Using The Law To Make Your Life Better

Nursing Home Abuse: Choosing a nursing home

David Sexton

srpthumb-p2705-450x260-no.pngChoosing a nursing home can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, especially knowing that you are making a crucial decision for your loved one. If you are in the process of choosing a nursing home, or know you will be in the situation of choosing a nursing home soon, this blog post is for you.  This three-part blog post will cover choosing a nursing home, then detail the day-to-day issues residents of nursing homes face, and will end with the legal issues you or your loved one could face when dealing with a nursing home.

The single most important thing to understand when choosing a nursing home is that what you see is not always what you get! Nursing homes spend thousands of dollars (sometimes even hundreds of thousands!) on marketing their facility to convince you they are better than all the rest.  It is not uncommon for nursing homes to spend a lot of money making sure the exterior is beautiful and the waiting area is comfortable, but to skimp on the areas where the residents live.  One thing to be very suspicious of is if the nursing home staff shows you to a "demo room" and does not actually show you where the residents live.  Just like when you look for a new apartment or house and you are shown a "model unit" only to discover the actual place you are buying or renting is empty, sometimes much smaller, and maybe even an older unit without all the fancy new features you thought you were going to get.  The same is true for nursing homes.  One model room that looks glamorous is not indicative of the actually room your loved one may be staying in.

How can you be sure what you see is what you get? When you go visit the nursing home, walk through the entire facility, not just the areas meant for guests.  It should be a red flag if the nursing home staff will not let you see any areas other than the entrance, waiting area and a demo room.  If you do get the opportunity to walk throughout the entire facility, pay attention to how the other residents look and act:

  • Are the residents interacting with each other?
  • Do residents seem happy?
  • Are the residents alone or separated, even during times they should be able to interact?
  • Do the residents seem over medicated?
  • How is the staff interacting with residents?

What you want to look for is whether the nursing home you are visiting is just "putting on a show" for potential residents and their families.  Remember that a pretty exterior does not mean that nursing home is the best fit for your loved one.

That leads us to the next key factor for choosing the right nursing home: location, location, location.  The right location is important for real estate and it's just as important for finding the right nursing home.  Choose a nursing home in a nice, safe area. Remember: where the nursing home is located will determine the pool of employees.

Now that you have found a nursing home in a prime location and that looks like it is desirable in all of the living areas, it's time to determine what type of employees are working in the nursing home.  Poor staffing is a widespread problem and is the root of nursing home abuse. States mandate the number of employees required per patient in the nursing home.  Unfortunately, many nursing homes are understaffed, mainly during the nights, weekends and holidays.  The prime time for abuse against residents is when the nursing home is understaffed. Less eyes around means more of an opportunity for abusive employees to commit horrendous acts.

Keep in mind, the nursing home is a place to care for the elderly, but it is also a business.  The more residents a nursing home has, the more money the facility makes.  Therefore, it stands to reason that nursing home staff will say anything they need to in order to get your loved one to register with their facility.   Be careful when speaking with nursing home staff who are seeking to recruit your loved one.  Be skeptical and critical and do not just take what they say as the truth.  Look online for reviews of the nursing home and ask other residents and their families what they think of the care they are receiving.

As you choose a nursing home for your loved one, remember to inspect the facility thoroughly.  Make sure the nursing home is in a safe neighborhood with good employees.  Doing a bit of research before choosing a nursing home could prevent abuse towards your loved one.  Remember the saying "not all that glitters is gold" as you interview potential nursing homes.

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