It’s always unsettling to turn the care of your loved one over to what feels like a stranger. After all, no one knows them and loves them like you do. Rest assured there are countless top-notch nursing home facilities available that have the expertise and skill to ensure your loved one will be in excellent hands. There are also, however, horror stories about how things went terribly wrong. Medical mistakes, abuse and nursing home neglect are all too common.
If your loved one is in a nursing home, it is important to remember that they still need you to look out for them. Even though someone will be handling their daily care, you still have an important role: you will be their eyes and ears and can help monitor their care and condition. It is important to be aware of warning signs that they aren’t being cared for properly.
Taking a proactive role in your loved one’s care is essential. Here is our 6 step plan that we recommend you adopt to ensure your loved one receives the care they deserve:
1. Do Your Research
Thoroughly research the facility you are considering. Beyond the sales pitch and brochure, it is important to go visit the facility. Drop in at different times of day and off hours to get a better sense of how the place is run.
Also, know that Medicare and Medicaid contract with many of these facilities and conduct inspections. The past 3 years of inspection reports should be available at the facility.
2. Use Your Senses
Use your sense of sight, sound and smell to monitor what is going on at the nursing home. Do things look and smell clean? If there is the occasional bad smell, does it persist for any length of time? Is it a quiet, peaceful environment, or loud and chaotic? A nursing home is somewhat of a dynamic environment, so an occasional incident is understandable. If any negative signs appear to be a constant issue, they should be addressed.
3. Physical and Mental Well-being
You know your loved one better than anyone else. It is important to be watching for anything that seems different or unusual with your loved one. Do they appear to be maintaining their weight and being as active as possible given their condition? Are they eating and bathing, and do they appear otherwise well taken care of? Watch for changes in their attitude and behavior. Are they strangely quiet or reserved? Agitated or fearful?
Many nursing home incidents occur because there was simply not enough staff to go around. When you visit, observe if there is enough staff there to accommodate the patients. If you go on a Saturday night or Sunday afternoon, is there still adequate help?
How is your loved one being treated? Are they being called by their name and otherwise treated with dignity and respect?
6. Keep Detailed Notes
It is a good idea to keep an ongoing journal of your observations. This includes the date and time of your visit and any observations. This will not only help you identify any potential problems with your loved one’s care, but, should a problem arise, you will be armed with an accurate record.
Your role as a caregiver of your loved doesn’t end with their going into a nursing home. In many ways, your job is more important than ever. Should you suspect a problem has occurred and your loved one has been hurt as a result, come in and speak with us. We can help you sort out the details of the case and talk about what legal options may be available to you.