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Why Virginia nursing home abuse and neglect cases often remain hidden

If you have a loved one in a Virginia nursing home, you probably assume that the facility follows all applicable rules and regulations to keep your loved one safe.  Surely, if a crime against an elder is committed, justice will follow.  However, elder abuse and neglect cases often fall through the cracks.  Why is this?

  • Failure to report a crime.  Crimes against elderly residents are not reported.  Nursing homes and assisted living facilities can get away with not reporting crimes if the resident is not mentally aware enough to speak up for themselves.  Some facilities will brush abuse or neglect under the rug to avoid having the authorities breathing down their neck.
  • Embarrassment.  In some cases of elder abuse or neglect, the resident affected by the crime may be embarrassed or ashamed and unwilling to speak up about the crime. 
  • Resident on resident crime.  Staff may not be aware that crimes are taking place if they occur between residents.  This can be especially true of sexual crimes perpetrated by one resident on another, especially in facilities where residents’ doors are not locked at night. 
  • Mentally ill patients.  If crimes are committed that involve mentally ill patients, staff may not be aware that anything has happened because the patient is unable to communicate that there is a problem.  Even if staff suspect that abuse or neglect is going on, a mentally ill patient may not be able to help them figure it out.
  • Crimes by visitors.  Some cases of nursing home abuse are committed by visitors to the facility.  Staff may be unaware that abuse is taking place (for example, financial abuse of a resident by a friend or family member), or staff may be reluctant to confront a visitor about their suspicions.  Residents may also be unwilling to pursue allegations of abuse against a friend or family member.
  • Understaffing.  Studies have shown that abuse and neglect is more likely to happen at understaffed nursing homes.  If a nursing home or assisted living facility is understaffed, employees may fail to notice abuse or neglect, they may be guilty of committing abuse or neglect themselves because they are overworked, or they may be reluctant to bring such cases to light lest they get into trouble themselves.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from abuse or neglect in a Virginia nursing home or assisted living facility, then please take action.  You can contact the Warrenton or Culpeper offices of Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas to speak with an experienced, discreet elder abuse & neglect attorney.  Our personal injury lawyers have helped victims of nursing home abuse and neglect across Virginia, and they can help you, too.