When loved ones can no longer take care of themselves, the task of choosing a nursing home seems overwhelming. Many excellent nursing homes offer good choices, but you need to know how to avoid the poor ones. To separate the good from the bad, you must know both what to look for and what questions to ask. Sadly, elder abuse and neglect are real and run rampant in poorly managed nursing homes. Be proactive during your search with the following tips and considerations. Should your nursing home choice turn ugly, react by hiring an attorney.
Tips & Considerations:
Placing your loved one in the care of strangers is difficult. Knowing you can trust the nursing home staff to properly care for your loved one provides peace of mind. One key quality to look for in a nursing home is excellent staffing. Pay attention to whether or how:
- The staff appears overworked. Ask about staff-to-patient ratios and whether staff is expected to work overtime.
- The staff appears stressed. Overworked staff can mean poorer standards of care and low morale.
- The staff interacts with one another. If staff treat other employees poorly, they probably treat residents poorly as well.
- The staff interacts with residents. If you observe staff standing around, gossiping, etc., there is little chance they interact with residents.
Caring for the elderly is a demanding job that requires empathy and sensitivity. Ask staff what they like most about their jobs, and what motivated them to enter the field. Their answers may provide insights into the lives of facility residents.
Sights, Sounds, and Smells
A clean nursing home is an obvious quality to look for—shiny floors, clean windows, and no bad smells. Resident rooms should include frequently washed bed linens and properly sanitized bathrooms. Televisions or radio volumes should accomodate residents’ preferences.
Look for items like live plants, holiday decorations, and cheerful paint colors. Small things in the decor add up to large influences on the overall environment. For a majority of nursing home residents, this is their final home; as such, the home should reflect an atmosphere of peace, professionalism, cleanliness, and comfort.
Under no circumstances should you hear calls of distress from residents. Unattended or neglected residents without a prompt staff response is a serious red flag.
Consider the overall feeling of the setting—you should commonly encounter laughter and smiles.
Good nutrition is especially important for the elderly in maintaining good health. Inquire about snacks, dining options, and meal settings. Inquire with the kitchen staff about their ability to accommodate special diets, and ask to tour the kitchen. A clean kitchen is another important sign to look for; be wary of unclean floors, rodent traps, or otherwise poor sanitary conditions.
Before signing your loved one for care at the facility, ask to dine once with the other residents. This a great way to observe staff interaction and the feelings of residents, and it provides you an opportunity to sample the kitchen’s cuisine. Take your loved one and the rest of your family with you, as it will afford them the opportunity to meet the residents and form an opinion of the facility.
Staying active is important to a senior’s overall health. Inquire about daytime activities and events. If your loved one is mobile, ask about community trips for shopping, education, or entertainment. Group activities that encourage interaction among residents prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation, and a quality nursing home will provide ample opportunities for residents to engage in activity both on and off-site.
Elderly residents typically see doctors on a regular basis. Ask staff about how they handle visits from physicians, whether there is a resident doctor, on-site medical facility, or how they provide transportation to appointments. While some nursing homes have thorough on-site medical facilities, even basic facilities should have some form of emergency care available.
For residents with personal care needs, attentive and responsive staff is imperative to preventing medical complications. While bedsores, a common condition for the elderly, are sometimes unpreventable, bedsores that develop because of patient neglect are inexcusable. Bedsores may develop because of:
- Failure to assist residents out of bed regularly
- Failure to routinely rotate bedridden residents
- Failure to frequently wash and change bed linens
Falls are also common occurrences among the elderly, and can present extremely dangerous situations. Interview staff about procedures and policies regarding falls. No preventive steps and no communication with family members constitute additional red flags.
Signs of Abuse and Neglect
Nursing home facilities are for-profit businesses. As with any type of business, they may place a greater emphasis on profit, while others may place a greater emphasis on quality of care. The toughest challenges for nursing homes are usually employee shortages and turnover; however, this is no excuse for abuse or neglect. You are your loved one’s advocate. Know the following signs of possible nursing home abuse and neglect:
Physical abuse: Signs include suspicious bruises or signs of restraint, changes in behavior, and a caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors.
Neglect: Neglect includes possible dehydration, weight loss, or malnutrition. A resident’s necessities are missing; eyeglasses, hearing aids, or dentures, for example. The resident is dirty and the room unclean.
Emotional and verbal abuse: Shouting at or even ignoring a patient is abusive behavior. Watch for signs of an easily startled resident, or one who appears frightened at the sight of a caregiver.
Contact Our Florida Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
Entrusting your loved one to a nursing home, only to discover their abuse or neglect, is unacceptable. The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA holds accountable those who mistreat our senior citizens. If you suspect your elderly loved one is the victim of abuse or neglect, call (727) 451-6900 or contact us online for an immediate, free consultation.
Our award-winning attorneys believe the elderly residents of Clearwater and the surrounding area deserve a safe place to call home. Clients of The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have someone who puts you and your loved one’s interests first, and a powerful ally in the event of misconduct by an elder care facility.