The decision to move your elderly parent or vulnerable loved one into a nursing home is never an easy one. You and your family must put a tremendous amount of trust into the hands of nursing home staff and administrators. Sadly, in far too many cases, these facilities do not live up to their obligation to provide safe, high-quality care.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) estimates that as many as ten percent of older Americans have endured some form of elder abuse or neglect. This raises an important question: How do you report suspected nursing home neglect in Virginia? Here, our Virginia Beach nursing home negligence attorney provides a basic guide how to report nursing home neglect in Virginia.
Reporting Nursing Home Neglect in Virginia: Know Your Options
You should be able to rely on nursing home professionals to protect the health and safety of your vulnerable loved one. As explained by the Virginia Board of Long-Term Care Administrators, Commonwealth law requires all licensed practitioners to report the suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of elderly or incapacitated adults. Unfortunately, many practitioners fail to report, and it almost always falls on the family to take action. If you believe that your vulnerable loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home, you need to report the problem. Here are your options to get the process started:
- Call 911 in an Emergency: First and foremost, you should always call 911 in an emergency situation. Absolutely nothing should come before your family member’s safety. Nursing home neglect is dangerous—it can put a vulnerable person at risk of serious injury, illness, or even worse.
- Tell an Independent Doctor: If you are not sure if neglect has occurred, but you have questions about the care your loved one is receiving, it is best to consult with an independent medical professional. A doctor not associated with the facility should evaluate your loved one.
- Use Virginia’s Adult Protective Services Hotline: Virginia has a dedicated hotline to report mistreatment of adults 60 and over. You can call 1‐888‐832‐3858 24/7. They will take your report and help you understand the next steps in the process.
- File a Complaint Online: Finally, you can also report nursing home neglect directly online. The Virginia Department of Health has a four page complaint form that you can submit via the internet, fax, or mail. Upon receipt, authorities may launch an investigation into the actions or inactions of the facility or its staff members.
Reporting nursing home neglect is just the first step in the broader legal process. While the Commonwealth of Virginia has valuable resources available for families, they will not be able to help you get financial compensation through a civil lawsuit.
To hold the negligent nursing home accountable, you need a top-rated Virginia nursing home negligence attorney. Your lawyer will review your case, investigate the suspected neglect, and take action to get justice and the financial support that you and your family need.
When to Report Neglect in a Nursing Home
Knowing when to report nursing home malpractice can be challenging, even when you know how to report nursing home neglect in Virginia. You want to protect your loved one, but you may be concerned about whether reporting is best in the circumstances.
Reporting Direct Threats to Health or Well-Being
You should report neglect in nursing homes when the neglect appears severe and unlikely to change. It is wise to report if:
- Your loved one’s life or well-being seems to be at risk;
- You have communicated your concerns to staff; and
- No or insufficient corrective measures are taken.
In these circumstances, reporting protects your loved one and everyone else in the facility’s care.
If you are concerned about retaliation, you may want to move your loved one somewhere else before filing or file anonymously. However, if you file anonymously, your loved one’s identity may still be discovered, and you will not be updated on any investigations. You may also have no options to relocate your loved one. If you file a report while your loved one is still living in the nursing home, explain your concerns about retaliation in the report.
Reporting Less Severe Neglect
It may be even less clear when you should report in less dire circumstances. The facility may promise to clean up its act, or it may still be better than your other options. As you decide whether to report, consider:
- What are the risks to my loved one’s health and well-being?
- How has the facility responded to my concerns?
- Has the facility made meaningful changes?
- What care alternatives are available?
Remember that a report is only a report. The state investigating does not mean the facility will be boarded up immediately and the residents cast out on the streets. An investigation may even transform a negligent nursing home into a safe one.
How Long Can I Wait to Report Nursing Home Neglect?
The sooner you report neglect, the better. As more time passes, it becomes harder to investigate and less likely reporting will change anything. Staff may leave, memories may fade, and injuries may heal.
You should also consider whether you want to sue the nursing home to hold it accountable for the harm it has done. In Virginia, nursing home malpractice claims must be filed within two years. There is a minor exception allowing a longer period for filing if the provider fraudulently concealed the neglect. An experienced nursing home negligence lawyer can advise you how a lawsuit can protect you, your loved one, and future nursing home residents.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Virginia Beach Nursing Home Neglect Attorney
At The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, P.L.L.C., our Virginia nursing home negligence attorney is a reliable and experienced advocate for clients and their families. If your loved one was neglected in a nursing home, we are here as a resource. For a free, no-risk consultation, please contact us today. With an office in Virginia Beach, we serve communities throughout the entire Hampton Roads region, including Chesapeake, Suffolk, Newport News, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Williamsburg.