Making the decision that a parent, spouse, or other loved one requires a level of care you cannot provide is typically not an easy decision to make. Once you have made the decision though, the next step is to choose a nursing home. Given some of the horror stories you have likely heard on the news about abuse and neglect at some facilities, choosing a nursing home may seem like a daunting task. After all, you are placing your loved one’s care in the hands of strangers. To help make your decision making process a little less stressful, the nursing home lawyers at German Law Group have put together some tips for finding the right nursing home.
Nursing Home Abuse – Fact vs. Fiction
Before you get started looking for a nursing home for your loved one it is helpful to separate fact from fiction regarding nursing home abuse and neglect. Sadly, nursing home abuse does occur – and far more often than most people realize. To get an idea of how serious the problem really is, consider the following statistics:
- Between 1999 and 2001, almost one-third of all nursing home facilities were cited for violations of federal standards that could cause harm, or that did harm elderly residents of those facilities;
- Nearly 10% of those homes had violations that posed a risk of serious injury or death, or that did cause deaths of elderly residents;
- More than 40% of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90% report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected;
- Research from 2010 indicates that up to half of all nursing home attendants have admitted abusing or neglecting elderly patients;
- More than half of all Certified Nursing Assistants (CAN’s) in elder care facilities have admitted verbally abusing, yelling at, and using foul language with elderly residents of care facilities.
While it is important to be aware of the prevalence of elder abuse within nursing homes across the country, it is equally important to focus on the fact that there are nursing homes that provide competent, compassionate care to their patients. The key, of course, is finding those homes.
Tips for Choosing the Right Nursing Home
Given what is at stake, it pays to take your time and utilize the following tips when you are searching for a nursing home for your loved one:
- Ask friends, family, and co-workers for a referral. Often, the best advice you can get will come from people you know who already have a loved one at a nearby nursing home, or even who have had a bad experience with a facility that you can then cross off the list.
- Use tools such as “Medicare Compare.” The Medicare Compare website is an official government website that allows you to compare the quality of nursing homes that are Medicare and/or Medicaid qualified. The website lets you search and compare nursing homes and provides ratings for categories such as staffing, quality measures, and health inspections.
- Check with the Ombudsman program. The North Dakota Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program investigates complaints about the care at nursing homes and advocates for residents. They can also provide you with information and referrals when you are searching for the right home.
- Schedule a visit. Once you have a list of three to five nursing homes that appear to be good options, schedule an official visit and tour. Prepare a list of questions to ask each facility ahead of time so you don’t forget anything important. Common questions you may wish to ask include:
- What is the staff/resident ratio?
- Is a physician on the premises 24/7?
- What social activities do they offer?
- What is their hiring process and do they conduct background checks on all new hires?
- What is the complaint process?
- Show up unannounced. Finally, plan an unplanned visit. An official visit will show you the nursing home in its best light. To see how the facility looks and operates when they are not expecting you. If possible, try and talk to current residents and/or staff while you are there as well.
Contact Nursing Home Lawyers
If you have additional questions or concerns about nursing homes, contact the experienced nursing home lawyers at German Law Group by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.
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