While you knew that eventually, the day would come where you’d have to decide about placing your parent or loved one into a long-term care facility, it doesn’t make the process any less difficult when that day arrives. Nursing home abuse and neglect are rampant, and there are likely many safety concerns on your mind.
Fortunately, there are some common red flags you can look out for to help minimize the risk of abuse or neglect. While these signs don’t always mean abuse is taking place, they can help you to weed out subpar facilities and ensure you get the best possible care for your loved one.
1. The current residents don’t appear well-cared for
When assessing the quality of a nursing home, one of the best places to start is paying close attention to the residents’ appearance during your visits. Do the residents look clean and well-groomed? Are they dressed appropriately for the time of day or the weather? If you can’t confidently answer “yes” to these questions, it could indicate the residents aren’t getting the care and attention they need.
2. The facility doesn’t look maintained
The condition of the long-term care facilities you tour can tell you a great deal about how the operation is run. A well-maintained nursing home should always be clean, have good lighting and be a comfortable temperature for residents. You shouldn’t smell overwhelming unpleasant odors or notice unorganized clutter. Ensure the nursing home you choose is comfortable, accessible and hygienic for your loved one.
3. The staff is unhelpful or lacking
Staffing is another essential factor you’ll want to pay attention to in your search for the right nursing home. Nursing homes legally must post how many nurses will be available to your loved one during the day, night and weekends. If understaffing or high staff turnover is an ongoing problem, it can translate to your relative’s poor care. Pay attention to whether the staff addresses residents by their name and whether they appear overworked. Ask them basic questions about the nursing home to see how knowledgeable they are regarding the care they provide.
4. The facility has been cited for abuse
In October of 2019, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) rolled out a new icon alert on their online nursing home compare tool. This icon, which has a white hand in a red circle, indicates whether a specific facility has been cited for abuse or neglect in the past two years. If the nursing home you are considering has that icon next to its name on Medicare.gov, you should take your search in a different direction.
Place a parent into long-term care is never easy, but the right nursing home and staff can give you both peace of mind. By familiarizing yourself with the standard red flags, you can ensure your loved one gets the quality care they deserve.