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People agonize over the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. But when the time comes and a family member’s medical needs and daily living needs can no longer be met by the family, no other choice remains. We trust that the people hired to care for our loved ones will show the same compassion and respect for our loved ones as we would.
Nursing home abuse and neglect should not occur. Bedsores should not occur. Patients with dementia should not be allowed to wander away from the facility. Falls resulting in broken bones should be prevented. Does it take vigilance to prevent falls and bedsores? Yes. Are special precautions required when caring for patients with dementia? Of course. Caring for the infirm requires dedication and a time commitment. But, that is why long-term care is so expensive.
Residents at risk for falls or pressure ulcers require special attention. Residents with dementia require special attention. Those facts should not come as a surprise to a nursing home or the people who staff it.
Care plans for residents at risk should specify the special measures being taken to prevent falls, pressure ulcers, and elopement (wandering away). Care providers should be required to implement and document the preventative measures. Unfortunately, nursing homes are often understaffed, leaving their employees responsible for more people than they can effectively care for. That understaffing means much-needed care is not provided.
If staff did not have time to make a note that an immobile patient was repositioned, do you really think they took time to reposition the resident? If your loved one is allowed to be in a wet or soiled brief when you are visiting, do you think they are getting better care when you are gone? Do not be afraid to demand that your loved one is properly cared for. The nursing home is paid to provide that care. The law requires that the care be provided.
Shouldn’t nursing homes actually provide the care they are paid for? We think so. We also believe they should be held accountable for the damages that result when they fail to follow the law and provide proper care.
You may be wondering what you can do to keep problems from developing or to eliminate problems you notice. First, tell someone what you are seeing. If your immobile loved one is not repositioned over the course of a two-hour visit, tell the charge nurse. If your loved one is in a soiled or wet brief, tell the charge nurse. If your loved one tells you they are often left in soiled or wet briefs, tell the charge nurse. But, don’t stop with telling the nurse. Write a short letter or email detailing the problem and send it to the administrator of the facility, ask that the situation be remedied and that you be informed of steps taken to fix the problem. Do this as often as you see problems. Keep copies of the letters or emails.
If you point out problems but fail to see changes for the better, consider changing facilities. If your loved one is injured, you should call the Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline. In Missouri, the number is 800-392-0210. You should also consult with an attorney experienced in handling nursing home abuse and neglect claims. At Davis George Mook LLC, we have decades of experience handling these claims. We would be happy to speak with you about your situation and advise you regarding possible options. We help families hold facilities accountable for failing to provide proper care. At the end of the day, we believe this will encourage nursing homes to provide better care for their residents. Call us today at 816-569-2629.