When families place a loved one in a nursing home, they expect their family member to be given quality care. It’s the nursing home’s responsibility to provide the quality of care that the family is unable to provide personally. While most nursing homes can and do provide quality care for their residents, if you suspect or see nursing home abuse, you should take immediate action.

Don’t adopt a wait and see mindset. If you have reason to believe your family member is being abused or neglected, take action sooner rather than later. Reporting abuse and neglect is the only way to put a stop to the behavior, especially if your family member is unable to speak for him or herself.

Remain Calm. When your loved one is in a nursing home and you suspect abuse, it’s easy to lose your temper. However, it’s important for your loved one’s sake that you remain calm and seek a resolution to the situation in a reasonable manner. Unless you have reason to believe their life is in imminent danger (in which case you need to call 911 immediately), it’s best to confront the nursing home’s administration first.

Question the nursing home management about any signs of suspected abuse. What you think is abuse may not be. Be willing to listen to the staff/management and allow them to offer explanations or offer to investigate your concerns. If they are unable or unwilling to explain the situation satisfactorily, you will want to look into more formal action. If the explanation is unsatisfactory or your family member’s condition fails to improve or gets worsens, contact the appropriate state agency and file a complaint. Every state has a department that is responsible for adult protective services and an ombudsman program to resolve complaints and advocates on behalf of residents in long-term care facilities. These professionals can investigate the claim and make the appropriate changes. You should also contact a nursing home abuse lawyer to discuss the situation and see what possible legal steps you can take.

Talk to Your Family Member. If you see signs of nursing home abuse or neglect, ask your loved one about the situation, privately if possible. If the nursing home management will not allow this for any reason, you will want to take further action. Be aware that your family member, even if they are mentally capable of recognizing the problem and telling you about it, may be reluctant to speak out about abuse for a number of reasons: due to fear of retribution from the abuser, a misplaced sense of loyalty to nursing home staff, not wanting to be seen as a complainer, or believing that they should just accept what happens to them.

Ask questions and take notes. A quality nursing home will not mind your questioning as long as you are respectful and reasonable. Take written notes of anything you see which is amiss. There is nothing wrong with taking pictures, writing the names and job positions of the people you speak to, and talking to other residents who are willing to talk with you and who may have information about the incident.

Call the police if there is clear abuse and/or imminent danger. If there is clear cut abuse, or if you have reason to believe your family member is in imminent danger, call the police immediately. At the very least, you should be asked to file a complaint. If needed, the police may intervene to ensure the safety of nursing home residents.


Consult a lawyer. If your loved one is being abused or neglected, he or she is entitled to protection and may be entitled to compensation under the law. Reporting abuse and neglect is essential, but formal legal action is also an important step. This is because most abusive facilities won’t change until formal legal action is taken, affecting their profit margins or their ability to remain in business. Consulting a lawyer reinforces the seriousness of the behavior and ensures that swift corrective action is taken and the quality of life for all the residents of the facility is enhanced by your actions.

If you or a loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the Law Offices of David J. Hoey, PC for a free consultation to learn your legal rights and see if you have a case. The Law Offices of David J. Hoey, PC through litigation attempts to improve quality of care and life in nursing homes and assisted living.

This information included in this Blog is not intended to be used as legal advice. This Blog may constitute advertising under the rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.