While most of us know that nursing home abuse is a major problem in the United States, it’s hard to imagine that it could ever happen to a loved one. But we all must recognize the very real possibility that our family members could suffer mistreatment in a long-term care facility—especially with the surge in recent years of issues related to understaffing and the spread of infection.
A 2022 report from the WHO showed that 2 in 3 care facility staff members admitted to committing abuse in the past year.
No matter how challenging the work environment may be, there is never an excuse for a staff member to commit abuse. Care providers who violate the rights of nursing home residents must be held accountable. At Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm, we fight for justice on behalf of elder abuse or nursing home neglect victims in Texas.
If you know or suspect that a loved one was abused or neglected, a Brownsville nursing home abuse lawyer from our personal injury law office is available for a free case evaluation. We’ll go over the details of your case to determine your legal options and the best way to protect your loved one’s future.
The nursing home abuse attorneys on our team are dedicated to representing victims of resident mistreatment and neglect. We provide helpful and supportive legal guidance to families in the Brownsville area, Cameron County, and throughout Texas. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation with an attorney on our team.
How Can a Brownsville Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Help?
A large number of families in Brownsville entrust the services of nursing homes in our surrounding area. Facilities like Brownsville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Spanish Meadows, Ebony Lake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and Alta Vista Rehabilitation and Healthcare collectively provide care to thousands of older adults in our community.
The services nursing homes offer are indispensable to the wellbeing of our senior populations. Long-term care facilities have the resources to give the medical care and round-the-clock support that most family and care providers are unable to accommodate at home.
The importance of nursing homes to our city’s health makes it even more critical that we hold these institutions to the highest standards of care.
Texas law bans nursing home abuse and neglect and gives victims and their families the means to seek justice and prevent future harm. A personal injury lawyer specializing in nursing home abuse cases can help you and your loved one work toward:
- Health. Personal injury claims help victims recover damages that make quality, long-term physical and psychological health care affordable.
- Safety. Legal action can give your loved one the financial means to change nursing homes or find a safer solution for their ongoing care and residency.
- Quality of Life. Nursing home residents should not be forced to make sacrifices because they were emotionally, physically, or financially devastated by abuse. Nursing home abuse attorneys help victims achieve the means to enjoy their remaining years in peace and comfort.
- Protecting Others. A successful case can block an abuser from access to potential future victims and force facility administration to reexamine negligence in staff hiring and monitoring. If you don’t take action on behalf of your loved one, the chances that another resident will be victimized are high.
- Systemic Improvement. Change is made when large-scale issues in nursing homes are addressed and penalized, setting an example for other nursing homes. Our attorneys use the law to make sure facilities are held accountable for negligence like understaffing, overworking, inadequate staff-to-resident ratios, poor staff communication, insufficient protocols for abuse and neglect, and unsafe premises.
What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse?
Elder mistreatment is categorized by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) as harmful behavior that takes on one of the following five forms:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
- Emotional abuse
We’ll first examine the four types of abusive behavior before looking in more detail at the difference between nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect.
Any physical injuries that result from violence or unnecessary force fall under the category of physical abuse. This may involve:
- Hitting, slapping, beating, or punching
- Pushing or shoving
- Improper use of physical restraints
Sexual abuse includes any non-consensual contact of a sexual nature, such as:
- Violent sexual assault
- Sexual harassment
- Unwanted touching
- Sexual acts with a nursing home resident who cannot give consent
- Forcing or coercing a resident to watch, discuss, or participate in sexual activity
One of the most prevalent forms of mistreatment is financial exploitation, the appropriation of an elder’s assets without their knowledge or consent. Financial exploitation may be seen when a caregiver:
- Steals valuables
- Forges signatures
- Uses credit cards or bank cards without the owner’s knowledge
- Manipulates a resident into changing a will or adding names to deeds
- Uses phony investment schemes or other scams to trick a resident out of funds
Verbal, Emotional, or Psychological Abuse
This broad category harms victims through non-physical means. The frequent lack of any readily observable signs makes it one of the most insidious types of nursing home abuse. Acute emotional issues and deteriorating physical health can result from:
- Social isolation
- Verbal attacks
- Lack of respect for a resident’s needs or wishes
- Humiliation and shaming
- Gaslighting and other forms of manipulation
- Withholding affection, communication, or rewards
- Threatening to keep residents from family members
What Is the Difference Between Abuse and Neglect in a Nursing Home?
Neglect is defined as a failure to provide helpful and immediate care that meets the needs of nursing home residents. Although neglect is less intentional than abuse, it can still cause the same level of harm.
It is usually considered nursing home neglect when a staff member does not provide the resident with:
- Clean water
- A consistent supply of food that meets dietary needs
- Seasonally-appropriate clothing
- Medical attention when needed
- Shelter and suitable room temperatures
- Social and emotional support
- Personal hygiene
Allowing a resident to fall into a state of self-neglect, abandonment of a resident, and failing to protect against elopement can also be considered forms of nursing home negligence.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
Abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation can all result in a range of medical conditions and emotional issues. Family members should be vigilant in watching for signs of mistreatment in an elderly loved one and their care facility.
Spending time with your family member is the best way to know if something is not right. Noticing subtle symptoms like weight loss or personality changes is difficult when you are not consistently present in the life of your loved one.
If someone close to you resides in a nursing home in Brownsville, TX, our attorneys recommend you stay alert for the following signs that can indicate abuse or neglect.
Signs of Abuse or Neglect in a Resident
- Unexplained injuries like bruises, cuts, and broken bones
- Bed sores
- Weight loss
- Poor personal hygiene
- Changes in demeanor
- Depression or anxiety
- Unresolved medical conditions
- Sudden changes in finances
- Missing valuables
- Unusual reactions to a certain staff member
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Red Flags in the Nursing Home Environment
- Dirty or cluttered premises
- Staff who are rude or noticeably unhappy
- Staff who do not know the names of residents
- Lack of bedrails or handrails, poor lighting, loose wiring, and other trip hazards
- Difficulty summoning a staff member for help
- Residents who are ungroomed or poorly dressed for the season
How Do I Know if a Brownsville Nursing Home Is Safe for Residents?
There are thousands of nursing homes in Texas. Choosing the right nursing home can be an overwhelming task.
The threat of nursing home abuse or neglect is not the only concern. You also need to find a community that feels like a second home to your loved one. A nursing home should offer not just the basic necessities but a caring environment that fosters a sense of belonging and acceptance in residents.
When visiting long-term care facilities, try to look for ones where you can see:
- A wide variety in meals and foods offered
- Happy and active residents
- Plenty of activities and social events
- Engaged, present, and qualified staff
- Comfortable, clean, well-lit facilities
- Adequate security measures
Another good resource for choosing a care facility is Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare tool. This allows you to review a facility’s ratings in the areas of:
- Overall performance
- Health inspections
- Quality measures
- COVID-19 vaccination rates
- Fire safety inspections and emergency preparedness
- Previous penalties
Although these ratings can be helpful in narrowing down your choices, this is no guarantee of a facility’s actual quality, safety, or suitability for your loved one. One bad actor at an otherwise good facility is enough to cause serious problems. It’s always best to visit and ask plenty of questions before committing to a particular home.
Rights of Texas Nursing Facility Residents
Residents in nursing facilities are afforded rights that allow them to make their own life choices. This ensures a high quality of life and dignity to live in peace in a place where they can receive the daily care they can’t provide themselves.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services outlines long-term care residents’ rights. Some of the essential rights afforded to Brownsville nursing home residents are the right to:
- Safe and clean conditions
- Dignity and respect
- Freedom from any kind of discrimination
- Personal choice in a health plan
- Choose your own physician
- Keep your own belongings
- Make your own financial choices
- Have visitors
- Privacy (including mail and phone calls)
- Choose activities, both inside and outside the facility
- Refuse care
The attorneys at Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm have a thorough understanding of the rights guaranteed to every Brownsville nursing home resident under Texas and federal law. If the legal rights of an elderly loved one were violated, an attorney from our office can help you hold the nursing home and their insurance company liable for elder mistreatment.
Our Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Will Handle Your Case With Care
Nursing home abuse is one of the most difficult things a family can face. When a nursing facility abuses your elderly loved one, you may feel completely helpless—unsure how you can ever help your loved one regain the health, confidence, and safety to live a meaningful life in their golden years.
Our Brownsville, TX nursing home abuse lawyers understand the extreme difficulty and sensitivity of any case of nursing home abuse or neglect. We are here to help you take legal action. But we know your case is much more personal than just the paperwork or insurance company negotiations. At Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm, we handle your case with care and compassion. It’s our goal to ensure your family feels supported every step of the way.
The outcome of a nursing home abuse or neglect case can change your loved one’s life. We are here to facilitate the best outcome possible. Reach out to our office today to schedule a free consultation.