Selecting A Nursing Home For a Loved One
Attorney Susan Bourque, Partner at Parker Scheer LLP provides some guidance for people who are considering placing their loved ones in a nursing home or long term care facility.
Oftentimes, I speak with families whose loved ones were injured or died at the hands of the people charged with caring for them. While great facilities with devoted staff do exist, there are also many understaffed facilities owned by large corporations with profit as their main goal, not patient care and safety.
Many elderly patients are at a higher risk of injury due to physical or mental disabilities that result in a difficulty or lack of mobility, varying degrees of dementia, and difficulty maintaining sufficient nutrition and hydration. While some injuries are unavoidable, there are also other injuries and deaths that could have been minimized or prevented with a more informed family prior to the placement.
Do your research.
There exist several websites and state and federal agencies that keep track of complaints and patient injuries and death at area long term care facilities. It is important to contact these agencies and request information on all potential facilities. Please go to Parker Scheer’s website, www.parkerscheer.com, for a listing of these agencies.
It is also important to ask pointed questions of all potential facilities. These facilities are quick to provide a glossy folder packed with glowing information about their facility that promises family what they want to hear – that their loved one will be well cared for and safe. I have no doubt but that these facilities would love to deliver on these promises, but it is usually impossible given the high patient to staff ratios and lack of skilled nurses on staff.
Also, many facilities are quick to promote their state or federal accreditation rating. Please keep in mind that facilities are notified of these “random inspections.” They usually have weeks to get their facilities in order. This process is not that vigorous and the facilities usually completely change their practices during the inspection and then revert back to their old ways once the inspectors pack up and leave.
Visit the potential facilities at random time.
Many families schedule a tour of the facilities where they are led around by an administrator to selected areas of the facility. These pre-planned tours are not a real snapshot of the facility. A better insight into the facility is an unscheduled tour. Be wary if an administrator turns you away for an unscheduled tour. They should not have time to get ready for your visit.
When you do visit, trust your instincts. Do the patients appear happy or content? Are they clean? Are many patients in a day room or other common area, or are most patients kept in their room? How does the staff appear? Do they appear friendly or stressed out? How many staff do you see? Do they provide organized activities for patients?
While you will never know with any certainty how your loved one will be treated, these visits do provide your best insight before the placement. Trust your instincts and ask pointed questions. Administrators should be open and happy to answer any questions you may have. If not, move on to the next facility.
About Attorney Susan Bourque: Attorney Susan Bourque is a Partner at Parker Scheer LLP. She specializes in complex personal injury cases with a focus on nursing homes abuse, neglect, and injuries.
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