The first step to choosing a nursing home for your loved one feels simple: You need to pick out a number of homes in the area and take a tour. Depending on the situation, you may bring your loved one on this tour to make the choice, or you may wind up making it yourself -- if they are suffering from mental conditions that make it impossible for them to choose, for example. No matter how you plan to select the home, though, you just need to tour a few, get a feel for what they offer and decide which one is the best fit.
You know that all of the nursing homes are going to put their best foot forward and tell you about the advantages during the tour. They're trying to sell a product. They want it to look good.
As such, what you really want to look for are those critical red flags. How do you know if this is a home where abuse takes place or where negligent staff members don't provide the type of care you'd expect? You have to look a bit deeper, and you need to trust your gut. Here are a few red flags to look out for:
1. Communication issues
When you watch the staff interact, whom do they talk to? Do you see staff members conversing with each other and basically ignoring the residents? Or are they just talking to the residents and communicating with each other only when needed? If the focus sits more on talking to other workers, some experts warn that they may neglect the residents that they need to care for.
2. Poor response times
When someone needs assistance, how fast do they get it? You can ask about response times in the individual rooms; most have an alarm that the person can pull, and you need to know that someone will show up quickly. But you can also learn a lot just from how long it takes a resident to get a staff member's attention in the dining hall or the social areas.
3. No names
The staff members should, as a general rule, know all of the residents by name. Now, a few mistakes aren't a big deal. A resident could be new and workers have not had time to really get to know them yet. However, if the workers don't seem close enough to know anyone's names, that's a problem. It means they may not offer the care and respect that the residents deserve.
4. Lack of oversight
Much of the actual care is provided by the lower-level employees, but they should have administrators on site to oversee the process. If it doesn't seem like anyone is in charge, that's a red flag. Administrators are busy, and they do have to do more than day-to-day tasks, but a complete absence and a lack of oversight can make for a chaotic and dangerous setting.
If you put your loved one in a home and they suffer an injury due to neglect or even abuse, make sure you understand all of the rights that you have.