Choosing a nursing home for a family member can be very difficult. You may have mixed emotions about the situation and it can be stressful thinking about leaving a loved one in the care of people you don’t know. The sad reality is that not all nursing homes treat their patients well or operate as safely as they should, which is why it’s important to know how to choose a good nursing home.
Before choosing a nursing home, always make sure you visit it first to inspect the facility and talk to the staff. Here are things you should look for when you visit a nursing home before you leave your loved one there.
The five main causes of nursing home malpractice and injury are:
- Medication error
- Poor hiring
- Poor training of staff
- Wandering and elopement (patients leaving facility grounds)
Nursing homes should operate in a way that prevents these risks as much as possible.
What to watch for
Safe facility: To greatly decrease the risk of harm to your loved one, you should first examine the physical facility itself.
The area should be well-cleaned and uncluttered. Obstructions in hallways or loose objects on the floor increase the risk of patients falling and hurting themselves. You should also pay attention to whether the nursing home has the following:
- Call buttons and bed alarms in each room
- Low beds that are easy for patients to access
- Good lighting
- Quick and attentive care when patients need help moving
Safe medication practices: Pay attention to how medication is administered and ask about the nursing home’s staff.
Occasionally, nursing homes have a computerized method of dispensing proper medication, but these systems are expensive. Do not expect homes to have this, but if they do, it is a much less risky way of administering medication.
Also watch for/ask about the following:
- Registered nurses on staff
- No ability for patients to access medication without staff assistance
- Staff fully and properly trained on medication administration
Proper supervision and care: On top of a safe environment and proper medication practice, staff should be giving proper attention in general to the nursing home patients.
Ask about the ratio of staff to patients. Understaffed homes have overworked staff, which results in tiredness, neglect of job duties, and higher chance of mistakes. Staff should constantly be aware of patients, assist them with moving around the facility and attend to their needs.
There should also be adequate security measures and supervision to prevent wandering or elopement. Wandering highly increases a patient’s risk of falls, and elopement from the facility is incredibly dangerous and scary. Nursing homes should never allow their patients to leave the facility unattended.
If your loved one has suffered injury or neglect at their nursing home, contact an experienced attorney who can help your family through this challenging time and advise you on what you can do next.