When you put your loved one in a care facility, you hope and expect that they will be treated with proper care and respect. Unfortunately, maltreatment and abuse happens in nursing homes throughout Missouri.
If you believe your loved one was the victim of emotional or psychological abuse while under the care of nursing home staff, consider reaching out to a St. Louis mental nursing home abuse lawyer to discuss your legal options. A dedicated and compassionate attorney could investigate the circumstances of your claim and work tirelessly to determine negligence for a persuasive claim.
Defining Emotional and Mental Abuse in a Care Facility
Emotional or mental abuse in a nursing facility can happen in a variety of ways. For example, it may occur when an employee deprives a resident of food, water, or activities as a way to punish them. In other cases, an employee yelling at a resident may constitute emotional abuse—for instance, if a staff member shouts at a resident when they are frustrated for making a mess.
In other cases still, an employee may openly mock or make fun of certain residents because they cannot do something, or because they believe it is funny. Unfortunately, some employees are immature, mean, or even malicious.
No matter the circumstances, the biggest warning sign of somebody who is being abused mentally or emotionally that a family may look out for, is fear. For example, a resident may become afraid when the abuser walks into the room. If it is an employee, that resident will shut down and become withdrawn, refusing to engage in conversation. A detail-oriented lawyer could help a mentally-abused resident and their family to identify a negligent staff member and file a claim against them.
The Effects of Psychological Abuse on a Nursing Home Resident
Mental and emotional abuse can lead to severe and lasting harm. When a resident is at a nursing home, it is supposed to be a safe, comfortable, and pleasant environment. Therefore, when someone is fearful or concerned, it may destroy their entire sense of safety and calm within their living space. Furthermore, emotional abuse may lead to depression and other forms of emotional anguish, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma.
The Process of Filing a Claim in St. Louis
Bringing a claim against a nursing home for emotional abuse is often difficult because, often, the abuse is hard to prove. Unfortunately, records do not usually exist that show that an employee threatened or otherwise psychologically abused a resident.
However, there may be information in a disciplinary file—if, for example, somebody heard and reported an instance of emotional abuse. However, to bring a lawsuit forward solely on this basis is often difficult and, therefore, rare. Instead, the more common scenario would be to bring a lawsuit for physical or sexual assault. Even then, this will generally require physical evidence of the assault or an eyewitness who comes forward to testify.
A Care Facility’s Legal Duty
The ultimate responsibility of a nursing home is to meet the needs of the residents and, therefore, they have a duty to protect residents from any kind of abuse, violence, or other forms of mistreatment. If nursing home employees are aware of any kind of abuse—or if they even suspect a resident is being subjected to abuse—they should go through the process of removing the offending resident or employee from the situation. Generally, care facilities have a set policy and procedure that they follow to investigate these circumstances, determine whether it is a valid situation, and then how to proceed.
If it is determined that an employee engaged in mental or emotional abuse—orm even worse, physical or sexual abuse—then the employee should be fired. In Missouri, as well as throughout the nation, instances of severe abuse warrant calling the police. There is also an administrative process in Missouri wherein the employee can be put on a “do not hire” list, if they are administratively determined to have assaulted or abused a resident. Once an individual is placed on this list, they cannot be hired at any other nursing home throughout the state. Therefore, when a nursing facility hires somebody, one of the responsibilities that they have is to check to see if the person they are hiring is already on this list.
Furthermore, the nursing home’s response in keeping residents safe should not change whether the source of abuse is from a staff member or another resident. If the offender is a resident, the facility should make their physician aware of what has happened, pursue medical intervention for them, if necessary, and then follow its policies and procedures for what to do with a resident in that situation.
How a St. Louis Mental Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Might Help
If someone you love is mentally or emotionally abused in a nursing home, the first step that needs to be taken is to make sure the victim is now in a safe place. Afterward, it could be essential to reach out to a St. Louis mental nursing home abuse lawyer to discuss your legal options.
Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file a civil claim against the negligent staff member or violent resident to request compensation. To discuss your circumstances today, call a compassionate legal professional.