Making the decision to move to a New Hampshire nursing home can be rife with emotion and uncertainty. In 2022, the World Health Organization found that one in six people over age 60 experienced some form of nursing home abuse during their stay at a community facility.
Moreover, two out of three nursing home staff members reported that they’ve committed some form of abuse in the past year.
Nursing home abuse in New Hampshire should be regulated by state and federal laws, but victims may be afraid to speak out against their caretakers. When they’re afraid is when they should rely on a nursing home attorney to represent them.
An expert attorney knows when care facilities are infringing on your loved one’s rights. Predatory facilities will continue to hurt the elderly and vulnerable unless legal action is delivered. If you feel that you or your loved one’s rights were violated by a nursing home, speak with a local nursing home attorney in our network to start your claim.
New Hampshire Nursing Home Resident Rights
In 1986, Congress requested a study to investigate the increasing reports of nursing home and elder care abuse across the country. The result of that study was the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act.
The goal of this sweeping act is to ensure that nursing home residents receive quality care that achieves or maintains their “highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial wellbeing.”
Like other states, New Hampshire nursing home residents are guaranteed 15 rights under this federal law, including the right to freedom from abuse, neglect, and mistreatment. Other rights include:
- The right to freedom from restraints
- The right to privacy and personal property
- The right to freedom from discrimination
- The right to proper medical care
- The right to receive social services
- The right to manage personal money and get financial information
- The right to participate in resident groups and activities
- The right to have visitors
- The right to leave the nursing home
- The right to protest unfair discharge or transfer
- The right to communicate freely and air grievances without retaliation
- The right to involve family, friends, or a long-term care ombudsman
- The right to be treated with dignity
If your loved one’s New Hampshire nursing home egregiously violated these rights, you may have a claim for abuse. There are several ways harm is dealt in a care facility, so watch out for red flags and document the evidence to your attorney.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse in New Hampshire
Because nursing home abuse is a problem that, with the aging of Baby Boomers, will continue to keep increasing, New Hampshire has enacted an Adult Protection Law that delineates and defines the types of abuse that can happen to elders and others living in nursing homes in New Hampshire:
Acts initiated by a staff member that cause bodily injury or new or exacerbated medical conditions is considered physical abuse in New Hampshire. This can also be abuse that happens between nursing home residents. Examples of physical abuse can be:
- Punching or kicking
- Excessive restraint from straps and ties
- Bedsores from physical neglect
Look for unexplained marks and bruises to verify whether your loved one was physically abused in their nursing home facility. Take pictures of the evidence so your attorney can better represent your case.
Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home neglect occurs when staff ignore, minimize, or simply don’t treat issues a nursing home resident is encountering. Those issues can be medical, emotional, physical, or safety related.
Neglect can be the blatant ignoring of a resident, but it could also be:
- Poor care of a resident that results in medical issues
- The escalation of a current medical issue
- Medical issues such as bedsores and falls
Neglect is hard to detect and leaves minimal evidence behind for your nursing home abuse claim. If staff members forget to give your loved one their prescription medicine on a daily basis, try to document those moments to strengthen your claim. Tell them to journal everything to ensure they’re not left out of the care they deserve.
Examples of financial exploitation can come in the form of:
- Changing bank and account contact information
- Unauthorized access to bank accounts and investments
- Pressure to make unwise investments
- Participating in irresponsible or fraudulent endeavors
Talking about finances is never easy, but preventing caretakers from taking advantage of your friends and family’s wealth is worth the discussion.
Emotional abuse can be perpetrated on nursing home residents by staff or other residents. Blatant acts of intimidation or harassment constitute emotional abuse, as does causing emotional distress from poor or negligent care.
Sexual abuse encompasses any act of non-consensual physical contact and can occur between a resident and staff member or residents of the same nursing home. Make sure to report instances of sexual abuse to the New Hampshire Department of Health & Human and Services as soon as you can. Potential signs of sexual abuse by the DHHS include:
- Difficulty walking or sitting
- Chronic depression
- Afraid of physical contact
- Frequent stomachaches or headaches
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
It might be difficult to notice if a family member is being abused while in a nursing home. Unless you are visiting often, your view into their daily lives is limited. If your family member feels intimidated or afraid, they may be hesitant to tell you about any abuse they are suffering.
To make this harder, if they are experiencing emotional or sexual abuse, your loved one might be unwilling to talk about it due to feelings of shame or embarrassment. Furthermore, financial abuse may only be apparent if you regularly monitor their accounts, or when your loved one tries to access an account and sees an irregularity.
These complications make it even more important that you look for unspoken signs of abuse when you do visit your loved one.
Potential signs of physical abuse can be:
- Unexplained bruises or injuries
- Quick weight loss or gain
- Unexplained changes in daily routines, including sleep or eating habits
- New or unexplained bedsores
Possible signs of emotional abuse might be:
- An unwillingness to talk about their day or how they’re feeling
- A withdrawal from group activities or an unwillingness to join social outings
- Poor hygiene
- An obvious fear of workers or other residents
- New repetitive and soothing behavior, such as scratching or rubbing their skin
How Do I Report Nursing Home Abuse in New Hampshire?
If you or your loved one are in immediate danger, you should call 911 before doing anything else. Only after the person’s safety is ensured should other actions be taken.
Suspicions of nursing home abuse in New Hampshire should be reported to the Bureau of Elderly & Adult Services at (603) 271-7014 or toll-free from within New Hampshire at 1-800-949-0470.
Reporting of suspected nursing home abuse is not restricted to the abused person or their legal family; anyone who suspects that a vulnerable adult has been subject to abuse, neglect, or self-neglect can make the report.
It would benefit all involved if you gathered pertinent information before making this call. Examples of information to collect are:
- Names of all involved parties, including the staff member(s) suspected of perpetrating the abuse
- The name, address, and phone number of the nursing home
- A brief summary of the abuse reported
- Names of any witnesses that can corroborate the abuse
- Photos of any physical abuse
- A list of suspected abuse details, including dates and times of occurrence
Once you have reported the abuse, it’s important to contact a nursing home abuse attorney. You and your loved one may be owed compensation for the abuse suffered and it’s best to hire an attorney as soon as possible to start building a possible case.
Types of Damages Owed
Damages awarded in New Hampshire are split into two categories: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages seeks to compensate you for the damages done against you by the guilty party. Punitive damages further punish the guilty party for malicious or extremely reckless acts.
There are two types of compensatory damages that exist in nursing home torts. The first type are economic damages. These are the measurable, tangible damages done to you because of nursing home abuse. Examples of economic damages may be:
- Unpaid medical bills
- Lost income
- Loss of personal property
- Reduced earning potential
- Property damage
The second kind of compensatory damages are considered non-economic damages. These award compensation for non-tangible damages. Examples of these would be:
Punitive damages are penalties that further punish the perpetrator through additional economic awards. This usually happens when a judge has found there to be deliberately reckless. New Hampshire is one of a few states that does not allow punitive damages for nursing home abuse cases.
New Hampshire Statute of Limitations for Nursing Abuse
The majority of civil suits in New Hampshire have a statute of limitations of three years. It’s vital to check with a nursing home abuse attorney to determine how your particular circumstances affect your nursing home abuse case.
Connect With a Skilled Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
LegalAsap’s network of 500+ law firms across the United States can connect you with a New Hampshire attorney for a free, no-obligation consultation. If you want to know whether you have a case, call 888-927-3080 or sign the short evaluation form below:
Lisa Allen is a writer and editor who lives in suburban Kansas City. She holds MFAs in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, both from the Solstice Low-Residency Program in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College. Prior to becoming a writer, Lisa worked as a paralegal, where she specialized in real estate in and around Chicago.