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Microscopic bacteria from poor hygiene in a nursing home.

Poor Hygiene

When your loved one is placed in a nursing home or assisted living facility, it’s usually because he or she needs assistance with his or her activities of daily living. The level of care and assistance required dictates whether your loved one can reside in an assisted living facility or whether he or she requires a higher level of care in a nursing home. Regardless, facilities must ensure that those residents who require assistance with personal hygiene receive the care they deserve. When facilities neglect these responsibilities, residents suffer as poor hygiene practices lead to dire resident outcomes. Here are just a few examples of how poor hygiene manifests in the nursing home and assisted living facility settings:

 

  1. Infections and Diseases: Poor hygiene allows the spread of infections and diseases among residents. Close living quarters and communal spaces create an environment where pathogens can flourish. Common infections such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), respiratory infections, and skin infections become prevalent when hygiene standards are compromised. Oftentimes, basic hygiene practices can prevent these adverse outcomes.

  2. Pressure Ulcers and Skin Conditions: Residents who are not regularly bathed and monitored for skin health are at a higher risk of developing bed sores, pressure ulcers, and other skin conditions. These issues can progress rapidly and, if left unaddressed, may lead to serious complications, including infections and tissue damage. In many cases, residents are also unable to speak up and protect themselves due to mental illnesses. This serves to further compound a facility’s failure to provide proper hygiene.

  3. Incontinence Care: Residents who are unable to use a bathroom on their own might either require assistance using a toilet or assistance changing soiled diapers. The failure to assist these residents in a timely manner constitutes poor hygiene practices. When residents are left to sit in their urine or feces, they are at an increased risk of suffering from infections, like urinary tract infections (UTIs) and wound-related infections where fecal matter can infect open bed sores. The consequences of failing to provide proper incontinence care can be dire.

  4. Malnutrition and Dehydration: Neglecting basic hygiene needs often goes hand-in-hand with neglecting nutritional and hydration requirements. Residents may suffer from malnutrition and dehydration, leading to weakened immune systems, frailty, and increased susceptibility to illness. Therefore, if you suspect poor hygiene, pay attention to the signs and symptoms of malnutrition and/or dehydration.

  5. Loss of Dignity and Self-Esteem: Maintaining personal hygiene is an essential aspect of preserving an individual's dignity and self-esteem. When residents are denied the right to proper hygiene care, it can lead to feelings of embarrassment, shame, and a diminished sense of self-worth.

  6. Depression and Social Isolation: Poor hygiene can contribute to the development of depression and social isolation among residents. The shame associated with unmet hygiene needs may cause individuals to withdraw from social interactions, leading to a decline in mental well-being.

Poor hygiene can also present itself through improper (or non-existent) nail care, foot care, and/or dental hygiene, along with the failure to engage in regular baths/showers.

 

That said, for poor hygiene to evolve into an actionable legal matter, the resident must suffer some type of injury or consequence. In other words, while the failure to change a resident’s soiled diaper in a timely manner, in and of itself, might raise a red flag, you would not have a case against a facility unless that failure to change a diaper caused an injury, like an infection. If, on the one hand, that infection resolves with a basic antibiotic course of treatment, the chances of filing a successful lawsuit would decrease. If, on the other hand, the infection leads to further complications, including sepsis and/or death, the facility must be held accountable for the pain, suffering, and additional financial and emotional burdens it caused.

 

If you believe your loved one suffered from abuse or neglect at the hands of a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact the experienced attorneys at FIDJ, before it’s too late.

*The information contained herein is not, and must not be construed as medical advice.

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We Hold Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Facilities, Group Homes, and Adult Day Care Centers Accountable.

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