What Nursing Home Facility is Right for my Loved One?
Choosing a nursing home facility is a daunting task. There are reasons why nursing homes are deemed undesirable – many provide inadequate care, and smell like urine and death. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your loved one is receiving the best possible care.
First, get a durable power of attorney for medical care so that you can make health care decisions and review medical records for your loved one.
Second, request a complete facility profile from the State Health Department, Licensing and Certification Department for the facility you intend to use. For more information, visit the website for the California Department of Public Health, or call them at (916) 558-1784.
Third, visit the surrounding facilities. Pay attention to staffing levels – are their sufficient staff meeting the needs of residents? Notice how many people in the facility seem overmedicated, excessively sleepy or in bed or unable to walk or talk. If many patients fall into this category, be wary of overmedication at the facility, especially with the psychotropic drugs Haldol, Thorazine, Thiothixene, Droperidol, Fluphenazine, Midazolam, Benzodiazepine, Lorazepam, Mellaril and Prolixin.
Fourth, when reviewing the Admission Agreement, do not agree to and do not initial any arbitration clause. An arbitration clause is a provision in the admission agreement that tries to force families to waive your right to a jury trial for any potential claims you or your loved one might have against the nursing home. You are not obligated to agree to or initial an arbitration clause as a condition to having the patient be admitted to the facility. Arbitration clauses are not favorable to consumers, as it is a waiver of your right to a jury trial and potentially limits your ability to hold a nursing home accountable for neglect or abuse.
Fifth, visit your family member at different times during the day, including meal times. Take notice of the types of food and nutritional balance. Dehydration can lead to major problems (hypernatremia, neurological losses, increased risk of developing bed sores, death). So always make sure that water is available at all times and that it is easily accessible to the resident. If your loved one cannot access water due to a disability or limitation (e.g., blind, hand injury, etc.), consult with the nursing facility so that a care plan can be addressed to ensure that your loved one receives adequate fluids throughout the day.
Sixth, be involved in care conferences. Tell the Administrator or Director of Nurses that you want to be informed of and present at all care conferences to know what the plan of care is for your loved one.
Take seriously any complaints the patient has about mistreatment by the staff, such as “they pull my hair” or “they are mean to me.” Don’t accept the facilities’ statement that the patient is old and doesn’t know what is going on.
Report any signs of bad care to the state licensing office in your state that licenses and regulates nursing homes. Be sure to follow up on the complaint to insure accountability. The California Department of Public Health’s number is (800) 236-9747, or you can fill out a formal complaint online. You can also contact your county hotline to report instances of abuse.
Do not be intimidated by threats from the facility such as kicking the patient out of the facility because of complaints or the facility’s refusal to cooperate with requests for information.
York Law Firm is dedicated to providing people with the knowledge to avoid nursing home abuse of their loved one. If you do need an attorney to help protect your legal claim, we encourage you to contact us. We specialize in nursing home abuse cases.
York Law Corporation
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