1 December 2023

What is Considered Negligence in a Nursing Home?

It isn’t a pleasant topic, however, care home negligence is a genuine issue and one that needs to be brought into the light. In the UK, the research shows that there are over 10,800 residential care homes and 4,200 nursing homes.

Generally speaking, the quality of care is good, however, sadly this is not always the case. Care homes are home to some of the UK’s most vulnerable elderly people and it is essential they are being treated with the care and compassion they deserve. 

In this article, we will be sharing what is considered negligence in a nursing home and how to spot the signs.

Topics that you will find covered on this page

What is Care Home Negligence? 

Care home negligence is categorised as any form of negligence that occurs when an individual’s wellbeing suffers after the person/people responsible for their care is neglectful of their duties in some way. 


When your loved one lives in a care home, it is not uncommon to worry about them. It is likely you expect the care home to provide a certain level of care and protection for your loved one. So, when this doesn’t happen or when something goes wrong, it can be heartbreaking. 


If your loved one has become ill or injured due to staff failings, the provision of poor medical treatment due to care home negligence, it is imperative you seek legal action. Below we share the most common types of care home negligence so that you can understand what to look out for. 

The Types of Negligence in Care Homes 

Unfortunately, care home negligence is a prevalent problem in many nursing homes around the UK. This can be for many reasons, from limited staff to poor training. However, whatever the cause, negligence in a nursing home is unacceptable. The following points outline the most common types of negligence in care homes. 

Medical Negligence 

During their time in a nursing home, many elderly people will require medical attention. This can range from GP check-ups to diagnostics and operations. It is the responsibility of the care home to ensure that the elderly receive access to the medical services, prescriptions, and treatments they need. Some of these can be provided by the nursing home while others will be offered at the hospital. 


If the care home fails to provide the appropriate level of care and support or, according to McCarthy & Co. Solicitors, the elderly person has “suffered as a result of an operation or procedure that went wrong […] a misdiagnosis or an incorrectly prescribed course of treatment”, this is categorised as medical negligence

Medical negligence also includes the following: 

  • Lack of appropriate staff training that leads to preventable mistakes and even injury. 
  • No provision of mobility supports to help the patient move around safely. 
  • Insufficient patient monitoring. 
  • Not moving the patient regularly enough, causing pressure sores. 
  • Giving the patient the wrong prescription, medication dosage, or giving the wrong medication. 
  • Inadequate support to help the patient with eating and drinking, causing malnutrition and dehydration. 

Emotional Abuse 

Another form of negligence within care homes is emotional abuse. Unlike other forms of negligence, emotional abuse can be more difficult to notice as there aren’t always clear signs. 

Often, nursing home staff who are causing the emotional abuse will repeatedly ridicule, humiliate, ignore, or intimidate a resident. In some cases, residents might be ignored by staff completely or purposefully isolated from others. 

Although it can be challenging to spot the signs of emotional abuse, the first step is being aware that it could be happening. Emotional abuse does tend to manifest itself in physical ways – you just have to know what you are looking for. A few common signs that a resident might be suffering from emotional abuse include: 

  • Sudden and seemingly unexplained changes in mood 
  • Irregular sleeping patterns 
  • Reduced or complete lack of eye contact 
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Inability or unwillingness to take part in activities or conversations 
  • A refusal to eat or drink 

Physical Abuse 

Being faced with the reality that your loved one might be facing physical abuse in their nursing home can be extremely distressing. The physical abuse of elderly patients, like all other forms of negligence, is completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated. 

The physical abuse against the elderly can include bruising caused by lack of care or training while lifting a patient and it can sadly extend into battery or assault. Typically, signs of physical abuse in the elderly are easier to spot than signs of emotional abuse. If you suspect your loved one is suffering from physical abuse in a nursing home, it is important to look out for the following signs: 

  • Unexplained bruising or wounds on their body 
  • An unwillingness to be hugged or held 
  • Visible sores, burns, cuts, or scratches 
  • Visible discolourations to any part of the body 
  • Sudden and unexplained changes in behaviour 
  • Sudden weight loss 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Lack of interest in things they once enjoyed. 

Elderly Neglect 

Unfortunately, when negligence is present in a nursing home, elderly neglect is often top on the list. Sadly, neglect in care homes is a common occurrence as nursing homes battle against dwindling staff numbers, lack of appropriate training, and reduced financial support. However, whether neglect is physical, emotional, or medical, it should not be permitted.

Meet the writer

Jessica Brown


My names is Jessica and I am a writer on the UK Care Guide website.  

My specialist is researching and then writing about a broad range of topics.  I studied English Language and Literature at Manchester University, and a use my skills to produce articles, such as the one you are reading.