Given that people are now living well into their 80s and commonly, their 90s and 100+ years of age, nursing home placement is a valid option for seniors. Family members may wish to conduct a thorough investigation before selecting a place to live for their aging loved one. We suggest doing the following:
- Conduct several physical walk-throughs of the facility with at least one or two unannounced visits being on different days/times,
- Make note of facility staffing levels and responsiveness of caregivers at random times.
- Observe the overall cleanliness conditions of the facility.
The leading cause of abuse and neglect in nursing home is insufficient staffing. You may want to pay particular attention to the number of staff members and the adequacy of their response time and effectiveness when responding to assistance requests from elderly residents, especially those with significant health issues.
Our friends at Montlick & Associates also suggest the following:
An effective pre-placement investigation also might include interviewing the administrator about hiring practices and background check; minimum and average staffing levels; procedures to prevent falls, pressure sores, infection or wandering; procedures to ensure proper nutrition, hydration and medication; and other issues related to safety and quality of care. A valuable resource that you may wish to consult is Medicare.gov Nursing Home Comparison Website. This site provides detailed reviews, comparisons and inspection histories for nursing homes that accept Medicare.
Confirm Implementation of Safety Protocols: Nursing homes generally are required to implement special procedures for elderly residents that suffer from physical or mental impairments that pose a greater risk of injury. Family members should inquire about such special procedures if a love one has limited mobility, or an aging family member is prone to falls or wandering. The administrator usually will outline such special safety precautions during the intake process. It may be advisable for family members to follow-up regarding these special procedures to ensure they are actually implemented.
Once you finally do settle on a nursing home, be alert for and follow up on unexplained injuries or changes in mood. While there are innocent explanations for bruises, dislocations, abrasions, broken bones or depression, any injuries or sudden changes in behavior or mood by a senior merit closer examination. While it can sometimes be difficult to determine the cause of such injuries or changes in personality if an elderly nursing home resident suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to pay careful attention to these signs. If serious or repeated injury occurs, this may constitute an even greater cause for concern.
All sound advice and remember, the elderly deserve our appreciation, attention and guardianship as they enter the twilight moments of their lives. Quality of life is important at every age in life.
BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.
As always, stay safe.