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What Constitutes Caregiver Abandonment in a Nursing Home?

Elder abuse comes in many forms, but no matter why or how it is happening, it is never acceptable. Nursing home residents have the right to adequate care that promotes quality of life and ensures they are respected. Unfortunately, many nursing homes do not strictly follow the guidelines laid out by the Nursing Home Reform Law, which leads to various kinds of resident abuse.

elder abuse

One such form of abuse is caregiver abandonment, which is a form of neglect that can result in your loved one not having their needs met. If you suspect your loved one is the victim of caregiver abandonment in their nursing home, report the issue immediately and seek help from a nursing home abuse lawyer. 

At Crossen Law Firm, our Indianapolis nursing home abuse lawyers are dedicated to protecting the rights of nursing home residents and their families. We have over 20 years of experience handling cases involving nursing home abuse and can help you win a settlement and ensure the correct parties are held accountable for their negligent actions. 

What is Caregiver Abandonment?

Caregiver abandonment is a form of neglect that occurs when a hired caregiver does not adequately perform their duties by leaving the patient alone to fend for themselves for extended periods. This can occur with caregivers who provide in-home care as well as in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 

In addition to leaving patients or residents unattended for long periods, caregiver abandonment can also include leaving the resident stranded somewhere. Abandonment is also sometimes used in nursing home settings to describe when a resident is simply not receiving adequate care and attention. 

What Are Some Examples of Caregiver Abandonment in Nursing Homes?

Residents can be abandoned or neglected in many different ways when living in a nursing home or assisted care facility. Some of the most common forms of caregiver abandonment include:

  • Leaving a resident unattended without ensuring another staff member is present to take over
  • Taking responsibility for the care of a resident and then leaving without actually providing the resident with the care and attention needed
  • Nursing homes that are understaffed and failing to ensure there are enough staff on duty to look after the residents
  • Caregivers failing to check in regularly on residents
  • Failing to provide residents with food, water, and medications on time or according to the resident’s schedule
  • Purposely leaving a resident unattended and isolated as a form of punishment or emotional abuse
  • Ignoring a resident when they call for assistance or taking too long to respond to a resident’s call for help
  • Leaving residents in their soiled bed linens or clothes for days at a time without bathing them or providing them with fresh linens
  • Removing a resident from the nursing home property and abandoning them somewhere without informing family members

It’s important to note that even if a resident is unintentionally left unattended, maybe because a caregiver simply forgot to check in on them, this is still considered a form of abusive neglect. So even if a staff member or the nursing home management seems to have a valid excuse for leaving your loved one unattended, you still have the right to file a report and may be able to hold them accountable in civil court. There is no excuse for elder abuse, even if it was unintentional. 

Signs of Elderly Abandonment

You must learn to recognize the signs that could indicate your loved one is the victim of caregiver abandonment so you can get them help as soon as possible. If a resident is continually abandoned and neglected, it can have serious consequences, such as severe health issues and even psychological damage. 

Some of the most common signs that an elderly individual is experiencing abandonment include:

  • Bedsores
  • A messy appearance
  • Dirty clothes and bed linens
  • Weight loss, which could be related to malnutrition 
  • Health conditions worsening without explanation
  • Sadness, depression, or withdrawn behavior
  • Confusion or agitation
  • Fear or wanting to leave the nursing home
  • UTIs or infrequent urination due to a lack of hydration

What to Do if You Suspect Nursing Home Abandonment

If you suspect your loved one might be the victim of abandonment or neglect, the first thing you should do is speak to the nursing home administration. You can raise your concerns with them and ask questions to determine if your loved one is being adequately cared for, such as:

  • How many times per day do staff members check on your loved one?
  • How often are they given food and water?
  • How many staff members are on duty at any given time?
  • Is the nursing home experiencing a staff shortage?
  • When did your loved one last receive a bath?
  • How often are clothes and bed linens changed? 
  • How is your loved one being cared for to prevent bed sores from forming?

These are just a few questions to give you an idea of what to ask. However, even if management seems to have all the right answers, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your loved one is getting the care they need. If you still suspect that neglect and abandonment are happening, you should report the issue to the local authorities so they can start an investigation. 

You can also report the issue to your local Ombudsman program, which will assign someone to your case to also help investigate the complaint you have made. You can even file a report with Indiana Adult Protective Services if you feel it is necessary.

Beyond these steps, it may also be beneficial to contact a nursing home abuse lawyer. The nursing home may try hard to deny your accusations, even if abuse and abandonment were occurring. A lawyer can help you gather evidence to ensure the nursing home or neglectful staff member is held accountable. They can also help you recover financial compensation for any damages suffered as a result of the abandonment. 

Consult an Indianapolis Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

If you suspect your loved one is the victim of caregiver abandonment in their nursing home, we are here to help. At Crossen Law Firm, we have over 20 years of experience fighting for victims of abuse and neglect, including those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. We will protect your rights, ensure the appropriate parties are held liable, and help you recover a fair settlement. 

Contact us today or give us a call for a free consultation at (317) 401-8626.