Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect is all too common. Overworked and unqualified staff set in sub-par facility conditions often lead to various types of nursing home abuse and neglect ranging from malnutrition and dehydration to slips and falls, bed sores, and even physical and emotional abuse.
However, you can help prevent the chances of nursing home abuse by touring the assisted living facility you and your family are considering for a loved one.
As you tour the facility, keep in mind these six tips for choosing
The Right Nursing Home
Pay Attention to the Smell
Most nursing homes don’t smell 100 percent pleasant, 100 percent of the time. Due to the special needs of some residents, such as medications and diets, some residents may become gassier than usual. Also, residents are more likely to lose control of their bladders and bowels as they age.
However, overpowering smells around every corner you turn are unacceptable. These kinds of smells generally mean the care staff isn’t paying enough attention to, or reporting accidents among properly among residents, and that the maintenance staff isn’t cleaning often and well enough. Even more disturbing is that for those residents who must wear adult diapers, some of these smells could mean they’re not being changed frequently enough.
So, pay attention to the smells and try to determine whether they’re to be expected or if they’re beyond a reasonable level.
Listen to the Sounds
It’s not uncommon to hear moans or cries for help in nursing homes; many nursing home patients are elderly and suffer from memory loss and even Alzheimer’s or dementia, and sometimes they become confused and scared. Many are succumbing to the downward-spiraling symptoms of their diseases.
Do pay attention to their volume and frequency, as they could affect your loved one’s experience at the nursing home, but don’t be alarmed by them in general.
What you want to really listen to is how the staff reacts to these sounds. Do they ignore them? Are they too understaffed to see to them in a timely fashion? (See “Notice the Staff’s Behavior” below.) Do they seem frustrated and angry with the residents when they tend to them? Or, ideally, are they patient, polite, and caring toward the individuals?
Think about how you’d feel if you witnessed a staff member behaving that way toward your loved one, and go from there.
Ask to See a Typical Food Tray
Ask to taste it, too.
Don’t expect gourmet meals from every nursing home (depending on the nursing home, budgets don’t often allow award-winning chefs), but do expect decent-tasting, quality food and drink. Pretend you’re moving to the nursing home. Would you be satisfied with the food and drink? If it’s not good enough for you, chances are it’s not good enough for your loved one. Additionally, if she or he doesn’t regularly eat and drink, malnutrition and dehydration could become factors; two common examples of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Also find out how many meals and snacks are served each day, as well as how closely the staff members monitor food and drink intake. Again, malnutrition and dehydration are common types of nursing home abuse and neglect, and while failing to make sure a resident is eating and drinking enough might not seem abusive, it’s definitely negligent and grounds for terminating your relationship with that nursing home.
Notice the Staff’s Behavior
Just as you want to pay attention to how the staff interacts with the residents (see “Listen to the Sounds,” above), you also want to notice how the staff members interact with one another. Do their working relationships seem healthy? Are the staff members friendly toward one another? Does the staff member who gives you the tour gossip about other staff members? Remember, you’re bringing your loved one to a new home – not a high school. You want your family member to feel comfortable and at ease and not pick up on any personal matters among staff members. Staff member focus should be solely on your loved one.
Furthermore, look for any signs of the nursing home being understaffed. Does it seem like there aren’t enough staff members? Do the staff members on duty seem overworked and overstressed? Frazzled staff members become tired, angry, and negligent and are less likely to take proper care of nursing home residents than are those who have reasonable schedules and workloads.
Take Part in Afternoon Activities
It’s important that your loved one stay active at the nursing home. Too often, nursing home residents are left alone without encouragement to socially engage with others and keep their minds busy.
Talk to your tour guide about the kinds of afternoon activities in which your loved one can take part, and perhaps even visit the recreational area and explore the types of activities, classes, and other events available to residents.
Ask Questions about Resident Care
Above all else, make sure your loved one will receive top-notch care to prevent or treat any injuries sustained.
Some of the questions to ask your tour guide and other staff members include, but certainly aren’t limited to:
- How often do you reposition immobile residents to prevent bed sores?
- How do you treat bed sores?
- How long does it take to see a doctor, dentist, or optometrist for routine visits? What about unexpected or emergency situations?
- Outside of your own medical staff, what medical facilities does the nursing home use?
- How often do you report to me concerning my loved one’s health? Do I receive immediate notification following any injury my loved one sustains?
As you ask these questions in addition to others, pay attention to the staff member’s demeanor. Does he or she seem completely honest and transparent, or is there a hint of defensiveness and possible cover up?
Filing a Nursing Home Abuse Case
Have these tips come too late for you or someone you know? Do you have a family member or other loved one whom you suspect is suffering from nursing home abuse and neglect?
The time to act is now. Contact the law offices of Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton immediately for a free consultation involving your possible nursing home abuse case. Serving the Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach areas, Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton are skilled in representing all types of nursing home abuse and neglect cases, from malnutrition and dehydration to falls and bed sores. Give us a call at (904)-398-2212 or contact us online today.