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Published On: Sun, Nov 17th, 2019

An Empowered Approach to Caring for a Loved One in a Nursing Home

When a loved one is being cared for in a nursing home facility, you don’t have direct control over their daily activities and it’s difficult to know if they’re being treated appropriately. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is common and not always reported for various reasons. Sometimes residents can’t speak or communicate what’s going on, and others don’t want to cause any problems. 

Although your ability to control your loved one’s environment is limited, there are ways to make sure they get proper care. 

  1. Search for claims of abuse 

The best thing you can do for a loved one in a nursing home is search for claims of abuse originating from the facility. These claims can be in the form of allegations online, bad business reviews, and even lawsuits. Don’t limit your search to court cases, since many victims never file a lawsuit. Consider that not all claims will be completely true, but a history of allegations is a good indication something could be wrong.

If you find allegations of abuse, do more research to find out if it was brought to the courts and the outcome of each case. Document the names of employees who were allegedly abusive and call the facility to inquire about the case. Find out if the facility kept those employees, disciplined them, or fired them. If you don’t feel comfortable with the answers you get, start looking for another facility.

photo/ StockSnap

  1. Gather knowledge and information

The more you know, the easier it will be to make sure your loved one is well taken care of. Caring for a loved one in a nursing home requires being an advocate. You need to know how and when to speak on their behalf to get their needs met. These nursing home resources for advocates can help. There are websites that show you how to become a stronger advocate, how to find the right caregiver, laws about elder abuse, and other essential information you might need.

Caring for a loved one in a nursing home isn’t a hands-off job. It helps to understand the laws so you know when you can and should legally step in on their behalf.

  1. Take legal action when appropriate

Filing a lawsuit is a costly, time-consuming job but in many cases it’s the best course of action. For example, if you uncover neglect in a nursing home that resulted in bedsores or other injuries, you have every right to file a lawsuit. Bedsores are completely preventable and the presence of bedsores indicates severe neglect.

Another situation to watch out for is resident-to-resident mistreatment, including violence. The Boston Herald reported on a 2014 study that found 20% of residents in ten nursing homes were subjected to mistreatment by other residents. The mistreatment included cursing, screaming, hitting, kicking, biting, and even sexual misconduct.

Don’t be afraid to file a lawsuit if you discover evidence of abuse. Your loved one is probably not the only victim of abuse. Pursuing a lawsuit could ultimately help other residents and punitive damages can force the facility to change their ways. 

  1. Ask your loved one questions

Check in with your loved one and ask how they’re doing. Ask specific questions to find out if they’re being treated well in the nursing home. Ask how they like the staff members and the other residents. Ask how they like the meals and if there’s anything going on that makes them uncomfortable. 

Remember that some people don’t want to cause a problem and will choose not to offer any information unless specifically asked. Pay attention to body language and notice if they tense up when you ask about how they’re being treated by staff. 

  1. Stick around for more than a couple of hours

If possible, spend some time in the nursing home facility so you can get an idea of what goes on. You’ll need to spend more than a couple of hours to get a good idea of the usual routine. Try to hang out in areas that give you a line of sight into areas where staff interact with residents. Listen closely and keep your attention on the staff to see if their moods change abruptly or if they seem to get frustrated with residents.

If you find evidence of abuse, document it 

Anytime you suspect or discover abuse, document your experiences and observations. Your loved one depends on you to be an advocate. Documenting incidents and observations will help you be a better advocate when it’s time to prove your case in court.

Author: Anna Johansson

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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