BY: Jimmy Segura
Entrusting your loved one into the care of a nursing home can be a difficult choice. Although he or she cannot be left without care, there are thousands of tales of the abuse and neglect that have taken place in care centers all across America.
In 2005, approximately sixteen percent of nursing homes were reported to have “serious quality problems,” and even then it is not positive as to the accuracy of such a number. It is considered inaccurate due to “considerable understatement of quality-of-care problems.”
Your loved one is not a statistic, however, and this article will provide you with what to look for in nursing homes and what you should make sure to avoid.
The first, most important part of finding the right nursing home is to do research, both in person and on the web.
Look up the home’s most recent reviews, and examine the contents. Does anything look suspicious?
If the home has had multiple complaints about the state of the rooms, for example, you may want to consider moving on.
When you visit each candidate, ask for a tour and pay close attention to the residents and the caretakers. Are the nurses kind and attentive, or are they more interested in each other than their patients?
Attitude can be an important part of making your loved one feel comfortable and safe. If the staff does not seem to be interested in making their patients happy, you should keep looking. Being surrounded by tired, frowning people is going to have an effect on the way your loved one feels, which is one of the most important parts of finding the right nursing home.
Another way to sniff out problems is to use your nose—are there any particularly bad scents in the air, especially the smell of stale urine or feces?
If there is a particularly strong odor fermenting the air or if the air is heavily scented to try to cover up an odor, the nursing home may have hygiene problems.
Make sure you take a good look at the patients you pass. Are they happy and engaged? Does each patient have a nurse attending to them, or are there multiple patients being cared for by one member of the staff? How clean do the patients look? What kind of clothes are they wearing?
If the patients look dirty or unwashed, it may be a warning sign.
Do staff members take the time to help patients walk to and from meals and activities, or is everyone simply being wheeled around to make relocation faster?
Although basic care may be your primary concern, there are also other equally important factors to consider — such as the activities in which patients are taking part.
If there are no activities your loved one will enjoy or if the activities seem uninteresting and bland, you may want to choose a different home — especially if other patients do not seem to be enjoying the activities, either.
Food is one of the most important elements of a nursing home.
Make sure you visit at a mealtime so you can sample what kind of food is going to be served to your loved one.
As people become older, they begin to lose their appetites. If the taste and texture of the meals are disgusting, it may be difficult for your loved one to eat them.
If your loved one has special dietary needs, make sure those can be catered to. Check with staff members to make sure all meals are well-balanced and edible.
Finally, check in with your loved one at regular intervals (both in person and over the phone) to make sure all is well.
If they have taken a fall or become ill, you should be notified immediately of their condition and of what measures are being taken to nurse them back to health. If you discover belatedly that your loved one has had an accident or are not notified at all, ask the staff why you were not told what happened?
Make sure you visit regularly to gauge what kind of care your loved one has been receiving, and listen attentively to their concerns or complaints. If you file a complaint, make sure you check up on what is being done to rectify the situation.
If your loved one has already been treated unfairly or abused while in a nursing home, do not hesitate to hire a lawyer who can help you keep both your loved one — and any who many come after your loved one — safe.
If you have any unanswered questions, call (864) 271-2232 to ask Greenville attorney Jimmy Segura with the firm of Varner and Segura.
NOTE: Nothing above is offered as legal advice, and nothing above should be construed as a substitute for retained legal advice.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeffrey Smith / Distributed Under Creative Commons