So, you have made the difficult decision to place someone you love in a nursing home. You are concerned that they are getting appropriate care. What can you do? Here are some tips to help you keep your loved one safe.
One of the things you can do is visit often and talk with the staff. Visit at all different times. You are entitled to visit your loved one at any time you choose. There are no visiting hours at a nursing home. Nursing home residents have rights and one of their rights is to see their family whenever they like. Visit in the morning. Visit in the middle of the day. Visit at dinner time. Visit in the evening. Visit during meal times and see what the procedure is. Visit in mid-morning. Find out what time your loved one is awakened and showered and dressed. What time do they get breakfast, lunch, dinner? What type of activities are they involved with during the day? Try to meet as many staff members as possible. Observe how many staff members you see at different times of the day. Sit in your loved one’s room and push the call light. See how long it takes for the staff to respond. Try this at different times of the day. Try this in the evening. If you are sitting with your loved one at 9:00 p.m. and you push the call light, are there enough staff there at 9:00 p.m. to respond quickly. This is essential.
One of the most important things that nursing homes must do is be able to properly respond to their residents. If your loved one cannot walk safely on their own, for example, then it is imperative for the nursing home to promptly respond to their alarm or sensor. Often nursing homes use alarms and sensors to keep people safe who cannot walk safely on their own. These sensors are pressure pads that go on a chair or a bed. If a person sitting on a chair or laying in the bed tries to get up and takes their weight off the pad, an alarm sounds alerting the staff that the resident is trying to get up. Sometimes the nursing homes use clip alarms where a clip attaches to the back of the person’s clothing which is then attached to a string which then goes to a magnet on the base of the alarm. If the person moves and pulls the magnet off the base, an alarm sounds. The nursing home is responsible for immediately responding to that alarm because it is a signal for them that someone who cannot walk safely on their own is trying to get up. You should see how long it takes the staff to respond to your loved one’s alarm or to their call button at all different times of the day. If your loved one’s alarm goes off at 10:00 at night and no one comes for 5 minutes that is more than enough time for your loved one to get up and attempt to walk and potentially fall down.
The mortality rate for elderly people who suffer fractures is incredibly high. It is very likely that an elderly person who suffers a fall at a nursing home will suffer an orthopedic fracture which may require them to have surgery. This puts their life in danger. Fall prevention in a nursing home is literally a matter of life and death. It must be taken seriously. You should be satisfied that the nursing home is treating fall prevention as a matter of life and death.
Has your loved one developed a wound since they have been at the nursing home? It is important that you monitor the progression of that wound. Often people at nursing homes develop bed sores or pressure sores. Sometimes someone who lives at home, independently, suffers a fall which results in an injury which needs surgery. And thereafter, that person is placed in a nursing home for a short period of rehabilitation or respite care. If that person cannot move themselves because they have suffered this recent injury, then the nursing home staff must move them. They should be turned and repositioned every two hours. If they are not, pressure sores can develop, often on their buttocks, in their sacral area, sometimes on their heels etc. Diabetics are particularly prone to suffering pressure sores at their extremities.
Nutrition plays an important role in preventing pressure sores as does turning and repositioning the resident every two hours. If someone develops a pressure sore in a nursing home, it is imperative that that wound be monitored closely. The worse the wound gets the less likely it is that that wound will ever heal. Pressure ulcers are classified based on stages, Stage 1 through Stage 4. A Stage 1 ulcer could simply be a reddened area. A Stage 4 ulcer is an open wound that can go all the way to the bone. Many Stage 4 ulcers never heal. Therefore, it is imperative, that if your loved one begins to suffer an ulcer, that that ulcer is not allowed to progress.
Often issues of modesty prevent family members from finding out if their loved one has suffered a wound. Often these wounds occur on the buttocks or in the sacral area. It is certainly not typical for someone to inspect their parent’s buttocks during a visit to a nursing home. However, it is very important that you are aware of all changes in the condition of your loved one. You are entitled to know if there is any significant change in their condition. If there is any significant change in their condition, you are entitled to immediately be contacted. In addition to visually inspecting your loved one for injuries or wounds, you should also have constant communication with the staff at the nursing home.
You should ask the staff at the nursing home if your loved one has developed any wounds or bed sores or had any other problems. Often a resident’s health deteriorates at a nursing home. Many nursing homes will tell the family that this is typical, that it is caused by age or illness or some other reason. Many times this deterioration is avoidable, reversible. Often this deterioration is simply caused by neglect. The person’s nutritional needs are not being met. The person’s psychosocial needs are not being met. Good nursing care can lead someone to fully recover from an injury and return home. Bad nursing home care can lead to severe injury and even death.
If you suspect that someone you love has been neglected or abused in a nursing home, please call at The Dickson Firm at 1 (800) OHIO LAW to speak with Blake Dickson. We will be happy to talk with you and help you in any way that we can.