Never ask questions. That seems to be the belief of many nursing homes across the country. Nursing homes have always had a vast arsenal of weapons to keep families from registering their complaints, first and foremost the threat of kicking the elderly individual out on the streets. But now nursing homes have discovered a new weapon they can wield against caring families.
A story in the New York Times draws attention to this terrible new tool. Families are being sued under the pretense of debt collection. The nursing home seeks guardianship of an individual, claiming they are not being paid by the family for the treatments they are performing. Of course, many of these guardianship filings come after the family has protested the treatment of their loved one.
From the point of view of the nursing home, there are a number of benefits of filing these petitions, including:
- Putting the family on the defensive, making it more difficult for them to make reasonable accusations of abuse or neglect
- Put financial pressure on the family by drawing them into a costly legal battle
- Possibly gaining access to the funds of their patients, allowing them to pay themselves instead of having a set of outside eyes on the budget
Putting a loved one in a nursing home is a difficult decision for many families. Too many of these homes are rife with abuse and neglect, and there is little way for families to know ahead of time just what they are getting into. Situations like this, where nursing homes employ underhanded tactics, only make it even more clear how difficult it can be to trust your loved one to the care of another. Judges have started to strike back, chastising the nursing homes for their behavior, but this is not enough to actually stop the abuse.
If someone you love is in a nursing home, and you suspect abuse or neglect, be careful how you handle the accusation. The nursing home has many ways to derail your claims without ever having to address their validity. Please contact a qualified attorney who can help protect your rights and the rights of your loved one.