safety features like handrails and emergency call buttons.

Consider the emotional atmosphere too

Most humans are pretty sensitive to the feelings of others; we can guess when something may be amiss with someone, even if we don’t know them well. If there is an oppressive feeling in the air of the nursing home, it doesn’t bode well for those joining the community. While, of course, people will have bad days, and not everyone wants to be in a nursing home, if it seems that every resident you come across looks depressed and withdrawn, this likely means that the staff do not treat them well and that their emotional needs are not being adequately addressed.

If the facility is a ghost town, this is a major issue

A good nursing home is a bustling, vibrant community, with plenty of activities for residents and lots of staff to care for their needs. If you have trouble chasing down staff to ask questions, or it seems like all the residents are hiding away in their rooms, there are likely few recreational options and not enough support for more vulnerable individuals.

Ask to speak to a resident about their experiences

It’s not uncommon for nursing homes to have resident representatives who liaise with the staff and speak to potential residents, whether this is an official designation or an unofficial decision. If the facility is cagey about letting you talk to the residents or tries to keep you away from them, the staff is probably aware that their charges won’t have many positive things to say about their experiences there. Regardless of whether they encourage you to speak to current residents, take a look at those that you pass. Do you notice bruises on multiple residents in areas where they might have been grabbed or pushed? Are many of the residents lethargic or look very ill? These can tell you that you might want to look for a different nursing home for your loved one.

Other ways of restricting information are equally concerning

Something you should always ask about is their visitation and participation policies. You should not be unduly prevented from visiting with your loved one whenever you choose, and you should be encouraged to take an active role in their care whenever possible; if the nursing home doesn’t seem interested in having you around, they are likely trying to hide their misdeeds. Look also for facilities that are evasive about answering direct questions or refuse to give a tour, as these are also indicators that they are not being fully transparent about their procedures.

Even if a facility seems great, there may still be abuse, so remain vigilant

While these are some of the most common signs of a bad nursing home, there are others that aren’t so obvious and that may only become evident long after your loved one has become a resident. This is why it’s essential that you remain active in your relative’s care, understand their rights as a resident, and never hesitate to contact a nursing home abuse lawyer if you feel that your family member is in danger. 

There is no such thing as being too involved in your loved one’s care: you are their greatest advocate, and your participation can make a huge difference in how they are treated by staff. Any nursing home who discourages you from being an active part of your parent or grandparent’s care may not have the best intentions, and may be attempting to hide their own misdeeds. Visit often, stay observant, and always know that there are avenues to justice should you fear the worst about your loved one’s nursing home.