Pam: Barry, do you have any messages for survivors of nursing home abuse or neglect?
Barry: Most often when I’m working with families, I’m working with the sons and daughters, or the spouse of a nursing resident who’s been hurt or killed by whatever’s happening in the nursing home, sadly. They’re really wracked with guilt for a number of reasons. Frequently it’s because they’re the ones who picked out the nursing home where things happened. They think to themselves that they should’ve done things differently, that they should’ve been on the staff more often. They should’ve stayed things, they should’ve pulled them out.
There’s a whole host of reasons why people are blaming themselves for what happened. And they should know that, you know, it’s not your fault at all. When you admit somebody to a nursing home at the very base level what the nursing home is doing is they’re making a promise to you that yes, they can take care off, and they can meet the care needs of your mom, or dad, or your spouse. And beyond just being a promise to you, it’s also the law, there are state and federal regulations which really require that.
So, what happens when you have these kind of events happen in a nursing home, it’s not just that they’re breaking their promise to you, they’re also breaking the law. So, guilt that people have is certainly understandable, and I see it often enough to know that people really do experience it. But the thing that you need to know is that it’s really not your fault at all.
Many times families are content to let things slide, they figure their parents were old and sick, and it was just their time. And the thing that you need to remember is that failure is really built right into how a nursing home operates. That what happened wasn’t just the fact that it was their time, or that they were old and sick, it was how the nursing home was operated really set the stage for exactly what occurred.
And what happened to their parent isn’t necessarily unique to what might happen to other residents in the nursing home, so that when you take these kind of cases on, you’re not just being an advocate for the memory of your mother and father, you’re also being an advocate for the residents who are still there, and for their families. So that there’s some chance that you may actually spur some change, maybe just on a micro level. When you talk about nurses going in and trying just a little bit harder for just a few days, that can change the whole course of somebody’s care in a nursing home.
Taking on these cases creates an opportunity for change which can spare some other family the kind of heartache that you might have experienced yourself