We have all seen vulnerable nursing home residents being mistreated on TV. Unfortunately these incidents occur every day. According to the American Psychological Association, every year an estimated 2.1 million older Americans are victims of physical, psychological or other forms of abuse and neglect. As nursing home abuse lawyers, we have seen it all – residents that have died from dehydration and malnutrition; terrible skin infections; preventable falls; and residents with dementia who wandered into great danger. Placing a loved one into a nursing home is emotionally trying. You must choose the right nursing home and regularly monitor its quality of care.
How to Choose the Right Nursing Home
Do your research. Check the government nursing home rating website. It provides detailed information about every Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing home in the country, including:
- Health inspection reports;
- Fire safety inspection reports;
- Staffing rates;
- Quality measures; and
- A five star rating system.
Once you have narrowed your search, begin a local investigation. Speak with family and friends about their experiences with the homes you are considering. What problems or concerns did they have with the facility? Did their loved one engage in daily activities? Speak with your loved one’s internist for advice on the facilities in the area. Also, contact your Long-Term Care Ombudsman, who visits nursing homes throughout the year. He/she can provide general information about each nursing home, like strengths and weaknesses.
Once you have your final choices, take a full tour of each facility. Did it feel warm or like an institution? Was it clean with a pleasant smell? Was anyone left unattended and in need of care? Was the staff pleasant and helpful? Was the facility properly secured? Find out what you can expect from the facility, including residents’ opportunities for social interaction.
Monitor the Quality of Care
Selecting the proper nursing home is only half the battle. You must make regular visits to the facility to monitor quality of care.
Visit frequently. If the staff knows that you are actively involved in the resident’s care, they will be more attentive.
Vary the dates and times of your visits. Avoid a set visitation schedule, so the staff will always be ready for your visit by providing proper care.
Speak to the aides and nurses. Establish a good rapport with the staff. Effective communication is helpful to ensure the residents’ needs are met and that the staff is comfortable alerting you to any problems.
Be involved. Be involved in the care plan process and health assessments, addressing each of the resident’s daily needs, including nutrition, hydration, therapy, social interaction, mobility and safety issues. Your insight is invaluable – share it, be active and stay involved – and the harder the staff will work.
Stay involved. Review the chart each visit. Don’t hesitate to ask the staff to read an illegible entry to you. Review meal and medication schedules – make sure they are performing what is documented. If you catch a fraudulent entry, deal with it immediately. It may be evidence of larger issues.
Report problems. If you have concerns, make them known. Speak with the staff, and share your complaint. If you don’t receive a satisfactory response, go up the chain of command, and speak with the Director of Nursing and then the Administrator. If all else fails, contact the local Ombudsman.
Selecting the proper nursing home and staying involved can be daunting. These steps will help decrease the stress and make certain your loved one receives proper care.