The elderly are among the most vulnerable members of society. As such, Texas laws are structured to provide them with as much protection as possible, especially when they are in the care of an assisted living facility.
However, the law can only help if a report has been made to a local law enforcement agency or other government authority. This will allow an investigation to be conducted, which may end up giving justice to the elderly person.
In Texas, if a family member suspects that their loved one is being or has been abused, neglected, or exploited in nursing homes, they can hire a nursing home abuse attorney to discuss their options for legal recourse.
Additionally, in some cases, a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit can be launched against the assisted living facilities. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is available for a free consultation at its law firm in Dallas, Texas. They can help answer questions like What is the statute of limitations for nursing home abuse in Texas?
What Is Elder Abuse?
Before they contact Adult Protective Services, the whistle-blowers need to be sure that what they are witnessing constitutes elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation under Texas law.
Such abuse usually occurs in a nursing home, health care facility, or other types of long-term care facilities.
These places have a responsibility to care for the elderly people in their facilities, which usually entails the following:
Providing access to medical care and grooming
Maintaining a high standard of care and a safe environment free of hazards
Providing a comprehensive care plan to meet the needs of each elderly person in their care
Having a caregiver supervise the patients
Ensure the patients are receiving the correct medication
If these basic protocols are not being followed by the nursing home, it may be grounds for a negligence claim. Elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation can occur in many different forms, such as:
Emotional or psychological abuse
Allowing self-neglect of the elderly person
How to Spot Nursing Home Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation
At times, it can be very difficult to spot elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation because of the efforts the abusers make to hide their actions.
In the case of nursing home abuse, the facility may appear to be caring and professional when family members visit while abusing its residents behind closed doors.
Therefore, it is important that anyone who suspects that the elderly are being abused not keep silent. The law requires anyone aware of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of the elderly to report it. This includes family members, nursing home employees, and other residents of the long-term care facility.
There are a few signs of possible elder abuse and neglect that can be quickly spotted, such as:
Unsanitary living conditions
Lack of proper supervision
Marks, bruises, or injuries on the victim
A complaint by the victim or other nursing home resident
Lack of necessary services, such as healthcare
What Is Required in a Report of Suspected Elder Abuse?
To report elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation there is some information that will be required by the relevant authorities.
The report can be made orally or in writing, and the reporter can choose to remain anonymous. However, the most important thing is that the report must include:
Name, age, and address of the suspected elderly victim
The elderly victim’s condition and nature
Details whoever is responsible for caring for the victim
Whether the victim is in immediate danger
How the reporter suspects or knows about the exploitation, abuse, or neglect
Any other relevant information
Who Do You Report Nursing Home Abuse to in Texas?
It is the duty of everyone to help protect the elderly, disabled, and other vulnerable members of society.
If elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation is suspected, it is important to take action immediately. To report suspected abuse or neglect in nursing homes, concerned citizens can take the following steps:
Step 1 - Gather Evidence
The Texas Health and Human Services Department requires all the help it can get to bring negligent nursing homes to justice. Therefore, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible when reporting nursing home abuse, such as:
Photos of the injuries
Reports from eyewitnesses
Dates and shifts when the abuse happened
However, even without this evidence, concerned people can still report elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation based on a gut feeling, especially if they feel the victim may be in immediate danger. The authorities will still act on the tip-off and launch an investigation.
Step 2 - Report Suspected Abuse or Neglect
If the situation is very serious, it is best to call the police by dialing 911 or using the Texas abuse hotline ((800) 252-5400).
Depending on the nature of the abuse, the report can also be made to the Texas Department on Aging and Disabilities (DAD) or the Texas Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
If the reporter makes an anonymous call to the Texas abuse hotline, they will not be able to receive the results of the subsequent investigation.
Step 3 - Investigation by Adult Protective Services
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services will launch an investigation into the suspicions of nursing home abuse or neglect. Usually, the nursing home's administrators will be contacted within two hours of the report being made if the case is a serious one.
If the nursing home abuse or neglect is confirmed by investigators who visit the long-term care facility, the matter will be handed over to the Attorney General's office.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?
As the investigation unfolds, family members of the abused victim can consider filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault nursing home or other facility. Most reputable law firms will offer a free consultation to discuss what can be done to compensate the victim for the abuse or neglect they suffered. They can assist with answering questions like How do you prove nursing home abuse in Texas?
In some cases, the abuse can be so bad that medical treatment will be needed. Other victims may even lose their lives after being mistreated by nursing home staff.
Who will pay for the medical bills and funeral expenses in such cases? What about the emotional anguish of the remaining family members after losing their loved ones?
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys will go to war for the rights of abused elderly victims and their family members. A free consultation can be scheduled by calling and asking for a personal injury attorney.