Those who are aging and suffer from certain medical conditions, ranging from degenerative brain diseases to conditions that affect mobility, may reach a point where they are unable to care for themselves. As such, the elderly person or/and the individual’s family members may decide that investing in nursing home care is the best decision for all parties.
Nursing homes certainly can–and often do–provide aging and ill patients with the quality care that they need and deserve. To be sure, great nursing homes can improve a resident’s quality of life, and aid with medical care, eating, movement, social interaction, and personal hygiene.
But nursing homes do not always provide residents with the level of care that they are entitled to. In fact, nursing home neglect and abuse are growing problems throughout the United States, with hundreds of thousands of nursing home residents suffering yearly. One sign of neglect and abuse that loved ones of those within a nursing home should look out for is poor hygiene. If you believe that poor hygienic care is taking place, we urge you to take action immediately. At the office of the Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm LLC, our Minnesota nursing home neglect and abuse lawyers are here to help.
SIGNS OF POOR HYGIENIC CARE OF NURSING HOME RESIDENTS
Poor hygiene of a nursing home resident is one of the surest signs that nursing home neglect, or in some cases, nursing home abuse, is taking place. Examples of poor hygiene that are often indicative of neglect include:
- Fecal or urine odors;
- Greasy hair;
- Body odor;
- Visible signs of dirt or other debris;
- Unclean clothes;
- Dirty nails;
- Eye infections or crusting of the eyes;
- Bad breath or other signs of poor dental hygiene; and
- General appearance of being disheveled, i.e. uncombed hair, unshaved face, etc.
Poor hygiene can also be a sign of other conditions, such as depression, especially when the nursing home resident has the ability to perform self-grooming.
NURSING HOME NEGLECT AND POOR HYGIENE – WHY NEGLECT OCCURS
Poor hygiene of a nursing home resident often occurs as a result of neglect, which means that the nursing home nurses and other staff members are not performing their duty to help the nursing home maintain good personal hygiene through daily bathing, assistance using the restroom, help with self-grooming (like doing hair, shaving, etc.), changing of soiled undergarments, changing into fresh clothing, brushing of the teeth, etc.
Poor hygiene is rarely an intentional consequence of nursing home professional’s actions. Instead, poor resident hygiene often occurs because of:
- A poor staff to patient ratio, with nursing home staff members simply not having enough time to bathe residents or provide them with other hygienic care that they need; and
- Poor training or nursing home procedures in place, such as an adequate system of documenting what hygienic care the patient has already received that day, and poor communication between staff members, especially during shift changes.
In some cases, poor hygiene may occur because a nursing home does not have the proper tools in place to assist with hygiene, such as an adequate number of roll-in showers (for wheelchairs) or patient lifts that can be used to safely move a patient.
NURSING HOME ABUSE AND POOR HYGIENE
In severe and truly terrible cases, the poor hygiene of a nursing home resident may be a result of nursing home abuse. This can happen in a couple of different ways:
- The nursing home staff member refuses to provide hygienic care for the resident in order to punish them, intimidate them, embarrass them, or otherwise cause them physical or psychological harm; or
- Another form of abuse is occurring, and the nursing home resident stops engaging in personal hygienic care as a direct result, perhaps due to the trauma or the development of depression and a lack of self worth.
LACK OF NURSING HOME RESIDENT HYGIENE CAN BE DANGEROUS
Intentional or not, failing to perform the hygienic care that a nursing home resident needs and deserves is unacceptable. Not only is it unpleasant–no one enjoys being unclean, nor the odors that accompany a lack of cleanliness–but a lack of hygienic care can also be dangerous, too. Indeed, when proper hygiene is not performed, a resident may be at a greater risk of:
- Oral hygiene complications, which can lead to a number of other problems, such as a difficulty to chew and therefore swallow food;
- Undiagnosed complications (i.e. a nurse may not notice a resident’s bedsores because the time hasn’t been taken to properly assess and clean the patient’s body and skin); and
- Psychological and mental decline.
These effects can lead to a worsening of a patient’s health condition, and in some cases, even lead to early death.
IMPROPER HYGIENIC CARE FOR NURSING HOME RESIDENTS IS UNACCEPTABLE
Nursing homes are tasked with an enhanced duty to provide all patients with a high standard of care, which no doubt includes ensuring that residents’ hygiene is attended to and that patients are clean and well-groomed. When this duty of care is neglected and patients suffer harm as a result, action needs to be taken.
One thing that you can do as a family member of a loved one in a nursing home who you believe is a victim of poor hygienic care is to talk to a nursing home manager or supervisor and see what can be done to alleviate the problem. You can–and should–also file a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Health. If the problem persists or if it’s too late, and your loved one has already suffered harm, you should consider filing a nursing home abuse or neglect lawsuit to recoup damages.
LET US HELP YOU TODAY
At the Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm LLC, our Minnesota nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys are not only experienced, but passionate about protecting the rights of those who are vulnerable and often are unable to defend themselves. If poor hygienic care has led to harm, please call our lawyers today schedule your free consultation and begin the process of recovering damages. You can also send us a message using our contact form.