We trust nursing homes to care for our parents and other relatives at a stage of their lives when they need it most. Tragically, some nursing home employees betray this trust by engaging in abuse – including sexual abuse – of these most vulnerable members of society. Sexual abuse is intolerable. If your loved one was subject to it, or you suspect it is ongoing, you need the aggressive nursing home injury attorneys of Hale & Monico.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse to Look Out For
The first step to stopping nursing home sexual abuse is to know what to look for. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, family members should keep an eye out for these and other signs:
- Bruises near the inner thighs, the genital area, or breasts
- Unexplained venereal disease or genital infections
- Unusual difficulty sitting or walking
- Torn, stained, or bloodied underclothing
- Withdrawal from social situations
- Extreme anxiety and panic attacks
- Suicide attempts
- Unusual behavior between the victim and the alleged perpetrator
If you suspect abuse of any kind has occurred, contact law enforcement immediately. Sexual abuse is criminal, and the responsible party will need to be stopped so that others won’t become victims. Next, reach out to the Illinois Nursing Home Hotline by dialing 800-252-4343. Their role is to investigate the abuse.
Finally, call an experienced nursing home sexual abuse attorney. Your attorney will review what you know about the abuse and advise as to what steps may be needed next. Your lawyer will also explain how, if possible, to preserve evidence. The sooner you take action, the better.
How can nursing home abuse be prevented?
Studies have shown that sexual abuse tends to occur in nursing facilities where residents have little or no contact with their loved ones. Isolation breeds abuse, because those with access to potential victims know there is little likelihood of it being discovered or reported. It pays to stay in touch with and visit your loved one often.
You should also regularly talk to nursing home staff and management about the facility and what is being done to protect residents. Are background checks conducted on new employees? Are the grounds of the nursing home properly secured? Ask questions, and make it clear you are staying informed and involved in your loved one’s stay at the facility.
Sexual abuse can happen at the hands of a staff member, a visitor, or another resident. Although not all abuse can absolutely be avoided, nursing homes are obligated to provide a reasonably safe environment and to take appropriate measures to prevent injury to the residents. When they don’t, and someone gets injured (including sexually abused), the nursing facility can be held liable.
How a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Can Help
An attorney will investigate the likely causes of the sexual abuse. Any number of missteps, oversights, or mistakes can mean that the facility and its owners can be held liable in civil court. For example, the nursing home may have failed to:
- Conduct proper background checks on staff members and nurses
- Take precautions with respect to other residents who had criminal histories or psychiatric disorders
- Monitor at-risk residents or dangerous residents who may attack others
- Restrict access to vulnerable residents
- Adopt security protocols for visitors and outside guests
If a nursing home resident has been abused, it may be due to negligence. Your lawyer will carefully examine the facts and evidence and advise as to whether the facility or owner may be held liable.
Ending nursing home sexual abuse, and holding accountable those who are responsible for it, starts with retaining a dedicated personal injury attorney. Call us at Hale & Monico to schedule your confidential consultation.