Medical breakthroughs and better standards of living, particularly in relation to dietary awareness, mean that we’re all living longer than ever before. This is clearly a good thing, but it doesn’t come without some additional problems of its own. As our population ages more and more people have to spend their final years living in a care home. Physical and mental infirmity, allied to the more atomised nature of family life, mean that older people often simply don’t have the care they require at hand, and the professionals have to step in.
In the vast majority of cases the care offered by homes is excellent, with dedicated staff and comfortable surroundings helping residents to feel as well looked after as is possible. Occasionally, however, horror stories surface in the media of homes where residents are neglected or poorly treated, and where standards are allowed to slip well below what is acceptable.
If you face the prospect of placing an elderly relative in a care home then the chances are that you’ll be racked with doubt and a sense of responsibility. If something does go wrong, then, it’s only right that you should be able to seek compensation, either on your own behalf or on that of an elderly parent or other relative unable to mount their own case.
The government sets forth strict guidelines outlining the standards which can be expected to be found in care homes. These guidelines include statements such as: residents can have visitors at any reasonable time, and if there are restrictions these are made known and explained to those concerned, and staff have knowledge and understanding of each individual resident’s usual conduct, behaviours and means of communication. Responses and interventions of staff promote positive outcomes for residents.
If the care home concerned falls below any of the standards set out then you could be well within your rights to seek compensation, and the same applies if the resident in question becomes injured or ill whilst in a care home and you feel that this was caused by negligence.
If you feel that something like this has happened then contact a personal injury lawyer and provide them with the details of your case. This process will proceed far more smoothly if you can provide the maximum amount of information, which includes a full account of what happened, the names of any witnesses and the accounts of any medical practitioners who had to be summoned.
If your solicitor feels that you have a strong case then they will proceed on the basis of the fact that the resident of the care home has been neglected, and suffered as a result.
Any payment of compensation given will cover any out of pocket expenses the situation has brought about, as well as acting as an acknowledgement that the older person in question has been badly treated and compensating for any pain and suffering.
Residential care homes don’t come cheap and often represent the final abode of someone who’s spent their entire life working and raising a family. As such they should be held to the highest possible standards, and the right to seek compensation will help to ensure that this is the case.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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