Home healthcare aides and caregivers perform an important role in our aging society, helping the elderly, disabled, or vulnerable to remain in their homes as long as possible, but that care can come at a cost.
We often hear reports of elder abuse or neglect in nursing homes and assisted living settings, but home healthcare abuse and neglect are also very common. Unfortunately, it is less likely to be reported because home healthcare providers are not necessarily overseen by an agency or care provider and families are unaware of the abuse or are responsible for inflicting the abuse themselves.
Many home healthcare providers are friends or family members who are not professionally trained in caring for the elderly, injured, or vulnerable. They may have started out just keeping an eye on their patient, helping to run errands, make meals, or keep up the house, but as time goes on and the patient’s needs increase, the caregivers’ abilities to provide adequate care may not keep pace and home healthcare abuse or neglect can occur.
Signs of Home Healthcare Abuse or Neglect
Elder abuse can take many forms, and home healthcare abuse is no exception. Abuse can be:
- Physical. Hitting, slapping, punching, pushing, pulling, grabbing, etc.
- Financial. Stealing cash, writing checks, or using patient credit cards.
- Sexual. Unwanted touching or attention, any form of penetration.
- Verbal. Calling names, using vulgar language.
- Emotional. Humiliating or manipulating patients.
Neglect is also a form of abuse and can include inadequate supervision or provision of care, poor nutrition, dehydration, or medication denial, among other things.
Gaps in Florida’s Elder Care Protections
Currently, Florida does not require home healthcare workers to be licensed or regulated in any way. In some situations, the caregiver may not even be subject to a background or reference check. The only exception is if the provider is employed by a Medicare or Medicaid-certified agency. This lack of oversight increases the risk of hiring home healthcare providers that could harm a vulnerable person – either intentionally or accidentally.
What To Do If You Suspect Home Healthcare Abuse
If you think a loved one is being abused or is suffering under the care of a home healthcare provider, you need to take action to prevent further harm and to keep the caregiver from hurting someone else. Complaints can be directed to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) Adult Protective Services, and the Aging Network. You can also speak with our nursing home abuse attorney, Andres Beregovich, to discuss legal action. In some cases, you can file a civil lawsuit against the caregiver or agency he or she is employed by if there has been neglect or abuse.
Contact The Beregovich Law Firm, with office locations in Orlando and Miami at (800) 631-9009 or online to schedule a no-obligation consultation with a Florida nursing home abuse attorney to explore your legal options and make sure such abuse doesn’t happen to another family.