Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities are supposed to care for elderly adults who cannot care for themselves. Unfortunately, too many of these facilities provide the opposite of a safe and caring environment; instead, they neglect and abuse residents.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services Annual Elder Abuse and Neglect Report for 2020 indicates that there were 985 reports/allegations of elder abuse and exploitation where the victim was living in a nursing home or some type of assisted living facility.
At Boller & Vaughan, we know that there are safe, reputable nursing homes in the Madison, Wisconsin, area. But we have also seen many cases of elder abuse and neglect, and we are dedicated to fighting for justice for victims and their families. If you suspect a loved one is being hurt or neglected in their nursing home, contact the experienced team in our Madison office. We’ll help you figure out the next step to seek justice and compensation.
Types of nursing home abuse and neglect
Under Wisconsin law, there are several types of recognized elder abuse:
- Neglect: unintentionally failing to provide adequate care
- Physical abuse: intentionally inflicting physical injury
- Sexual abuse: intentionally providing unwanted sexual contact
- Financial exploitation: stealing money or property through coercion, deceit, or force
- Emotional abuse: intentionally using threatening, humiliating, or intimidating behavior
Sometimes signs of neglect and abuse are obvious: unexplained cuts and bruises, bedsores, or sudden changes in health. But it can be harder to identify signs of financial exploitation or emotional abuse.
Elder abuse and neglect in Wisconsin nursing homes
According to a story by WBAY.com 2 First Alert, thousands of complaints of elder abuse and neglect were filed throughout Wisconsin in 2019. First Alert Investigation found that the number of complaints rose during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ProPublica’s Nursing Home Inspect report (updated in November 2021) shows that Wisconsin was in the top ten states in terms of the number of nursing homes with serious deficiencies. In fact, 31% of Medicare-certified nursing homes in the state had at least one serious deficiency in the last three years. Nursing homes in Wisconsin racked up a total of $5.36 million in fines and penalties.
A story that made national news in September 2021 describes an assisted living facility employee accused of abusing a patient at the Racine County facility where she worked. The accused employee allegedly filmed herself repeatedly kicking a naked and bound male patient.
In many cases, exploitation, neglect, and abuse are perpetrated by nursing home employees and care providers. However, sometimes other residents are the abusers. The Green Bay Press Gazette featured a story in December 2021 of a care facility resident who was sexually assaulted by another resident. The care facility did not provide immediate medical care to the victim, notify her family, or report the incident to the police.
What to do if you suspect elder abuse or neglect
If you suspect that a loved one is being abused or neglected in their nursing home or assisted living facility, you can file a complaint with the Division of Quality Assurance (DQA). The DQA is part of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
You can make an anonymous complaint. If you choose to leave your name and contact details (to receive notification of the investigation’s outcome), your identity will not be shared with the nursing home or care provider.
You may also have the option of pursuing a legal case against the facility or care provider. An experienced nursing home abuse attorney can explain your options for filing a lawsuit.
The Boller & Vaughan team fights for nursing home abuse victims
If you’re looking for a long-term care facility for yourself or a loved one, you can check the DQA website to find out if the places you’re considering have a history of complaints or investigations. This can help you narrow down your list to facilities that have a good reputation. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to know for sure whether a nursing home will be a safe place.
It’s devastating to learn that your loved one has been harmed or exploited by those who were supposed to be caring for them. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is all too common in Madison and throughout Wisconsin.
At Boller & Vaughan, we’re committed to doing everything we can to stop nursing home abuse and secure justice for victims and their families. If you suspect abuse or neglect, contact our caring team to schedule a free consultation. We’ll listen to your story and help you understand your options.