Regular Visits to Your Loved One in a Nursing Home Can Identify Problems Early On
Family involvement is a crucial component of the personal and medical care of a loved one in a nursing facility. Regular visits to a loved one in a nursing home can ensure that you identify serious issues quickly, before they create catastrophic results.
Some of the most common problems occurring in nursing homes in America today include:
A Failure to Take Care Planning Seriously
The nursing staff cannot develop your loved one’s care plan without physician’s orders that follow established protocols. Family members have the right, and are encouraged, to participate in the development of their loved one’s care.
When your loved one is first admitted to the facility, the nursing staff and doctors will perform a comprehensive assessment of the resident’s condition within the first two weeks, and again at least once every year. There must also be an updated assessment if there is a significant change in your loved one’s health or the development of a pressure sore.
Family members, the responsible party, and residents are encouraged to attend every Care Plan meeting. If the nursing staff is not contacting you to help schedule a meeting, make a formal request.
Care planning is crucial to ensure that your loved one’s health is improved or maintained. Do not be timid. Remember, the nursing facility is paid thousands of dollars each month to provide the best care for your loved one, and the family should expect nothing less.
A Disregard of Resident Preferences
Your loved one is referred to as a resident, not a patient, at the nursing facility because he or she lives there. If your loved one wants to wake up at 6:00 AM, get bathed and dressed before breakfast, the nursing staff must reasonably accommodate the resident’s preferences.
Highly successful nursing facilities realize there are significant benefits, to all involved, to allow the family and residents to have more control. However, determining reasonability can be difficult. Your loved one should not be bound by a nursing home’s strict operating procedures.
Failure to Provide the Residents Necessary Services
The federal government enacted the Nursing Home Reform Law that provides nursing facility residents legal protection. By law, the nursing facility must provide every resident with all the necessary services and care required.
Some nursing homes claim that they do not have a sufficient amount of staff to provide care and want the family to hire a private duty nurse or aide to fill the void. As your loved one’s advocate, it might be your responsibility to make clear to the nursing facility that they have a legal obligation to follow regulations and provide necessary services and care.
Using Physical Restraint
Physical restraints can be any device that restricts your loved one’s freedom of movement. Restraints can be belts, vests, sheets, straps, or other devices that hold your loved one to the bed or wheelchair. Seatbelts are also considered physical restraints if the resident is unable to release the restraint without the assistance of others.
The Nursing Home Reform Law clearly states that nursing homes can only utilize physical restraints to treat a resident’s symptoms or medical conditions, under strict rules. Any use of restraints for the convenience of the nursing staff or facility is strictly prohibited and in direct violation of established state and federal laws.
If the doctor recommends the use of a restraint, the resident, family member, or legal representative must discuss the issue with the staff and administration during a Care Plan meeting. The resident must agree to use the restraint through a signed informed consent after discussing the pros and cons of using the device. The nursing home must examine every possible alternative before using the restraint and reassess the resident’s need for the restraint continuously.
All serious issues occurring in nursing homes can be avoided if the facility follows established protocols and hires the best staff. All nursing facilities have a Medical Director (Physician), who oversees the care of every patient. The staff will provide continuous medical care and hygiene assistance and follow the direction of an interdisciplinary team that involves doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and social workers.
The administration’s responsibility is to ensure the family understands all of the financial arrangements necessary to keep their loved one in a nursing home that provides the best quality of life.