Theft in Nursing Homes
When your elderly loved one lives in a nursing home, they may be at risk for more problems than they had when living on their own. One of the heightened risks is theft and financial abuse. While living in a care facility, your loved one has far less privacy, and almost anyone can go into their rooms and access their wallets and valuable items. Additionally, your loved one is vulnerable to undue influence, fraud, and embezzlement.
If there is any indication that your loved one has been stolen from while living in a nursing home, or you believe someone is taking financial advantage of your loved one’s generosity or lack of capacity, contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today. We are well aware of the issue of theft in nursing homes and are here to help you protect your loved one. Call a Chicago nursing home abuse attorney at (312) 236-2900 today to schedule a free case consultation.
Theft in Nursing Homes
Elderly residents of nursing homes admittedly have less privacy than they would if they lived at home or with family. Many residents share rooms, and physicians, nurses, and nursing assistants constantly go in and out to care for the residents. Visitors to a facility are not given full access to the building, but when staff member’s backs are turned, they can easily find their way into other resident’s rooms. Unfortunately, this means residents are at risk for theft from all directions. Some examples of nursing home theft include:
- A staff member steals resident’s jewelry, including rings and watches, to pawn for cash
- A guest steals resident’s pain medication to get high
- A distant relative uses a resident’s checkbook to forge checks
Financial Abuse of Nursing Home Residents
The greater threat to nursing home residents is financial abuse, which often includes undue influence and fraud.
Undue influence occurs when individuals use various unlawful and unethical means to overcome an elderly person’s own free will and best judgment for personal benefit. This situation often arises when a staff member or visitor establishes themselves with a resident who is in need of more consistent companionship. The elderly person may become reliant on the other individual or feel emotionally close to them. The individual then uses this connection to lie and make false promises in order to obtain a financial benefit.
Examples of undue influence include:
- A staff member becomes close to a resident and informs them of the financial difficulties they face until the resident feels bad enough to provide them with cash.
- A visitor intentionally gets to know their elderly relative’s roommate and, over time, refers to them as having a close friendship. The visitor uses this connection to suggest that the elderly resident should leave them a portion of their will because the visitor is there more than the resident’s children.
- A family member visits an elderly resident on a daily basis. As the elderly person’s health declines, the individual convinces the resident to sign over their land to them to make it easier on the resident’s family after their death.
Fraud in Nursing Homes
Fraud is also closely related to undue influence. Elderly individuals, particularly those with declining cognitive abilities and memory issues, are highly susceptible to fraudulent schemes. There are many types of fraud crimes in Illinois. However, they all center on a person using deceit to unlawfully obtain a personal gain.
Examples of fraud include:
- A staff member misrepresents themself to an elderly resident as part of the accounting department at the facility. They trick the elderly resident into making unnecessary payments to the facility, which the staff member then diverts to their own account.
- The nursing home administration intentionally overcharges residents and then funnels the funds into bonuses for staff members.
- An investment broker contacts an elderly resident and promises to wisely invest their savings and quickly make them a great deal of money, which the resident can then use to ensure they leave something behind for their children and grandchildren. The investment broker then makes sure to increase their commissions instead of investing in the resident’s best interests.
How a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Can Help
If you believe your loved one has been stolen from, taken advantage of, or exploited, it is important to contact an attorney who has experience with nursing home neglect and abuse. Theft, undue influence, and fraud are all forms of financial abuse and a violation of nursing home residents’ rights. A lawyer can help you investigate the situation and gather proof of wrongdoing.
A lawyer will represent you in addressing the situation with the nursing home. Nursing homes are businesses, and they will have their own legal representation. They do not want to be responsible for the financial abuse of a resident, and your lawyer may have to push and negotiate in order for your loved one’s situation to improve.
The next level of the administrative process may be to file a complaint with Illinois’ Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. It is this department’s job to investigate complaints and work with nursing homes to resolve issues. Your lawyer may also advise filing a complaint with the Illinois Department of Public Health, which investigates alleged violations of the Nursing Home Care Act.
If you and your attorney are unable to remedy this situation through the administrative process, it is time to look into filing a lawsuit. Your elderly loved one has rights as a nursing home resident, including being free from abuse and neglect. If their rights were violated by an employee or the nursing home itself, they may be able to file a lawsuit against the facility and pursue compensation.
Contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. Today
Our legal team at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. has years of experience representing elderly individuals and their families in claims regarding physical, sexual, psychological, and financial abuse. We understand how vulnerable nursing home residents are and how essential it is for facilities to provide comprehensive and compassionate care. When facilities fail to do so, we are here to hold them responsible. We can fight for your loved one’s right to compensation after they have been hurt and can help protect other nursing home residents from suffering in the future.