Choosing the right managed care facility is only the start of preventing elder abuse. Protecting your family members in a nursing home requires constant vigilance. Nursing homes can decline in quality, so it’s up to family members to visit relatives to make sure the facility is maintaining high standards. You don’t need to come in with a team of inspectors. Being mindful of the surroundings during regular visits can tell you a lot. Here are five things you should check when visiting a nursing home.
Physical State of Facility
Though looks can be deceiving, the appearance of a nursing home can give you some indication of the quality of care being given to the patients and the premises. If the facility isn’t clean or doesn’t smell fresh, it’s a sign that responsibilities aren’t being handled properly. An unclean nursing home could point to an understaffed facility or hygiene rules being ignored.
Besides the general cleanliness, pay attention to the other factors that affect the ambiance of the nursing home. For example, check to see if the temperature is set at a comfortable level. Take note of the lighting in the facility and noise levels in the dining room and the common area. These factors affect your family member’s health and enjoyment while they are in a nursing home.
State of Residents
Another way to gauge the quality of a nursing home is to look at the the state of their residents. For a start, the residents should be bathed and well groomed. Checking on the state of the residents also encompasses checking the activities and programs available to the nursing home residents. What kind of programs are there and are they being utilized by the residents? What activities are available for residents who are unable to leave their rooms. It’s also worth asking the staff how the events are chosen. In the best nursing homes, residents have a role in planning or selecting activities. Similarly, if a facility has an outdoor area for residents to use, is staff available to help those who want to go outside. Keeping track on the state of the residents and the efforts being made to keep them happy helps to ensure that a nursing home is maintaining the same standards you saw when you first visited.
The quality of care your family member receives at a nursing home depends entirely on their interactions with the staff. Watching how staff members interact with other residents while you visit gives you an idea of how they are treating your family member. The action of monitoring staff interactions is also crucial because nursing homes are always getting new employees. When visiting, make sure that staff members are interacting with residents in the way you expect. For example, you should expect the staff to knock on the door before entering a resident’s room, and they should be personable enough to speak to each resident by name. You should also check to see if staff members are responding to calls for help quickly. Make sure to talk to your family member in the nursing home about the staff interactions, in case the staff acts differently when there are no visitors around.
Menus and Food
Family members need to pay particular attention to the menus and food available to nursing home residents since it’s one of the easiest areas for a nursing home to relax their standards. A different vendor or new cooking crew could mean your family member isn’t getting the same quality of food service as they did before. Start by checking the available menus to see if residents have choices of various food items for each meal. If your family member has special dietary needs, such as low-salt or no-sugar-added diets, make sure these needs are being met. There should also be nutritious snacks available to the residents upon request. The quality of the menus and the food significantly affect the enjoyment of residents, so it’s vital that the nursing home maintains the quality of food service that you expect.
Safety and Care
The safety and care of their residents should be a nursing home’s top priority. Ensuring that the nursing home staff remains committed to that responsibility is an essential part of any nursing home visit. It’s when a nursing home starts to slack on safety and care that instances of elder abuse occur. Make sure the nursing home has an emergency evacuation plan posted and that regular fire drills are being conducted. Residents should be receiving appropriate preventive care, like getting a yearly flu shot, hearing screenings, vision tests, etc. The nursing home should have an arrangement with a nearby hospital for emergencies as well as a contract with an ambulance firm to help during an evacuation. You should also check their most recent inspection report to see if the corrections outlined in the report have been made.
These things may seem like a lot to look for during a visit to a nursing home, but it becomes easier once you know to look for these items. Being mindful of the nursing home environment can help prevent your family member from becoming a victim of nursing home abuse. If you have questions related to nursing home and elder abuse, contact the Law Firm of Steve Watrel, P.A. to schedule a free consultation.