We frequently highlight the problem of nursing home abuse and neglect in The Mountain State because it is such a prevalent issue. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted staffing shortages and other problems that already existed in nursing homes around West Virginia and across the nation. Relatives were locked out of these facilities and could not provide supplemental care to their relatives. This left the few available caretakers overwhelmed with caring for entire facilities, leaving residents without needed assistance. Nursing homes were regularly under-staffed even before the lockdowns, leading to increases in abuse during the pandemic.
Residents and their families do have rights and options for defending themselves against nursing home abuse.
Adult Protective Services (APS)
Before filing your report, make sure that you have available this information:
• Your loved one’s name and age
• The name of the nursing facility
• Date, place, and time of the abuse incident
• Information about the person involved in the abuse
• Witness names and contact details
• The type of abuse your loved one suffered, including any injuries
• The possibility of immediate danger
You can file your complaint with West Virginia Health & Human Services at 1-800-352-6513, 24/7.
The West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services runs the state’s Ombudsman program. An ombudsman is both an observer and mediator for nursing home residents and their families. Working with West Virginia Senior Legal Aid, the Ombudsman is a non-attorney official who investigates complaints, reports on them, and helps settle them.
In a nursing home or other long-term care setting, the Ombudsman investigates abuse and neglect claims, resolves them, works with law enforcement on reports, advocates for the rights of the residents, and provides information to the public. Relatives or residents can contact the Ombudsman program online to get information or express their concerns. These services are free, confidential, and available to nursing home residents, their families, friends, and caretakers.
To request help from the Long-Term Care Ombudsman advocacy program, call the statewide toll-free number at 1-800-834-0598. Legal Aid has additional information on its website.
Law Enforcement For Emergencies
If your loved one is in danger or has suffered life-threatening injuries, immediately call 911. You’ll file a police report and your loved one will be taken to the hospital for treatment.
Utilize Technology: The Granny Cam
If your loved one is telling you that they are experiencing abuse, one option is to install a camera in their room.
In Texas City, Texas, two caretakers were fired and arrested after physically abusing a resident after he fell out of bed. The family installed the camera after prior incidents of abuse.
West Virginia does not currently have laws about installing cameras in nursing homes. However, West Virginia is a one-party consent state for recording, so one party must give their consent to having the camera in the room.
While lack of privacy is a concern, an in-room camera lets caretakers know they are being watched when family members are not around. If abuse does occur, you’ll have the evidence you need to pursue civil actions and criminal charges.
Defending West Virginia’s Most Vulnerable
We hope that your loved one is always well cared for in a nursing home. If ever you discover that they are not, please call us immediately.
Because a nursing home lawsuit can be complicated, it’s important to have an attorney who understands the complexities of such a case. Contact The Love Law Firm today at (304) 344-5683 for a free consultation. We’ve helped thousands of West Virginians fight for their loved ones in nursing homes, and we’re ready to fight for your loved one.