Nursing home residents depend on their caregivers to help them with daily tasks that we often take for granted. Unfortunately, this makes those residents highly susceptible to abuse and neglect. Those residents suffering from dementia or disabilities are considered the highest at-risk.
In an effort to stop the abuse, Arizona has worked to put laws into place to help protect the health, safety, and rights of all nursing home residents.
One of the rights ensured to nursing home residents is the right to dignity, respect, and freedom. Specifically, residents have the right to be treated with consideration, and the right to be free from abuse, both mental and physical, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion, and physical and chemical restraints.
Unfortunately, thousands of complaints alleging elder abuse or neglect are reported each year in Arizona. According to the Adult Protective Services Annual Report for 2017, there were 2,067 complaints of abuse reported against paid caregivers/residential management. This made up 28% of the total complaints.
If you or a loved one is a resident of a nursing home, you should understand how to report any neglect or abuse if it were to occur.
Signs of Abuse
If your loved one presents any of the following warning signs of abuse, you should immediately contact one of the agencies discussed below. Many victims of neglect or abuse fail to report, out of fear of retaliation or embarrassment. Therefore, it is important that relatives and loved ones know the signs.
- Infected bedsores;
- Unexplained broken bones or sprains;
- Medication errors
- Unexplained cuts, burns, or abrasions;
- Unexplained or untimely death.
- Malnutrition and/or lack of food;
- Dehydration and/or lack of water;
- Unsanitary conditions;
- Poor Hygiene.
- Frequent crying;
- Complaints of poor treatment.
There have been more reported incidents against female residents. However, this statistic may directly correlate with women having a longer lifespan than men.
Even though disabled adults over the age of 18 can live in assisted living or nursing home facilities, most reported abuse involves victims over the age of 60.
Who is Required to Report?
Under Arizona law, certain professionals are legally required to report nursing home abuse or neglect. Specifically, the following professionals are legally required to report any suspected abuse:
- Nurse practitioners;
- Social Workers;
- Peace Officers; and
- Persons responsible for the care of a vulnerable adult.
Where to Report Suspected Abuse
In Arizona, suspected nursing home abuse can be reported to the following agencies:
Local Law Enforcement
If you believe that a resident is being abused or neglected, you should contact a local law enforcement agency immediately. The claim will then be investigated and/or further reported to additional, appropriate agencies.
Adult Protective Services
One of the main functions of this agency is to investigate reports of abuse and neglect committed against vulnerable adults. This agency will typically be included in investigations reported to other agencies.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman
Working through the Area Agency on Aging, an ombudsman is an advocate for nursing home residents, and their rights and quality of care. They regularly visit nursing homes to investigate complaints and allegations filed by residents and/or their loved ones, as well as staff members and other agencies.
Bureau of Long-Term Care Licensing
Located within the Arizona Department of Health Services, this Bureau works to protect nursing home residents by investigating complaints of abuse that may affect the health and safety of the residents.
The bureau is a team of registered nurses, as well as others in the healthcare field, who conduct the annual state licensure and Medicare certification, and re-certification inspections to ensure compliance with all applicable rules and regulations.
The inspections include:
- Quality of life;
- Rights of residents;
- Quality of care;
- Facility practices;
- Nursing home administration; and
- Physical environment.
Arizona Attorney General
The Arizona Attorney General’s office has put together the Taskforce Against Senior Abuse (“TASA”), which investigates elder abuse (physical, financial, and emotional). The task force is broken down into three groups: Criminal Fraud Section; Consumer Protection and Advocacy Section; and Health Care Fraud and Abuse Section, which focuses on abuse of nursing home residents, as well as falsification of Medicaid records and billing.
Additionally, there are numerous national and local task forces and bureaus that will individually investigate or assist in state-run investigations of nursing home abuse.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of nursing home abuse, contact the Yearin Law Office. Our dedicated staff will work with you to determine if you are entitled to compensation. By pursuing legal action against the abuser, you can help prevent the same abuse happening to another family. Call (480) 502-0708 today for a free consultation!
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