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Personal Injury Law Blog

Are South Carolina nursing homes safe?

It can bring a simultaneous sense of relief and worry to you when you help your aging loved one transition to fully assisted living care. On one hand, you might take comfort in knowing that your parent will no longer be alone each day and will have a support system around the clock to provide for his or her needs. On the other hand, knowing that you won’t be in a nursing home with your loved one 24/7 might make you a bit anxious and worried for his or her well-being.

You’ll no doubt visit numerous nursing homes before choosing the one that best fits your parent’s or grandparent’s health needs, financial status and lifestyle, such as whether he or she is independently mobile and still somewhat active. Sadly, even after thinking they had chosen a good fit, many people discover that their loved ones have suffered injury or illness because of nursing home neglect. To be able to quickly recognize a problem, there are several things to keep in mind.

There should never be unexplained injuries

Accidents sometimes happen in nursing homes, which doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is neglecting or abusing your loved one. However, if your parent or grandparent suffers an injury, nursing home staff should provide an explanation as to how and why it happened. For instance, if you notice a bruise, abrasion or swelling on the patient’s body, there should be a logical explanation as to how the injury occurred.

Nursing home staff behavior should demonstrate quality care

Some nursing home care providers are better at their job than others — that’s a fact. When it comes to adhering to state laws and accepted safety standards, however, every person who takes care of your loved one should exemplify a disposition that is kind and attentive. If you witness someone acting in a threatening, controlling or domineering way toward your family member, it’s definitely a red flag that something could be wrong or that your loved one is experiencing neglect or abuse.

This is particularly true if your loved one seems agitated or appears to be afraid when a specific worker is nearby. The interaction between nursing home patients and nursing staff should never suggest that the patient fears the worker.

If your loved one is immobile or requires ’round-the-clock supervision

If your family member’s medical records state that he or she is immobile, you’ll want to make sure that care providers are adhering to protocol to help him or her change positions and move his or her body on a regular basis. Severe bed sores can occur if staff do not move an immobile patient around enough. While bed sores might not seem to be that big of a deal to you at first, you’ll want to know that many patients who develop them contract serious infections that can be life-threatening.

Observe the appearance of your loved one and the state of his or her room

If you visit your loved one and malodors hit you when you walk into the room, you’ll want to investigate further to find the source of the foul aroma. Are soiled bed sheets or unclean bed clothes causing the odor? Does your loved one appear clean and well cared for when you arrive for visits? If his or her appearance is dirty or unkempt, it could be a sign of nursing home negligence.

The room should also be neat and tidy at all times. Clutter or debris can pose a serious safety hazard, especially if things are lying about on the floor. Have the trash cans been emptied regularly and soiled linens removed from the room? Is the bathroom clean?

What to do if you notice signs of neglect or abuse

It’s upsetting to think of someone neglecting or abusing your loved one in a South Carolina nursing home. Such incidents are inexcusable and should never happen. The sooner you inquire about an issue that has raised your concern, the better able you might be to keep your loved one safe. If you’re not satisfied with the answers or explanations you receive, you can further investigate the situation, even by enlisting patient advocate assistance, law enforcement or legal support, if needed.