While always a concern, nursing home abuse has more people worried these days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) has formally declared COVID-19, also known as the novel corona virus, a global pandemic. There is a legitimate fear of elder abuse for nursing home residents and others who have loved ones living in nursing homes during this time.
This fear becomes even stronger when we hear that the virus is more deadly for the elderly population. There seems to be less action taken to prevent the virus from spreading in nursing homes. To some people, the lives of elders tend to be undervalued. This is a serious problem that needs attention.
The COVID-19 Pandemic and Effect on Nursing Homes Throughout the Country
The pandemic itself is a substantial health issue. Special procedures must be implemented in order to ensure that the elderly population is protected from COVID-19.
The virus is attacking nursing homes in many different areas of the country. One such location, San Antonio, Texas, recently had a major outbreak of COVID-19 in a nursing home. This San Antonio nursing home has been cited for infection control problems.
Similar scenarios are popping up in cities and states all over the United States, including nursing homes in Chicago, Seattle, Georgia, New York, and California.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Nursing Home Guidelines
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) set forth guidelines for nursing homes to follow during the pandemic. These guidelines are meant to help protect the elderly population from contracting and spreading COVID-19.
The CMS guidelines include guidance for controlling and preventing the spread of COVID-19, along with other infectious diseases. These guidelines are to be implemented in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities.
One of the CMS guidelines is that visitors to nursing homes in some locations will be severely restricted. In some locations, visitors will not be allowed. Additionally, the health care workers who take care of the residents are under careful scrutiny. Nursing home employees will be monitored for any indications of the virus, including fevers, coughing, shortness of breath, and sore throat.
If a nursing home worker is showing signs of the virus, they should be sent home right away. They should also promptly receive a COVID-19 test. If a nursing home employee receives a positive test result, anyone they came in contact with should also get a test.
Meeting Nursing Home Patients’ Needs During the Pandemic
While it is important to follow the additional guidelines for nursing homes to help stop the spread of COVID-19, it is also essential to properly care for residents. Since visiting is restricted in many places and not allowed at all in others, it is important to help meet residents’ social needs in other ways.
For example, a nursing home can allow loved ones to visit virtually through video calls. A nursing home could also allow residents to have visitors through their windows. These methods, while not ideal, still allow for some face-to-face contact.
As a family member or friend of someone living in a nursing home, you can help them by staying in contact. With regular contact with your loved one, you can keep an eye on how things are going.
If they are not being cared for the way that they should be, you may be one of the first to notice. Then, you can help your loved one take action before any more harm can be done.
Increased Risk of Elder Abuse During the COVID-19 Pandemic
There have been some reports that elderly individuals have been suffering even more abuse than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instances of elder abuse being reported have increased during this difficult time.
Unfortunately, this increase is not shocking, since elder abuse occurs in the first place due to the vulnerability of the elderly population. Due to the isolation brought on by quarantining and other tactics used to slow the spread of the virus, this population has become even more vulnerable.
As a result of quarantine policies in many areas throughout the country, nursing homes have also become more isolated. Since elderly individuals tend to be more vulnerable to contracting the COVID-19 virus, many nursing homes have enacted strict visitation policies. Where visitors are permitted, masks, temperature checks, and other measures are implemented to help reduce infection.
Why Elder Abuse Has Become More Frequent Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic
While there are substantial benefits to these practices, unfortunately, it creates an environment of opportunity for perpetrators of elder abuse. Nursing home abuse tends to occur most often in situations involving isolation and reduced oversight.
The current lockdown rules due to COVID-19 can give abusers an opportunity to commit acts of abuse and prevent their victims from seeking help. Family and friends of nursing home residents play a crucial role in catching and reporting nursing home abuse and neglect. If the restrictions in place due to the pandemic keep people from their loved ones in nursing homes, this can just make matters worse.
How to Help an Elderly Loved One Who May Be a Victim of Nursing Home Abuse
If your loved one may be suffering from nursing home abuse during the pandemic, it is essential to act quickly. Keep yourself informed of the official visitation policies in place at your loved one’s nursing home. If you are not permitted to see your friend or family member despite a policy allowing you to do so, that may be a red flag.
A nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can help you and your loved one fight for compensation for injuries suffered due to nursing home abuse. If you have concerns that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, the attorneys at The Peck Law Group are here to help.
We aggressively fight for the rights of our clients, and we demand justice for nursing home abuse victims. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation to discuss your potential nursing home abuse case with one of our lawyers.
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.