Worried that your loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home? Here are some tips to help ensure your loved one is getting the best care possible:
1. Vary the timing of your visits. If you typically visit the nursing home on weekends, mix things up and show up during the week, preferably around meal times so that you can ensure your loved one is being fed warm, palatable meals in a timely fashion. If you usually stop by after work, change your pattern and come by on your lunch break or after dinner. By changing up the timing and frequency of your visits, you will not be expected by the nursing home staff and thus you will get a truer picture of your loved one’s care and treatment.
2. If you have concerns about care or treatment, communicate them, not only to the nursing home staff, but also to the nursing home’s management team. Ask questions and write down what you are told. Then follow-up by requesting meetings with the nursing home’s administrator (a/k/a executive director) and director of nursing. Make a list of questions and concerns to address at the meeting. Take notes at the meeting of management’s response to your questions and concerns. Schedule a follow-up meeting to ensure that any promises to address care deficiencies have been fulfilled. If there is something that concerns you, document it with a photograph.
3. You may also try contacting the State Ombudsman. The State of Tennessee has established a Long-Term Care Ombudsman program to provide assistance to elderly nursing home residents and their family members. The Ombudsman is available to assist nursing home residents in resolving questions or problems at the nursing home. The Ombudsman is a State employee and acts as a liaison between the nursing home and its residents. The nursing home should be able to give you contact information for the Ombudsman.
4. Report suspected abuse or neglect to the State of Tennessee. Signs of abuse or neglect may include frequent unexplained injuries, malnutrition, dehydration, begging for food and water, poor hygiene, fear of being alone with caregivers, complaints of sexual contact, recurrent falls, bedsores, and billing for services that were not actually performed, just to name a few. Incidents of elder abuse often go unreported. If you suspect that your loved one has been neglected or abused in a long-term care facility, call Tennessee Adult Protective Services at 1.888.277.8366. Once you reach the point of reporting neglect or abuse to the state, you may also want to contact an attorney.
5. Communicate your concerns to the nursing home’s owner/parent company. Many nursing homes are owned by large corporate chains. With nursing homes that are part of a corporate chain, there is usually significant oversight by the parent company. Use this to your advantage. Most for-profit nursing homes will have a corporate hotline available for residents, family members, and employees to call to anonymously report any concerns they may have about the care or conditions at the nursing home. The calls to the corporate hotline are usually answered at the corporate office and typically trigger an investigation by the parent company or its regional office into the issues communicated during the call. The nursing home’s management team will typically investigate the concerns relayed during the call and report to their bosses their findings and proposed solutions.
6. Consider moving your loved one to another facility. If you are worried about neglect or abuse at a nursing home, call and see what other facilities are available. Typically, it is easiest to move your loved one to another facility from a hospital stay. The case managers or social workers at the hospitals are there to assist with placement at another facility. Be sure to research the facilities recommended by the hospital case managers. Do not just accept placement at another nursing home merely because a bed is open. A good starting point for researching nursing home performance is to check the nursing home’s Medicare rating. Also tour the new nursing home to ensure that it is somewhere you would trust your loved one to live.
7. If your loved one experiences a significant injury as a result of abuse or neglect at a nursing home, contact an experienced attorney. Our attorneys are dedicated to fighting for the rights of the elderly and would be happy to provide you with a free consultation regarding your potential claim. The attorneys here at the Jehl Law Group, PLLC have represented hundreds of victims of nursing home abuse and neglect over the years.