According to a recent study, South Carolina ranks 51st among the states and Washington D.C. when it comes to protections for senior citizens living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Among the 14 key indicators examined in the study, South Carolina tied for the worst-ranked with regard to both the number of elder abuse complaints and the amount of state spending on elder abuse prevention. Elder abuse in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities is a serious issue. Nationally, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reports that one in 10 seniors will experience some form of abuse during his or her lifetime. For those who become victims, seeking professional help is the first step on the road to recovery.
What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse in South Carolina?
What does it mean to be a victim of nursing home abuse? Elder abuse can take many different forms; and, while many cases of abuse will be obvious, it is not always easy to know if mistreatment or inadequate care rises to the level of abuse. Many of our clients come to us with questions about their circumstances, often after being provided with inaccurate information by their care providers. But, the simple fact is this: If you have any concerns about your or a loved one’s care in a nursing home, you owe it to yourself to speak with a professional. Seek medical treatment promptly, and speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Common forms of nursing home abuse include:
- Physical Abuse – Physical abuse includes harmful physical contact (pushing, shoving, or hitting), improper use of restraints, confinement due to immobility, improper administration of medications, and all other forms of physical harm. As a nursing home resident, you simply should not suffer physical harm due to the action or inaction of your care providers.
- Sexual Abuse – Sexual abuse includes nonconsensual touching or intercourse, forced nudity, exposure to nudity or sexually-explicit imagery, and all other forms of unwanted sexual contact or interaction.
- Psychological Abuse – Psychological abuse includes yelling, harassment, humiliation, isolation, deprivation of access to basic needs, deprivation of access to friends or family, and any other communication or conduct resulting in emotional harm.
- Neglect or Abandonment – Failing to tend to a resident’s needs (including access to medications, nutrition, hydration, or bathroom facilities), failing to provide necessary care (resulting in bedsores, infections, or other injuries or illnesses), and failing to provide adequate supervision (resulting in falls or elopement) are all forms of inadequate and abusive care as well.
- Financial Abuse – Financial abuse includes stealing cash or credit cards, forging checks or forcing residents to sign checks, improperly accessing residents’ financial accounts, and using undue influence to force residents to buy gifts or modify their estate plans.
Under South Carolina law, nursing home residents have the absolute right to participate in their own care and see doctors of their own choosing. If you are not sure where to go for help, or if someone who works for your nursing home is trying to prevent you from seeing a doctor, we can help you obtain professional medical treatment immediately.
What Can I Do if I (or an Aging Loved One) Need Protection from Abuse?
If you have been abused in a South Carolina nursing home, or if you are concerned that an aging loved one may be experiencing abuse from caretakers, nursing home staff, or other residents, there are some steps you can take immediately to secure protection. These include:
1. Seek Medical Attention Immediately.
First, and most importantly, you need to seek medical attention. Regardless of any other concerns you may have, if you or your loved one needs treatment, your first priority should be to see a doctor as soon as possible.
2. Don’t Let Nursing Home Staff or Administrators Tell You “No.”
If you are seeking access to treatment, or if you are trying to gain access to a family member, do not let nursing home staff or administrators tell you, “No.” If you face resistance, seek legal help immediately.
3. Document Everything You Can.
When did the incident (or incidents) occur? Who was involved? Did anyone else witness what happened? Are your prescription bottles too full or too empty? Are there records of unauthorized transactions on your bank account statements? If it is safe and you are capable of doing so, try to write down as many details as you can remember and collect any documentation that is available.
4. Take Reasonable Measures to Secure Your (or Your Loved One’s) Safety.
If your medications are being stolen or administered improperly, try to move them to a safe place. If someone has gained access to your financial accounts, call your bank and ask for a freeze to be placed on your account. You are well within your rights to take any reasonable measures that you believe are necessary to protect yourself; and, if you are in fear for your or a loved one’s safety, you can – and should – call 911.
5. Speak with a Local Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer.
Nursing home residents have clear rights under South Carolina law. In addition to immediate access to medical treatment, residents who have been abused are entitled to financial compensation for their medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses, and they cannot be forced to remain in an abusive living environment. A lawyer who is experienced in handling nursing home abuse claims will be able to help you assert these rights effectively and help ensure that you (or your loved one) have every opportunity to fully recover.
Speak with a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Rock Hill, SC
If you would like to speak with a nursing home abuse lawyer, we urge you to contact us promptly for a free, no-obligation consultation. To discuss your situation in complete confidence, please call 803-327-1103 or tell us how to reach you online now.