The decision to find a nursing home for your parent or other loved one is often accompanied by a mix of emotions, financial concerns, and an overwhelming fear of making the wrong choice. While the vast majority of nursing home facilities have the best interests of their residents in mind at all times, there are exceptions to this rule. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), a study of 2,000 nursing home residents showed that 44 percent claimed they had been abused. Fortunately, there are multiple ways of safeguarding your loved one against elder abuse and neglect in a nursing home. Doing your homework before choosing a facility, and maintaining adequate communication with your loved one are key.
Tips for Selecting the Right Facility
Ask around. Chances are, you know several other people who have been down this road before. If their loved one has been in a nursing home for a while, and is very happy there, add that home to your list of potential candidates. Alternatively, you may hear negative reviews about a home you were seriously considering. Remember, people can have very unique, isolated experiences that shouldn’t necessarily condemn an entire facility. For example, that person’s loved one may have lived at the nursing home when a disgruntled ex-employee was still on staff. Ask questions, but don’t jump to conclusions. You can also ask doctors and social workers for opinions on good nursing homes.
Once you have a short list, visit potential candidates. First impressions can be extremely important. Is the facility clean? Do you notice any strong odors, such as urine or garbage? Do the common areas and rooms look cozy and comfortable? Do the residents appear happy? Ask about staff if they are current with all state licenses, and if the home has had any complaints or violations within the last few years. Talk to residents. Ask them if they like living there. It’s also helpful to speak with a few staff members. Do they appear to enjoy their jobs? How long have they been there? A low turnover rate is a good indicator of a pleasant working environment.
Location is important. If you are having difficulty deciding between two nursing homes, it may be wise to choose the one closest to you. A home that is convenient to get to will allow you to visit your loved one more and lessen the chances of the visits becoming a burden.
Ask about medical staff and emergency care policies. Is regular medical treatment and emergency care provided by on-staff doctors and nurses? What is the facility’s policy on physical and chemical restraints? Are regular eye and dental check-ups performed?
What are the facility’s staffing policies? Are background checks performed on staff members? How many staff members are present on each shift? Will one staff member be permanently assigned to your loved one?
Ask about and observe social activities and mealtimes. A full, diverse schedule of social, creative, and exercise activities is essential to the happiness and well-being of many seniors. Mealtimes provide another important opportunity to socialize with friends. Mealtimes should be pleasant experiences with a happy, social atmosphere and appealing, nutritious food.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys
Doing your homework before placing a loved one in a nursing home is the most effective way to make sure they are happy and well cared for. Unfortunately, a thorough inspection and regular communication and visits doesn’t always guarantee that everything will be okay. If you are concerned that your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, it is in your best interest to consult with an attorney experienced in these cases. The MA Law Firm of Altman & Altman understands the emotional complexities surrounding nursing home abuse cases. Our attorneys have nearly 50 years of experience fighting for the rights of our clients, including extensive work in elder abuse cases. Our legal team will help you understand your options, and will be right beside you throughout the entire process. Contact the Greater Boston Law Firm of Altman & Altman LLP for a free consultation about your case.