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Currently, in Canada (excluding Quebec) around 310,000 people are living in a facility that provides health care. Of those, 143,000 are living in nursing homes.

Naturally, many of those people are in a vulnerable state. Their health issues and frailty mean that they are often quite dependent on other people. They rely heavily on the nursing home staff to take care of their daily physical and, to some extent, emotional needs.

Nursing homes have a duty to provide sufficient care and protection for those living there. Most do a good job of doing so. But unfortunately, some nursing homes do not fully fulfil their duty of care. Some fall short in small ways, every now and again.

Sadly, a few provide a woefully inadequate level of care. To the extent that they are negligent. Leaving their vulnerable residents open to abuse, at great risk of having accidents of becoming far sicker than they already are.

Those who are victims of nursing home negligence in Alberta have a right to compensation. To be able to secure it, they need access to the expertise of a nursing home negligence lawyer.

Understanding Nursing Home Negligence

Components of Nursing Home Negligence:

These cases can be incredibly complex, which is why you need a lawyer who has the expertise to know which kind of case to bring. The two main types are:

Negligence

This is when the nursing home proprietor and staff fail to perform their duty of providing care and protection for the elderly, and other adults, that live within their facility.

Abuse

When there is a clear and specific intent to harm or increase the risk of harm to nursing home residents, this is categorized as an abuse case. The following situations all fall into this category:

Physical abuse:

  • Physical violence of any kind including shoving, tripping or hitting
  • Unnecessary or improper use of restraints
  • Causing unnecessary discomfort

Psychological abuse:

  • Threats
  • Manipulation
  • Verbal abuse
  • Demeaning the person
  • Continually ignoring them
  • Shouting or swearing at them
  • Stopping them having visitors or contact with others
  • Unnecessarily stopping them from having access to items that bring them comfort
  • Not respecting a resident’s right to privacy

Sexual abuse

  • Rape
  • Inappropriate touching of a sexual nature

Financial abuse:

  • Extortion
  • Blackmail
  • Unauthorized use of money or property
  • Stealing of money, assets, or possessions

Why Nursing Home Negligence Happens

The above is an alarming list. One that surprises most people and leaves them asking how on earth this kind of abuse can take place in a nursing home. They also cannot understand why it is not reported by those suffering this treatment. The reasons behind this are complex. The elderly often do not report negligence or abuse because of the following:

  • They fear that the abuse will get worse, after all, they are reporting people with whom they have daily contact
  • They fear a backlash from other members of staff on whom they are 100% dependant
  • They feel ashamed about what is happening to them
  • They feel guilty, sometimes they end up believing that they somehow deserve to be treated in this way
  • They are physically unable to report the abuse because they cannot speak
  • They do not have access to someone that they feel safe reporting the abuse to
  • There are cases wherein the elderly person is not capable of reporting the abuse because they cannot talk or have no contact with people who could help
  • Sometimes they simply are not aware that what is happening to them is negligence or abuse
  • They are not conscious, or their mental capacity is so badly impaired that they are not aware that the abuse is taking place
  • They fear a backlash from other residents who may like the person they are accusing of abuse
  • They do not want friends and family to know what is happening to them
  • They fear being moved to a new home that is too far for their visitors to travel to

Common Injuries Caused by Nursing Home Negligence

We have already spoken extensively about abuse and the injuries and suffering a nursing home resident can experience. Now we are going to take a closer look at negligence, which is causing pain, suffering, anguish, or injuries by failing to take care of someone properly.

Unfortunately, nursing home negligence claims are made, every year, for the following reasons:

INSERT

  • Injuries sustained from sleeping on an inadequate mattress of sitting in an uncomfortable chair all day long
  • Bedsores
  • Death due to neglect
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Failure to diagnose illnesses a timely manner
  • Allowing physical and verbal abuse, including from other residents
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Deep tissue injuries

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Often, it takes another resident, an uninvolved member of staff, a medical professional, or a visitor to spot that there is a problem then report it. These are the signs to look out for:

Sudden changes in a resident’s disposition including the following:

  • Depression
  • Aloofness
  • Withdrawal

Physical warning signs that include:

  • Weight loss
  • Sudden changes in complexion
  • Unexplained wounds and bruises
  • Cuts
  • Welts
  • Missing nails

Other less obvious signs to look out for:

  • Signs of restraints having been used
  • Torn clothes
  • Being dressed in clothes that are not theirs
  • Broken furniture or broken things
  • Dirty linen
  • Favourite items like bedding no longer being used
  • Signs of poor personal hygiene
  • A strong smell of urine or feces
  • Pests in the resident’s room such as roaches, lice, or fleas
  • An unkempt or dirty bedroom

Unfortunately, you need to always be on the lookout for signs of negligence or abuse. This is because a nursing home is an ever-changing environment. The turnover of staff and residents means barely a week goes by without someone new potentially having contact with your loved one. Add in the numerous visitors, service personnel, medical staff and others and you have a regular flow of people, each of whom could potentially be abusive or just dangerously inconsiderate.

You also need to be aware of the fact the way the nursing home works will be changing regularly. Your loved one’s special dietary needs may be well catered for when they first move in. Only for that to change when a new owner decides to cut costs by serving everyone the same food. Or, starts to cut costs to the point where the staff are no longer able to physically do the job to a high standard. 

Protect yourself or your loved one against nursing home negligence. Know your rights by consulting with an Alberta personal injury lawyer from Diamond & Diamond.

Talk to an Alberta Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer from Diamond & Diamond Today

Diamond & Diamond lawyers have extensive experience in personal injury claims including nursing home negligence cases. If you have a case that you want us to handle, please do one of the following:

Visit any of our offices in Alberta anything you tell us will be dealt with sensitively

Reach us through our 1-800 number, 24/7

Get a free consultation, by using our online contact form 

PRO TIP : 

“If you suspect nursing home negligence is taking place, call the local police immediately, or dial 911 if it’s an emergency.”

FAQs on Nursing Home Negligence in Alberta

I think my friend in a nursing home is being abused, but his family is not doing anything. Can I sue on his behalf?

You cannot sue on their behalf. Only their next of kin or someone who has power of attorney can do that. You can, however, report your suspicions to the authorities.

Unless it is an emergency, before doing so take the time to consider the negative as well as the positive impact this could have. Then take as many steps as possible to mitigate any problems you foresee.

The nursing home claims that restraints are necessary. Are they right?

The nursing home may be right that the use of restraints was necessary. But they should be able to adequately explain why this was the case. That applies to the use of physical, chemical, and environmental forms of restraint.

In Canada, they can only be applied in an emergency. That means when there is an imminent danger that the resident will hurt themselves or others around them. They can never be used as a form of punishment or for the convenience of the staff or other residents.

Are bed sores preventable?

Bed sores are highly preventable. Regular turning still works well. But even more effective are devices like ripple mattresses and seating cushions. They are always moving and, which enables the resident to sit or lie as they want. Early diagnosis and the right treatment will stop small sores from developing into full-blown bed sores.

What constitutes neglect in a nursing home?

Neglect happens when a person in a nursing home does not get the proper level of care he or she needs. Proper level of care may vary depending on each case, but it typically involves basic hygiene, assistance in moving within the nursing home, and help when eating, bathing, and other daily routines.

How do I report neglect in a nursing home in Alberta?

If you or somebody you know is being neglected in a nursing home, call 911 immediately. You can also file an official complaint with Alberta Health Services. Make sure to include the name, address, and municipality of the nursing home. You can also include details about the abuse taking place.

How long does a nursing home lawsuit take in Alberta?

It usually varies depending on each case. But nursing home lawsuits can take somewhere between one to two years to be resolved. For some cases that need a more thorough investigation, the lawsuit could extend for a longer time. It’s always important to consult with a personal injury lawyer to ensure that your case will not be delayed too long.