What is the Difference Between Nursing Home Neglect and Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home neglect

Mistreatment of an older adult in a nursing home can take many forms, but often falls under one of two headings:  abuse or neglect.

There are two types of neglect:

  • Passive neglect is an unintentional failure to meet the physical, social, and/or emotional needs of the older person.  Some possible causes for passive neglect include lack of training for staff or insufficient numbers of caregivers.
  • Active neglect is an intentional failure to meet the physical, social and/or emotional needs of the older person.  This can include ignoring calls for assistance, not attending to the patient’s hygiene, or even a caregiver’s refusal to wash his or her hands (which can spread disease).

The critical difference between the two types of nursing home neglect lies in the intent of the caregiver.  With active neglect, the caretaker is deliberately failing to meet his or her obligations to the older person.  With passive neglect, the failure is not deliberate.

Self neglect can also be dangerous for an older person.  This is when an elderly person fails to meet their own physical, social, and/or emotional needs.  The question of whether or not to intervene can be a difficult one.

There are many different types of abuse that can occur in a nursing home, including:  physical abuse, mental or emotional abuse, financial abuse, and sexual abuse.

All residents in a nursing home or other care facility deserve to be treated with respect, to receive appropriate care and treatment, and to have their physical, emotional, and social needs met.  In the United States, nursing home residents’ rights are protected by both federal and state laws.

  • The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act was passed in 1980 to protect the civil rights of residents of nursing homes (and other similar facilities).
  • The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act was passed in 1987, requiring nursing homes to ensure a high quality of life for residents.
  • More recent laws require that nursing homes comply with local, state, and federal laws preventing discrimination, meet state and federal health and safety regulations, and more.
  • As of 2010, federal law includes privacy rights, freedom from restraint, and protection against transfer and discharge.

Violation of basic rights is another form of abuse.  This consists of depriving the older person of rights protected under state and/or federal law.  The list above is only a partial description of the basic rights covered by state and/or federal law.  You can request a full list of the rights for residents of care facilities from the Pennsylvania Department of Aging.

Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys

If you believe a family member or loved one is being abused or neglected in their care facility, assisted living, or nursing home, contact Philadelphia attorneys Villari, Lentz & Lynam, LLC. They stand ready to investigate and pursue all available civil damage remedies. Call (215) 568-1990 or complete the short form here.

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