Based on data provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1.3 million people in the United States reside in nursing homes. As the number of senior citizens in this country grows, this number is only likely to rise. It’s up to you to consider all factors and safety precautions when selecting a nursing home for your loved one.
Unfortunately, given that nearly 70% of the 15,600 nursing homes in the United States are operated by for-profit companies, the chance of elder abuse and neglect is also likely to increase. This is because these companies often emphasize maximizing profits instead of providing the highest level of care possible.
One common shortcoming in nursing homes is inadequate staff, which can greatly increase the chances of abuse and neglect because there is not enough staff to adequately provide for each resident’s care. To reduce the chances of nursing home abuse, consider the following critical questions to ask when selecting a nursing home for your loved one.
The Type of Facility
While most nursing homes have the same goals, there are differences between facilities. Some factors to consider when selecting the type of facility for your loved one include:
- Whether the nursing home is Medicare and Medicaid certified. This is a critical question because Medicare certification is only given to nursing homes that pass state agency inspections.
- Whether the nursing home and its administrator are licensed in New York or the applicable state.
- Whether the nursing home offers specialized care. For example, some nursing homes specialize in helping people with Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Whether the facility is located close enough so family and friends can visit the resident.
- Whether the resident will be able to conform to the facility’s policies. The best nursing homes often clearly explain charges, fees, and services before a resident agrees to move there.
- Whether the resident is required to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of living at the facility.
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How the Facility Handles Safety and Care
It is critical to make sure that the facility you choose will be able to provide your loved one with a good chance of remaining safe. Some safety and care factors to consider include:
- Whether the nursing home takes action to improve quality or staffing issues at the facility.
- Whether residents are still permitted to see their own physicians. Provided the facility allows visits of this nature, it is also critical to make sure that the facility helps arrange for transportation to the medical provider.
- Whether the facility has an arrangement with any nearby hospitals.
- What state and federal inspection reports of the home reveal. This includes analyzing whether the report revealed problems or quality of care issues at the facility. It is also critical to determine if the nursing home facility remedied these issues.
Questions to Ask About the Nursing Home’s Staff
We place our faith in nursing home staff to adequately care for our loved ones. Some helpful issues to ask when assessing a facility’s staff include:
- Whether the staff knocks and announces before entering a resident’s room.
- How staff members address the resident and whether they refer to the resident by name.
- Whether the nursing home provides the staff with continuing education programs.
- Whether the facility provides licensed nursing staff that is available at any time of day? The facility should also have at least one registered nurse who is available at least eight hours a day every day at the facility. The facility should also have certified nurses aides who can help care for the residents.
- Whether the facility has a staff member who can meet each resident’s social services needs. These staff members should be easy to access.
- Whether the administrative staff has a high or low turnover rate. The facility’s administrator or director nursing should have been the facility for over a year.
- Whether the facility’s staff speaks the resident’s primary language.
The Nursing Home’s Appearance
A lot can be determined about the level of care offered at a nursing home through a careful examination of the facility’s appearance. Some important questions to ask when evaluating a nursing home’s appearance include:
- Whether the facility’s residents are appropriately dressed and well cleaned.
- Whether the nursing home has any unpleasant odors.
- Whether the nursing home is clean and properly maintained.
- Whether the facility’s temperature is suitable and its lighting adequate.
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Whether Living Spaces are Safe for Residents
While falls are one of the most common hazards for nursing home residents, many other hazards can prove dangerous to residents. Some critical questions to ask when assessing whether a facility is safe for residents include:
- Whether the facility’s furniture is comfortable and safe.
- Whether exits at the nursing home are clearly marked.
- Whether the facility has quiet areas for family and friend visitations.
- Whether the facility is equipped with smoke detectors and sprinklers.
- Whether common areas, doorways, and resident rooms are equipped for wheelchairs. Bathrooms and hallways in the facility should also be equipped with grab bars and handrails.
- Whether facility residents are permitted to have personal belongings and furniture in their rooms. Resident rooms should also be equipped with storage space. The best resident rooms also have windows as well as access for the internet, phone lines, and television.
- Whether residents are permitted to select their own roommates.
Food Options Provided at the Nursing Home
The best nursing home diets provide an adequate level of proteins and other nutrients to help keep residents thriving. Conversely, poor nursing home diets can quickly lead to serious complications including dehydration and malnutrition. To make sure the nursing home provides a sufficient menu, some important questions to ask include:
- Whether nursing home residents can select what they would like to eat at each meal.
- Whether the resident likes the food that the nursing home provides.
- For residents with special dietary needs, whether the nursing home offers food options that meet these goals.
- If the nursing home needs assistance eating and drinking food, whether the nursing home provides staff who can help the resident eat and drink.
How the Nursing Home Fosters Residents’ Bodies and Minds
Keeping active is critical to the well-being of nursing home residents. As a result, the best nursing facilities should provide programs that keep residents both engaged and moving. To make sure that residents are properly encouraged, some critical questions to ask about the nursing facility include:
- Whether the facility lets residents participate in various activities. The best nursing homes allow residents to both select and plan activities.
- Whether the nursing home has outdoor facilities for the residents to use. Staff should also be available to help residents go outside.
- Whether nursing home residents can decide when to wake up, go to sleep, and participate in hygiene activities.
- When the nursing home allows residents to have visitors.
- Whether nursing home residents can leave the facility or hours or days if they decide to do so. The nursing home should also have procedures in place for how residents leave the facility.
- Whether the facility provides residents with cultural and religious support.
Speak with a Long Island Elder Abuse Lawyer Today
While we hope that nursing home caregivers will watch over our loved ones, each year many senior citizens are harmed by elder abuse. If you need the assistance of an elder abuse attorney, do not hesitate to contact Cohen & Jaffe, LLP today. Free consultation.