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In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche


Documenting Neglect in Nursing Homes

Choosing a nursing home or assisted living facility for a loved one can be a tough decision, but one that often comes with the expectation of quality care and safety.

Unfortunately, instances of abuse and neglect in nursing homes have been on the rise in recent years. As family members, friends, or caregivers, it is our moral and legal responsibility to report any signs of potential abuse or neglect that are noticed.

Documenting potential abuse and neglect signs is crucial in the prevention of continued maltreatment and ensuring your loved one is safe in their care. In this blog, we will outline the steps to take to document evidence of potential abuse and neglect in nursing homes.

1. Observe and report any physical injuries or changes in behavior.

Potential signs of abuse and neglect in nursing homes can manifest physically or emotionally.

It is essential to document any physical injuries, such as bruises, cuts, or broken bones, that your loved one may have. It is also important to watch for changes in behavior, such as becoming more withdrawn or agitated than usual. Keep a record of any sudden changes in eating habits, sleep patterns, or emotionally responsive behaviors.

2. Take photos

Photos can be powerful tools to document evidence of abuse and neglect in nursing homes. In cases of physical harm, taking photos of injuries can help in determining the severity of the injury and when it occurred.

Be sure to take photos from different angles and in good lighting. Take as many photos as possible. Date stamp the photos or add a written description of the time and date.

Store photos off your phone as soon as possible. You can use a storage solution, such as Google Photos or Dropbox, to keep photos off camera.

If possible, send photos to somebody you trust. For example, a nursing home lawyer or a relative.

3. Keep a journal

Keeping a detailed journal of all incidents and occurrences is a powerful tool for documenting potential nursing home abuse or neglect cases.

Record the date and time of mistreatment, who witnessed it, and what happened. Remember, the more information that is documented, the stronger the case will be. If possible, interview other residents, staff members and visitors who may have witnessed the incident.

Getting an interview in a person’s actual voice is vital because your written account is hearsay evidence, which is usually inadmissible in court. Use your phone to record any interview. However, a recorded interview can be a statement against interest, which is admissible. Always get permission before recording because recording without permission is a crime in the United States.

Always get direct contact information for everybody you interview. Direct contact information includes a home address, a mobile or home phone number, and email or social media addresses. You will need direct contact information because management can hide witnesses from you. For example, an employee can quit and management will conveniently “lose” their contact information.

4. Gather medical records

Medical records such as x-rays, reports, and notes from nurses or physicians can be valuable evidence in abuse or neglect cases.

Keep a copy of all medical records and ensure that it is complete with notes written by medical professionals regarding any injuries, abuse, or neglect. Take photos of all medical records, reports, notes, and other documents you see. Once you take the photos, store them off camera.

Records are vital because attorneys need them as evidence. If you have paper records, keep the originals safe. If somebody asks for the records, make copies or take photographs of them. Keep the originals unless an attorney asks for them.

If an attorney wants the originals, make sure you have copies. You need to keep the records because they are the evidence that will make a case.

 5. Report abuse or neglect

Finally, it is essential to report any evidence or suspicious behavior to the proper authorities.

This includes the nursing home’s administration, local law enforcement, social services agencies, and prosecutors such as district attorneys. Speak with an attorney, or a social worker, for assistance with reporting.

Consumer affairs or investigative reporters at media outlets, such as local TV stations, can expose nursing home abuse and connect you with proper authorities. Sadly, authorities often pay more attention to wrongdoing when a TV camera is pointing at them. Thus, you need to consider contacting the media if authorities ignore you.


Protecting our loved ones in nursing homes from potential abuse, or neglect is of utmost importance. Documenting evidence of potential mistreatment can be a daunting task, but is critical in preventing continued maltreatment and ensuring our loved ones’ safety.

By observing and reporting any physical injuries or changed behaviors, taking photos, keeping a journal, gathering medical records, and reporting abuse and neglect. We can take steps towards ensuring our loved one’s safety and potentially preventing others from becoming victims.

It is our responsibility to report any evidence of potential abuse and neglect in nursing homes to organizations that can prevent it from happening again.