Nursing home abuse can be dangerous for residents. Residents can sustain life-threatening injuries and infections. Many patients have health conditions that can quickly worsen when they are subjected to nursing home abuse.

The nursing home is often the last resort for many families. When they cannot take care of their loved one at home any longer, they search for a nursing home to provide compassionate and skilled care for their family member.

It can be shocking to discover that the people you trusted to care for your family member are causing your loved one harm and injuries. If you suspect that your loved one is in danger, there are several steps that you can take. 

How Can I Report Nursing Home Abuse in Kentucky?

If you suspect that a nursing home resident is in immediate danger of harm, call 911 to report the abuse. It is illegal to abuse a vulnerable adult in Kentucky. 

You can also report the nursing home to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The Division of Health Care licenses, inspects, certifies, and monitors all health care facilities defined in KRS 216B.015 (13), which includes nursing homes. The Division of Health Care also investigates complaints made against nursing homes. 

There are four regional branch offices for the Division of Health Care. You must file your nursing home complaint with the branch office that covers the county where the nursing home is located. If you have questions, you can call the division at (502) 564-7963.

You may also contact the Kentucky Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, which advocates for residents of nursing homes. Trained volunteers visit long-term care facilities to monitor conditions and voice concerns on behalf of residents. You can contact the Nursing Home Ombudsman agency by calling (877) 787-0077.

Families can also report neglect and abuse in nursing homes to the Kentucky Attorney General. You can call the Elder Abuse & Neglect Hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-877-228-7384. 

Who Can Help Me Protect My Family Member’s Legal Rights After Being Abused in a Nursing Home?

In addition to filing complaints with government agencies, you may also want to contact a nursing home abuse lawyer. A lawyer explains your loved one’s legal rights. The attorney can also give you additional information about the steps you can take to protect your loved one.

If your loved one was injured or harmed because of abuse or neglect, they might have a personal injury claim against the nursing home and other parties. A negligence claim could result in compensation for your loved one.

Money does not undo the harm caused by nursing home abuse. However, a monetary award can help you relocate your loved one. The monetary award can also send a sign to other nursing homes that elder abuse will not be tolerated in Kentucky. 

How Do I Know if My Loved One Is Being Abused in a Nursing Home?

The signs of nursing home abuse may not be easily recognized. Staff members may conceal signs of abuse or claim falls as the source of injuries. However, repeated falls can be a sign of abuse or neglect because it may indicate that the staff members are not following fall protection protocols.

Common signs of nursing home abuse include:

  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Bruising and lacerations
  • Signs of restraints (bruising around the ankles and wrists)
  • Repeated infections
  • Bedsores
  • Dehydration and malnutrition
  • Soiled clothing and beds
  • Poor personal hygiene 
  • A resident who is anxious, fearful of staff members, withdrawn, or depressed
  • Head injuries 
  • Reluctance to look at or speak to staff members
  • Sudden changes in behavior, such as fear of being touched, rocking, or crying consistently

There could be other signs of nursing home abuse that may be very subtle. If your loved one changes in any way, it is an indication that you need to investigate the situation. 

Medications or health conditions could cause the change. However, it could also be an indication of abuse at the nursing home. If you are unsure what to do, seek legal counsel. You can also request an independent medical and psychological examination. 

The key is to find out what happened to your loved one and stop it from happening again. However, your loved one may need immediate medical care, counseling, and therapy to address the harm caused by the abuse or neglect. Working with health care professionals you trust can be one of the best ways to overcome the effects of nursing home abuse.