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Five indicators of neglect in care homes

View profile for Kim Daniells
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If you don’t know what you’re looking for it can be difficult to identify cases of neglect in care homes.

Below are five indicators that an elderly relative may be suffering from neglect. These indicators are by no means exhaustive, nor do they by themselves prove neglect. Always remember to use your best judgement and observe the situation as a whole before making rash decisions.

1) Bruising

Seeing bruises on an elderly relative may immediately raise alarm bells in your head, most people jump to the conclusion that the person in question is being subjected to physical attacks.

Bruising is more common among the elderly and it can often be caused by poor moving and carrying techniques by staff, it could also be that your relative was allowed to fall over due to poor supervision.

If you see any bruises you should immediately ask staff for an explanation, approach them in a calm manner and note down their response.

2) Weight loss

A decreased appetite is often a natural occurrence when growing older; this in itself could lead to a degree of weight loss. On the other hand it may be that residents are not receiving proper nutrition and hydration.

A common problem in care homes is elderly people who are incapable of feeding themselves being left with food on a tray and not given help from staff members. As a result food is taking away uneaten.

Cases of malnutrition and dehydration aren’t uncommon in care homes and should be reported immediately.

3) Failure to administer medication

In similar circumstances to food being left unattended, it’s not uncommon that medication can be left with a resident that is unable to administer it themselves. Any failure to give your relative their medication could have devastating consequences and you should demand this issue is addressed immediately.

4) Bed sores

Bed sores can be caused by prolonged pressure on a certain body area; they are more common in bony areas of the body such as the heel of the foot. Bed sores can be avoided in the vast majority of cases with simple, regular movement.

In many cases elderly people are allowed to lay in one position for considerable amounts of time, unable to move themselves. This is mainly due to staff inattentiveness and such basic failings in care should not be tolerated.

5) Changes in behaviour

If you notice that a loved one becomes quiet or nervous when a certain member of staff enters the room it would be wise for you to note down their name for future reference.

It isn’t uncommon for elderly residents, especially those suffering with dementia, to be nervous when anyone unfamiliar comes in the room but the fact that they are acting differently around a certain member of staff could be a warning sign that they are suffering neglect from the person in question.

What action to take if you suspect care home abuse

If you suspect that a relative, or indeed anyone is a victim of neglect in a care home then the first thing you must do is remain calm, we understand that the realisation that a person you care for may be suffering from neglect can be a very emotional experience.

It’s natural to feel upset and angry but it’s important not to get out of control and be abusive towards staff, if you make reckless choices because of your anger you can come to regret it later.

The first step should be to report any concerns you have to the care home manager.

If you would like advice, guidance or help in making a claim for the neglect of an elderly relative please phone us on 0845 601 4499.