Since your father became a nursing home resident, you have diligently made weekly trips to visit him, check on how he is adapting and making sure that the staff is properly caring for him. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a bit more difficult to make those visits. The nursing home provides you with weekly updates as to whether any staff or residents tested positive for the virus.

Now, your visits hinge upon whether the virus’s presence has surfaced at the nursing home. When it has not, and all things are clear, you are given the green light for outdoor or controlled visits. On one of those visits, you notice some changes in your father. He is more disheveled than usual, has become more withdrawn and is evasive when you ask him questions. You suspect abuse.

Document everything, contact administrators

Protecting your father is a priority. Here are some steps if you suspect your parent is the victim of abuse by nursing home staff:

  • Look for signs of potential physical and emotional abuse. Are there unexplained bruises and scratches on your parent’s body? Is he showing signs of dehydration, malnutrition and poor hygiene? Do you notice any behavioral changes such as fear, depression and anger?
  • Whether your parent is lucid or not, have a serious talk with them. Ask questions, express your concerns and listen. Make note or record everything your parent tells you. Make sure to take photographs and obtain any medical records to support your case.
  • Install a “granny cam” in your parent’s room. This discreet camera may prevent further abuse. But, before doing so, make sure to get permission from the nursing home.
  • Maintain regular contact with nursing home administrators and inform them of your suspicions. Lobby for changes.
  • File a complaint with the New York State Department of Health if nursing home administrators provide less-than-satisfactory answers regarding your concerns.
  • Remove your parent from this nursing home if this is realistic.
  • Contact a reliable and experienced attorney who understands elder abuse law cases.

The COVID-19 threat has complicated so many things in everyday life. This includes nursing homes and their residents. Still, if you make visits to your parent living in a nursing home, continue to be vigilant in looking out for his or her well-being.