Nursing home abuse can play an extremely daunting role in where, when, and even if we decide to place our loved ones in a long term care facility. Trends of abuse, negligence, theft, and fraud seem to be taking over an industry that should be known for it’s kindness, compassion, benevolence, and dependability.
Choosing a nursing home can be overwhelming and scary, so the best way to go about the task is to be prepared and know exactly what to look for in a good and trustworthy nursing home. Below are six steps you can take to ensure that you are choosing the right facility to trust with the care of your loved one.
Steps You Can Take to Prevent Nursing Home Abuse
Step 1: Ask for documentation that will prove that the facility employs regular background checks to ensure that employees of the facility have no record of violent, sexual, or financial crime. Verify that employees are in good standing with the law and that they have the proper credentials to be working in this field. A nursing home in good standing and employing qualified workers will have no problem turning this paperwork over. The National Association on State Units on Aging reported that “An increased risk of abuse is found at nursing homes that have a history of serious noncompliance, particularly if abuse has occurred in the facility in the past.”
Step 2: Request information verifiying the minimum staff to patient ratio, how many hours per week employees work (including max overtime), and leave instructions to notify you should these policies change. Overworked employees are a huge source of abuse and negligence in nursing homes. Make sure the people caring for your loved ones are not responsible for too many patients for too long. The probability of abuse increases as staff to patient ratio decreases.
Step 3: With regard to step 2, verify the number of patients in the home with dementia, and who are physically dependant on nursing home staff. A high number of dementia patients should be accompanied by high number of employees. According to a report done by the National Center of Elder Abuse, nursing home abuse is more common in facilities that are home to a high number of demetia patients, as their required care is far more demanding.
Step 4: Ask about the facilities grievance policy. What is their protocol for reporting complaints? Is it policy to retaliate against staff members who report abuse? What about a patient who reports abuse? Facilities should offer anonymous reporting options to both staff and patients, and investigate all complaints thouroughly.
Step 5: Ask about the facility’s training policy, and whether or not it offers ongoing abuse prevention courses, as well as other courses to keep staff up to date on the newest and best methods of care. The Department of Health and Human Services reports “Besides improving competence and knowledge, training also offers a vehicle for building [staff] self-esteem, which also may help to reduce stress and burnout.” The report also states that ” . . .training can also prepare staff to respond appropriately to difficult situations, such as dealing with physically combative residents, which have the potential to trigger abuse.”
Step 6: Visit often and unannounced. Nursing home abuse is much more likely to occur to patients who do not have visitors, as there will be no consequence if no one is there to find out. If your visits are unannounced and frequent, staff members responsible for the care of your loved one will be forced to “stay on their toes,” providing the best possible care for the resident.
If Nursing Home Abuse Occurs
Nursing home abuse is an awful thing to deal with, and facilities that employ abusive tactics toward residents, or put profits before patients must suffer the consequences of this behavior. The long term care industry is a necessary one, as most of us are not qualified to care for our elderly loved ones when they get too sick to care for themselves. This industry needs to be one we can trust in. If you or a loved one have been negatively affected by nursing home abuse or negligence, you’ll need the help of a nursing home abuse attorney. Contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation, or call for a free consultation at 856-833-0600 in New Jersey, or 215-567-2380 in Philadelphia. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve.