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How To Report Nursing Home Abuse in South Carolina

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Out of South Carolina’s population, 19.1% are aged 65 or older, which is more than 1.28 million residents.

Unfortunately, most of the 190 nursing homes in the state are behind on their inspections, and the state’s nursing home services rank 24 for quality by America’s Health Rankings. Unfortunately, this can lead to significant abuse.

At The Louthian Law Firm, we can help you with your case and how to report nursing home abuse.

Rights of Residents in Nursing Home Facilities

While 11.9% of these individuals live alone, 15,823 live in certified nursing homes. Before you pursue a nursing home abuse case, learn about the rights residents have when they live in nursing homes. These rights include:

  • Privacy in medical and legal appointments and with their visitors
  • Self-determination
  • Information about their care and the facility
  • Reporting complaints without retaliation
  • Live free of any abuse, discrimination, neglect, restraints and financial exploitation

Caregivers should treat residents respectfully and allow them to participate in nursing home activities. Homes cannot unfairly transfer or discharge residents or deny access to social services.

What Qualifies as Nursing Home Abuse

As of 2022, the World Health Organization found that more than 16% of individuals over 60 years of age who live in community settings experienced abuse. As you learn how to report nursing home abuse, you should understand what qualifies as abuse.

You likely think of physical injuries when you think of abuse. However, sexual, mental and emotional abuse also occur. Sexual abuse involves any forced or non-consensual sexual act against a resident. Mental and emotional abuse includes threatening, cursing at, intentionally insulting, or speaking harshly to residents.

Neglectful actions are as follows:

  • Denying medical, dental, physical therapy, wound or eye care
  • Failure to help with bathroom and bathing needs
  • Ignoring bedfast individuals
  • Not allowing residents to participate in activities
  • Ignoring resident requests, such as medical assistance or turning off lights

Finally, residents and their families should have complete control over their finances. If the facility denies them control, takes control from them, or steals money from them, they have committed abuse.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

When you visit your loved one, listen to their complaints. Also, observe how they interact with various staff members, particularly if they show fear or wariness. Then consider the following:

  • Any type of physical injury, from bruising and cuts to broken bones and head injuries
  • Unexplained falls
  • Unexplained STDs and weight loss
  • Dehydration or malnutrition
  • Infections and sepsis

Make sure you and anyone else visiting your loved one knows how to recognize these signs and how to report nursing home abuse.

Where To Report Nursing Home Abuse in South Carolina

When you recognize that abuse may have occurred, report your findings to the facility administrator. Find out the facility’s investigation process, including whether the administrator will remove the offending staff member and if they will search for other residents who have had issues with this caregiver.

Then, contact local law enforcement. Provide each agency with all the details you know so they can conduct an exhaustive investigation.

Agencies to Which You Should Report Nursing Home Abuse

There are several agencies you should contact when you report nursing home abuse in South Carolina, including:

  • Adult Protective Services
  • The long-term care Ombudsman at the South Carolina Department on Aging
  • The Vulnerable Adults Investigation unit of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division
  • South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Health Facilities Licensing Bureau
  • DHEC Health Facilities Licensing Bureau

For how to report nursing home abuse on the national level, contact the National Adult Protective Services Association and the National Center on Elder Abuse. Investigate how to report nursing home abuse with each of these agencies.

Steps To Take After Reporting Abuse

After you report nursing home abuse, you need to take steps to protect your loved one. First, move your loved one out of their current nursing home. Then, write down the needs and wants of your loved one while you research local facilities:

  • State licensing, Medicare and Medicaid certification and facility insurance
  • Safety, abuse, accident and inspection history
  • Number of residents per caregiver and the turnover rate
  • Caregiver training, policies and procedures
  • Insurance acceptance

Visit facilities and conduct thorough inspections in person. Look for dangers and maintenance issues that could cause falls or other injuries. Ask about facility activities and safe outdoor spaces.

Have in-depth conversations with the home manager and staff. Consider the staff’s dress, cleanliness and interactions with residents. Speak with several residents about their experiences with the staff and facilities.

Find out how often the residents see a doctor and the process for making medical appointments outside the facility.

Get an accounting of all the costs you may face. Choose a facility close to your home or another family member’s home so you or another loved one can visit often.

How Can an Attorney Help With Nursing Home Abuse?

If a loved one is experiencing nursing home abuse, our attorneys at The Louthian Law Firm can help. You don’t have to do this alone; we can inform you how to report nursing home abuse and walk you through the process.

Contact us today to protect your loved one.

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