Abuse and Neglect

According to the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, all residents in nursing homes are entitled to receive quality care and live in an environment that improves or maintains the quality of their physical and mental health. This entitlement includes freedom from neglect, abuse, and misappropriation of funds.

Neglect and abuse are acts or inaction by the facility inside or outside of the nursing home. Residents do not surrender their rights to protection from abuse or neglect when they enter a facility. The below information presents residents rights with regard to nursing home abuse and neglect, and steps to take if these rights are jeopardized.


Neglect is the failure to care for a person in a manner, which would avoid harm and pain, or the failure to react to a situation, which may be harmful. Neglect may or may not be intentional. For example, an aide who is poorly trained may not known how to provide proper care.

Examples of those failures may include:

  • Incorrect body positioning – which leads to limb contractures and skin breakdown;
  • Lack of toileting or changing of disposable briefs – which causes incontinence issues and results in residents sitting in urine and feces, increased falls and agitation, indignity and skin breakdown;
  • Lack of assistance eating and drinking – which leads to malnutrition and dehydration;
  • Lack of assistance with walking – which leads to immobility;
  • Lack of bathing – which leads to indignity, poor hygiene, infections and wounds;
  • Poor handwashing techniques – which leads to infection;
  • Lack of assistance with participating in activities of interest – which leads to withdrawal and isolation;
  • Ignoring call bells or cries for help


Abuse means causing intentional pain or harm. This includes physical, mental, verbal, psychological, and sexual abuse, corporal punishment, unreasonable seclusion, and intimidation.

Examples include:

  • Physical abuse from a staff member or an intruder (employee or other resident) or visitor from outside the facility – including hitting, pinching, shoving, force-feeding, scratching, shoving, force-feeding, scratching, slapping and spitting;
  • Psychological or emotional abuse – including berating, ignoring, ridiculing, or cursing a resident, threats of punishment or deprivation;
  • Sexual abuse – including proper touching or coercion to perform sexual acts;
  • Substandard care which often results in one or more of the following conditions – immobilization, incontinence, dehydration, pressure sores, and depression;
  • Rough handling during care giving, medicine administration, or moving a resident

Reporting Abuse & Neglect

It is a violation of State and Federal law for any person, including facility staff, volunteers, visitors, family members or guardians, or another resident, to neglect or abuse a resident. Anyone can and should report neglect and abuse. If you suspect neglect or abuse, or if a resident tells you they are experiencing this problem, it is important to believe the resident and report it immediately (and in writing, if possible) to:

  1. Police
  2. Ombudsmen
  3. Department of Health
  4. Nursing Home Administrator, Director of Nursing & Social Worker
  5. Local Citizen Advocacy Group or other Adult Protective Services Agencies

Many states have laws requiring reporting if you are in a particular position. The New Jersey Long Term Care Ombudsmen’s Office and the New Jersey Department of Health have easily accessible websites to report in writing any and all allegations of nursing home abuse and neglect.

With any reporting, make sure to include as much information as to:

  1. Who
  2. What 
  3. Where
  4. When

Continue to follow-up with the resident, facility, and/or agency.

Contact Schall at Law if you or a loved one has sustained an injury as a result of a nursing home, assisted living or group home’s abuse and/or neglect.