Ensuring Optimal Nursing Home Care for Your Loved One

Elder CareTransitioning an elderly family member into a long-term care facility can be a stressful and emotional process. Doing your homework on where your family member will be residing will help you to make an informed decision on the best residence and care for your loved one. The most obvious concern of having a loved one in a nursing home is the potential for abuse.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), elder abuse is defined as any intentional abusive act or negligence by a caregiver or other trusted individual. There are many types of elder abuse including physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, and financial. The NCEA estimates that for every one case of elder abuse that is reported, at least five go unreported. In 2010, the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman investigated over 211,937 complaints.

In order to ensure the most comfortable and enjoyable experience for your family member while residing at a nursing home, consider the following as part of your planning.

Geographic Region-

How many nursing homes are available in your area? What will be the distance to travel for family members who will be visiting regularly? Of the nursing homes available, what are the differences and similarities between them?

Comparison-

Once you have a list of the possible care facilities, you should contact them to get specific information about their policies and procedures, and standards of operation (such as staffing levels and licensure).  The care facilities you’re considering will likely vary greatly in size. In what type of environment would your loved one feel most comfortable?  A visit to each facility you’re considering should be made. It may be best to schedule a visit ahead of time to ensure staff members are available to meet with you, to provide a tour, and to answer any questions you have. You may want to keep a notebook to write down questions you have prior to the visits and also to record the answers you receive. You can also use this checklist to assist you with recording the information.

There are many on-line tools you can use to find and compare nursing homes in your area.  Among them, the Nursing Home Compare tool is perhaps the most comprehensive. Upon searching each nursing home you’re considering, you will be provided with information about how that facility ranks in the areas of staffing, health inspections, and overall quality.

Insurance-

 What level of care will your insurance cover? Will there be out-of-pocket expenses associated? Be sure to get detailed information about the prices of all care facilities you’re considering. If planning for care for a loved one, you will need to assess his/her financial situation to determine that adequate funds are available if out-of-pocket expenses are expected.

Special Considerations-

Does your family member have any specific medical conditions that would require care above and beyond what is offered at the facilities you’re considering?  If so, make sure to inquire about their willingness and ability to make accommodations. Would there be extra costs associated with accommodations? For example, if your family member suffers from Alzheimer’s or has dementia; you may want to consider facilities that have some type of memory care unit.

What are your family members specific religious/spiritual needs? Are there services available to meet those needs? If not, can accommodations be made?

What level of family involvement is acceptable? Some facilities may have limited visiting hours or may only allow a certain number of visitors each week or day. Some families are able to have very regular contact and to be involved in the daily care of their family member. If so, make sure that level of involvement will be supported by the care team. On the other hand, if the family members are unable to be involved regularly due to geographic distance or other limitations, make sure that is communicated and supported as well.

If you or a loved one is the unfortunate victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, it is crucial to seek legal representation.  Hughes & Coleman is a nursing home neglect and injury law firm located in Kentucky. For more information visit the website www.NursingHomeNeglectlawyers.com.

Nursing Home Neglect: Numbers and Facts

Nursing HomeAccording to statistics from The American Association for Justice, a shocking 90 percent of nursing homes in the United States do not employ a sufficient number of qualified care professionals to provide an acceptable level of care for their residents. In addition, it is estimated that approximately 93 percent of all instances of abuse and neglect within nursing homes go unreported each year. These numbers serve to further support the need for more consistent regulations, improved monitoring and more stringently enforced legal repercussions for neglectful and abusive nursing home staff.

What Constitutes Nursing Home Neglect?

When many people consider the notion of neglect in a nursing home, they typically think of failure to address residents’ pain or cries for help, forgetfulness regarding medications, or simple disregard for residents’ well being in general. While these are certainly significant causes for concern, the issues that plague the nursing home industry are far more numerous and, in many cases, even more serious.

HelpGuide.org reports that negligence accounts for “more than half” of abuse cases reported in nursing homes in the United States. Negligence encompasses all forms of elder abuse that are determined to be the result of intentional or passive abandonment of duty regarding care. When a nursing home staff member intentionally denies a resident adequate care for any reason whatsoever, that resident has claim to compensation for negligence. If, for example, a nursing home patient’s condition or conditions become noticeably worse due to a lack of proper care, that patient and his or her family is entitled to their inalienable right to justice. If, however, no official complaint or report of negligence is filed, victims and their loved ones are left to endure the circumstances without assistance.

Signs of Nursing Home Neglect and Elder Abuse

Neglect and abuse that takes place within a nursing home setting can take many forms. Even if the victim of the abusive behavior is not able to speak up and make a stand against his or her caregivers, concerned family members can take steps to correcting the situation through careful observation and consistent monitoring of activity that occurs.

Some of the most common forms of elderly neglect in nursing home facilities include the following:

  • Isolation – In order to punish a resident for any action that the staff sees as undesirable, inhumane acts of isolation have occurred. This includes keeping the elderly resident locked within his or her small room away from other residents, even during community hours. The emotional and mental toll that this can have on an elderly person can prove extremely serious and detrimental to overall health.
  • Ignoring – Ignoring the emotional and physical health needs of a resident can include everything from simply pretending the individual does not exist, even while the staff member is present in the room, to choosing to forgo medication dosages and changing of linens or clothing.
  • Emotional Abuse – During a period in their lives in which they are away from family and friends for the majority of the time, elderly residents in nursing homes require regular interaction, conversation and emotional stimulation in order to stay happy and healthy in their later years. Staff members who consistently speak in harsh tones or with profane language to their charges can cause significant psychological damage over time, leading to a potential decline in health in their residents.

Family members who notice signs of abuse in their elderly relatives are advised to report any suspicious activity immediately and to seek out legal counsel in order to determine an effective course of action that aims to solve the problem and repair any damage sustained.

Hughes & Coleman is nursing home neglect and injury law firm located in Kentucky.  For more information, please visit www.nursinghomeneglectlawyers.com.