Watching your parents, grandparents, and other loved ones age is no easy thing, especially once their ability to care for themselves is called into question. You should at least be able to trust that if you choose to sign your loved one up to become a resident in a nursing home, they are receiving the best possible care. This, unfortunately, is not always the case. While there are many nursing homes that get excellent reviews both in patient care and patient happiness, nearly 40% of nursing homes in Illinois have shockingly low ratings. So, what questions should you ask when selecting a nursing home for someone you love?
Staff Numbers and Experience
There are over 15,000 nursing homes in the United States–and over 1,200 in Illinois alone–with the number seeming to slowly and steadily increase each year. With this growing demand for elderly care facilities, there is a growing need for nurses and other workers to help run these establishments. Some nursing homes that struggle to meet staffing requirements are pushed to a point of desperation, hiring any warm body that can pass a background check to fill caretaker positions, instead of holding out for the right candidate for the job.
Hiring employees who lack the proper experience in both the fields of health care and caregiving can highly increase the probability of mistakes and have very severe–even potentially deadly–consequences for residents. In fact, some of the most common causes of wrongful death or injury in nursing homes are related to staff incompetence. Some examples of this include medication errors; in which staff members mix up or lose the patient’s medication, which can lead to serious health effects and run the risk of worsening a patient’s condition, even to the point of death, or physical care errors; like failure to properly maintain patient hygiene or failure to keep patients from becoming too sedentary, which can lead to painful skin conditions like rashes and bed sores. If these types of conditions are not properly treated, they could lead to infection and even death.
If you want to prevent your loved ones from having to suffer through anything like this, be sure to ask any potential nursing homes what their hiring process is like, what kind of certifications or experience they require for their employees, and what kind of steps they take to train their workers to provide the best possible care for their residents.
With staffing being such a prevalent issue in the growing business of elderly care facilities, workers are finding themselves spread incredibly thin. Not only does this lack of support wear down on the employees, exhausting them and causing them to be more likely to make mistakes in their caregiving practices, but with fewer workers, there is a greater chance that residents will be left alone.
Neglect is one of the top causes for wrongful deaths in nursing homes. Elderly patients are at a higher risk for fractures during falls or for choking during meals and therefore require close supervision to prevent any of these potentially fatal accidents. If a nursing home fails to provide this supervision, and an accident occurs, the nursing home could be held negligible and be forced to give financial compensation to the resident and the resident’s family for any medical bills or additional pain and suffering that comes with the incident. A nursing home abuse lawyer will be able to help you through that process.
To make sure that your loved ones are receiving the proper care and supervision needed to guarantee their safety, be sure to ask any potential nursing homes what their ratio is of caregivers to residents, and how hands-on they require workers to be with their care.
While the safety of your loved one is obviously the top priority when selecting an elderly care facility, it’s also important to consider the quality of life that they will have in their new place of residence. There is a common stereotype of nursing homes that suggests that once residents are checked in, they begin slowly wasting away, building puzzles and watching television until their time comes. This isn’t how things have to be, and it certainly isn’t what you want for your loved one.
So, to keep this from happening, ask any potential nursing homes what kind of group activities they host for residents and what opportunities they provide to allow residents to get off of the property. If there are events that allow residents to get off of the property, be sure to ask how their care needs are still met in public–because, while you want them to enjoy themselves, you want them to still be safe.