Nursing Home Red Flags
Whether you are faced with the challenging decision to place someone you love in a nursing home, or whether someone you love is already in a nursing home, there are some important nursing home red flags to look out for.
Many families struggle with the decision to place someone they love in a nursing home. A lot of the families with whom we talk to here at The Dickson Firm have guilt about placing someone they love in a nursing home instead of caring for that person themselves.
No one should feel guilty for placing a loved one in a nursing home. First and foremost, nursing homes should be safe places for their residents where their needs are met, they are provided the care that they require, and they are treated at all times with dignity, respect, and kindness. In fact, there are laws that require this.
In Ohio, there is a body of law known as the Nursing Home Residents' Bill of Rights, which requires nursing homes to treat their residents with dignity and respect. It is unfortunate that the State of Ohio legislature had to pass a law legally requiring nursing homes to treat their residents with dignity and respect, but it was necessary and the law does exist.
Unfortunately, there are a large number of nursing homes in Ohio that do not treat their residents with dignity and respect. They do not provide their residents with proper care. They neglect and abuse their residents. Sadly, we talk with families every day about these situations.
Choosing a Nursing Home
So how can you choose the proper nursing home for your loved one? And if your loved one is already in a nursing home, how can you know if they are receiving proper care?
First and foremost, please do not feel badly if your loved one needs nursing home care. Many nursing home residents require care that their families simply cannot provide. Many residents require supervision at all times, which families can oftentimes have trouble providing. If your loved one requires supervision and cannot be left at home by themselves then they need to be in a nursing home where they can get the constant care and attention they need.
Nursing homes are legally required to have an adequate number of properly trained staff to provide their residents with adequate supervision and to give them the care that they need.
Though it can be very difficult, the decision to not put someone in a nursing home may put that person at risk. If they can't be left at home unattended safely, they should be in a nursing home where they're getting the care that they need.
A great resource with respect to choosing a nursing home, or for looking into whether or not the nursing home where your loved one already is a resident is providing good care, is the Medicare website. Click here to access a list of all the nursing homes in Ohio. You can search nursing homes geographically, check the five-star rating of each nursing home, and see how large they are. You can also see if they're owned by a for-profit corporation or if they are owned by a nonprofit, if they've had past penalties, and the evaluation of their care.
Once you have done the research and you've selected a few nursing homes to look into for your loved one, you should definitely pay a visit to each facility.
Be On The Lookout For Nursing Home Red Flags
One of the red flags is a popcorn machine in the lobby. Why would a popcorn machine be a red flag? The reason is that the smell of freshly popped popcorn is very strong and nursing homes often put a popcorn machine in the lobby to cover up other smells. Sadly, these are often the smells of neglect. The popcorn could be covering up nursing home residents who are not being kept clean, or residents who are incontinent and are not being changed on a regular basis.
As you visit each nursing home, be sure to tour the facility. Visit at different times of the day and take note of if there are adequate numbers of staff present.
Another significant red flag to look for in a nursing home is lack of staffing. Do you see multiple residents unattended? Do you see residents in the dining room with very few staff helping them and supervising them? Do you see multiple staff on the floor? Do you see staff helping residents?
Staffing is one of the most significant factors in providing appropriate care to nursing home residents. If the nursing home has proper staff, it greatly increases the likelihood that the residents are receiving proper care. If the nursing home is understaffed, it is virtually impossible to provide the residents with appropriate care.
Talk with the Administrator of the facility as well as the Director of Nursing. If these people are at the facility and available to you, that is a good sign. If these people are unavailable, that should be a concern. Nursing homes need supervision. They need management. They need senior staff members to be in place providing appropriate care.
What If My Loved One Is Already a Resident of a Nursing Home?
If someone you love is already in a nursing home, sit in their room and push the call button. See how long it takes the staff to respond. If no one comes for an extended period of time, that is a very serious concern. That may mean the nursing home is understaffed. Further, if you have an issue, ask to speak with the supervisor on duty at that time.
Once again, visit it at different times. Visit early in the morning. Visit in the evening. Ask for the supervisor in the evening. See who is working at the nursing home. Unfortunately, many nursing homes don't have supervision at various times. At all times, you should be able to talk with an LPN at a minimum. At most times, there should be an RN on duty at the nursing home who can address your concerns.
Is the nursing home clean? Are the floors clean? Is laundry done on a regular basis? Are your loved one's linens clean? Do they change the sheets and the bedding on a regular basis? Do they keep your resident’s clothes clean?
Visit during mealtime. Are the residents getting assistance with meals? Is the food hot?
Always examine the condition of your loved one. Are they being kept clean? Are their nails well maintained? Is their hair brushed and taken care of? Do they seem clean to you? Are they kept in clean clothes? Are they bathed often? And if they have any kind of injury or wound, is that being attended to? Are dressings changed on a regular basis? Does your loved one ever seem dirty or neglected? Are they ever not changed promptly? If their dressings are not changed promptly, these are all significant red flags of poor care.
Worried About Nursing Home Red Flags? Contact a Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorney
There are good nursing homes in Ohio where nursing home residents receive proper care. There are also terrible nursing homes in Ohio where the residents are neglected and abused.
If someone you love has been neglected or abused in a nursing home, please call us at The Dickson Firm at 1-800-OHIO-LAW, as we would be happy to talk with you and help you in any way that we can.