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How to Report Elder Abuse in West Virginia

Nusing Abuse Image HeaderThe physical, mental, emotional or financial abuse of an elderly nursing home resident is deplorable. Tragically, many of these cases go unreported in Charleston and throughout West Virginia. As a result, the misconduct persists, and the perpetrators are never held accountable.

At Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, we believe it’s important to take action. If you suspect that your loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home, you should immediately report it and get legal help from an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer. Below, we outline signs of abuse and neglect that you should be on the lookout for when visiting with your loved one. We also provide a summary of steps you should follow to report the abuse, including contacting us without delay. We can provide a free consultation and help you through the reporting process. We want to help. Call or reach us online today.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

It is important to visit your loved one in a nursing home on a regular basis. When you do so, it allows you to detect signs of abuse, neglect and exploitation. It also helps you to develop a relationship with the facility’s staff members. You can more readily communicate your concerns to them. It also lets them know that you are paying close attention to your loved one’s care.

When you visit your elderly loved one, pay attention to these signs of possible abuse and neglect:
  • Physical abuse – Bruises, cuts, burns, abrasions and other injuries may be signs. Look for marks on the wrists and ankles, which may indicate use of physical restraints. Anxiety or nervousness around certain staff members should be red flags.
  • Mental abuse – If your loved one shows signs of anxiety or depression or suddenly engages in withdrawn or unusual behavior, it may be a sign that he or she is being subjected to mental abuse. Sleep difficulties are also a sign.
  • Sexual abuse – A change in mood and behavior may be a sign of sexual abuse along with bruises in the buttocks, breasts or genital areas. The diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease must also be followed up as a potential sign of abuse.
  • Neglect – If your loved one develops bed sores or other infections while in the facility, it may be a sign of neglect. Sudden weight loss and dry and flaky skin may reflect malnourishment or dehydration. Dirty clothes or bedding are red flags.
  • Financial exploitation – You should keep tabs on whether valuable items such as jewelry go missing. Pay attention to unexplained account withdrawals or overdrafts as well as mysterious credit card charges.

As a preliminary step, you should bring your concerns about suspected abuse or neglect of your loved one to the attention of the nursing home staff and administrators. If you do not receive an explanation, or if the explanation you receive raises more red flags, you should take action without delay.

Steps for Reporting Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

If you suspect abuse or neglect, you can and should report it to:

    • Adult Protective Services (APS)
    • Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
    • Your local law enforcement agency (if you believe it is an emergency).

The following are three steps you should take:

    1. Compile your information.

You should be ready to provide basic information to APS, the ombudsman or the police, including:

  • Name and age of your loved one
  • Name and address of the nursing home
  • Name of the suspected perpetrator
  • Names and contact information of any witnesses
  • Date, time and place of the suspected mistreatment
  • What happened to your loved one (type of abuse or neglect)
  • Injuries that you believe your loved one suffered
  • Whether you believe your loved one is facing imminent danger.

You should know that you can make an anonymous report. Unless you give authorization in writing, your identity will not be revealed to the nursing home or anyone else. You should not fear criminal charges or civil liability as long as you make your report in good faith.

Additionally, the nursing home will be prohibited by law from discriminating against, transferring or discharging your loved one because a complaint was filed. The nursing home can lose its license if it does so.

    1. File your report.

Once you have your information collected, you should file the report right away with APS. You can file a report in one of two ways:

  • IN PERSON You can go to your local Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) office. Please see the DHHR directory to find the office nearest to you.
  • BY PHONE You can simply call the 24-hour elder abuse hotline at 1-800-352-6513.

In addition to filing a report with APS, you can and should file a complaint with the West Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Call 1-800-834-0598 or check out the online ombudsman directory to get the contact information for your local ombudsman.

You can report suspected financial exploitation to the West Virginia Attorney General’s office at 1-866-241-5062.

A copy of your report to APS may be sent to:

  • Local police (if serious injury or death)
  • Coroner or medical examiner (if death)
  • Administrator of the nursing home.

If you believe your loved one is facing an imminent threat of harm, you should call 911. If the situation involves financial exploitation, you can report it to the West Virginia Attorney General’s office by calling 1-866-241-5062.


    1. Get help from an attorney.

As you move forward, an attorney can play an important role in protecting the rights of you and your loved one, including the right to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering and more. A lawyer can also serve as a liaison between your family and the authorities who are investigating the suspected abuse or neglect of your loved one. These are all reasons why you should get help from an attorney without delay.

Contact Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC. We will take the time to listen carefully to your concerns, and we will be committed to seeking a positive outcome in your case. Call or connect with us online today for a free consultation. We serve clients in Charleston and throughout West Virginia.

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