Caring for an aging parent or other relative can be extremely challenging. This is the main reason why more Americans have started entrusting nursing homes to care for their elderly family members.
In the United States, more than three million elderly are currently residing in a nursing home or other long-term care facilities.
It is estimated that approximately 40% of adults will be placed in a nursing home toward the end of their days. As the population continues to age, the number of elders in nursing homes will continue to increase.
While many elders are properly cared for, incidences of nursing home abuse have dramatically increased throughout the U.S.
Choosing a good nursing home that will treat your loved one right is extremely important and requires a thorough assessment and in-depth research.
Deciding on the Right Nursing Home
There are many resources that can provide referrals to nursing homes in your area. You can talk to your loved one’s doctor, a hospital discharge organizer, friends and/or neighbors who may have a relative in a nursing home. Make a list of all the nursing homes referred to you. Start researching and comparing all of the nursing homes on the list.
Medicare’s nursing home compare tool makes available a 5-star assessment system based on the most current conditions, including health inspections, quality of care, staffing and doctors, and an all-inclusive rating.
Additionally, you should get in touch with the nursing home ombudsman in your area. The ombudsman program is administered by the Administration of Aging. They serve as advocates for nursing home residents.
Ombudsmen provide data regarding how to find a nursing home and get quality care. Under the Older Americans Act, every state is obligated to have an ombudsman who is in charge of investigating all nursing home complaints and advocating for improvements. The ombudsman will be able to inform you which nursing home have had difficulties or received violations in the past.
Narrowing Down Your Choices
Upon narrowing your search, begin calling all of the nursing homes that you think are good choices.
Make sure that each of the nursing homes has a specific unit to facilitate any special needs your loved one may have. Ensure that the nursing home is equipped with any necessary medical equipment required to care of your loved one, such as a dialysis machine.
Inquire about all the details, including costs, whether or not they agree to take Medicaid patients, and if there are vacancies. You should also visit the all of nursing homes’ websites, if in existence, and complete a systematic google search of each home.
The next step is to visit all of your top choice nursing homes. Note all of your first impressions, as these are usually the most accurate and unbiased. At the nursing homes, you should pay close attention to the overall smell and cleanliness of the residence area.
Does the nursing home’s environment seem comfortable, homey, and welcoming? In addition, ask about the residents’ diet, including menu choices, and how dietary restrictions are handled by the staff.
How is the Staff?
Pay close attention to how you are relieved by all staff. Do staff members seem courteous and welcoming? Are the staff members alert, quick to respond, gentle, accommodating, considerate, and kind to all the elders? How does the quality of life and social engagement seem for the residents? Take extra time to listen to how the staff talks to the residents.
On one of your visits, inquire about the nursing home’s staff screening process. It is important to choose a residence that does a thorough background check on all staff members. Ask about the staff’s training practices, staff-to-patient ratio and the overall turnover rate for staff.
If the resident’s call-bell lights are constantly on, it shows that they have to wait for a response, this is a sign of short or overworked staff. It is projected that approximately 90% of nursing homes do not have adequate staff to suitably care for residents.
While abuse is not always intentional, it often arises when there is widespread negligence by nursing home staff and managers due to the understaffing of facilities.
Caregivers regularly work long shifts for modest pay and sometimes get frustrated with their jobs. Displeased staff can cause nursing homes to be full of unnoticed and ignored abuses.
Make sure that you are not hurried through the nursing home. The staff should be willing to show you anything that you would like to see.
It is also a good idea to talk with numerous residents and any of their family members who are around during your visit. Ask if the other residents are happy and pleased with the care received.
Trust your own eyes and ears more than what staff members tell you.
Before Deciding, Make Several Visits
You should take careful notes about the negatives and positives of every nursing home you visit, so you do not forget. If feasible bring your loved one with you because he or she may very well be the best judge.
Once you have selected your number one choice, you should visit the nursing home a number of times at various times of the day and on a variety of days of the week to get a comprehensive picture of the facility. Unexpected visits may catch staff off-guard and portray the most accurate conditions.
Be cognizant of your surroundings, other residents, family members, smells and sounds.
Medicare provides a useful checklist of different inquires to ask. It would also be useful to write out a list of additional questions you may have regarding the care your loved one will receive.
Ask if you can personally talk to the specific staff members who will be responsible for your loved one. During the staff interviews, did you have a good feeling?
Other Things to Consider
The chosen nursing home should be relatively nearby family and friends, so that they can visit frequently. Nursing home residents who get visitors often typically tend to receive better care.
In order to become a certified Medicare/Medicaid provider, a nursing home has to comply with 150 requirements. These requirements range from proper food storage to safeguarding residents from mental or physical mistreatment. The inspection is done by the State Survey Agency in order to evaluate a nursing home on all the requirements.
Contact an Experienced Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer in Virginia Beach
If you believe that your loved one was a victim of neglect or abuse at a nursing home, it is important to contact us as soon as possible.
Upon any indication of abuse, it is crucial that you take direct and urgent action to help your vulnerable loved one. We will swiftly support you in investigating and filing a negligence or nursing home abuse claim.
On top of recovering adequate compensation for any damages or harm, our mission is to stop nursing home abuse throughout the State of Virginia. Scott R. Barney is passionate about protecting elderly family members against continued abuse and neglect by holding those nursing homes accountable.