When you’re faced with the idea of putting your loved one in a nursing home, it’s already heart-wrenching, but hearing all of the stories out there about nursing home neglect and abuse can make the whole thing terrifying.
There’s no question that nursing home neglect and abuse are far too common, but you can take steps to protect your loved one from harm.
Do some footwork in advance
You may have limited choices in nursing homes based on your location, your loved one’s condition and needs and the financial issues involved, but you need to look at all of the options very carefully. Don’t pick a nursing home at random simply because it’s closest to your home or on your sibling’s way home from work.
Instead, make an in-person visit to all the nursing facilities on your list and observe the living conditions of the residents. Check to see if the staff seems alert and attentive to patients’ needs and whether the facility is clean and well-maintained. If it’s a Medicare-rated facility, be sure to check Medicare.gov to look at each facility’s rating on staffing, health inspections and the quality of patient experiences.
Remain visible and involved
Once you’ve decided on the right facility, the most important thing you can do to prevent neglect or abuse is to be visible and involved in your loved one’s care. Check in with your loved one regularly, whether that’s by phone or via video chats. This not only helps decrease social isolation for nursing home residents, but it gives them the ability to discuss how they feel about their treatment. In-person visits are also important. If the nursing home staff is conscious that you may drop in without notice at any time, there’s less likelihood that your senior will end up neglected, abused or exploited.
If you do suspect that your loved one’s care is being mismanaged or that they’re the victim of neglect or abuse, speak up. Alert the nursing facility’s management and file a report with the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. If your loved one is injured, it may also be time to consider learning more about your legal options.