Nursing home residents have the right to receive quality and individualized care and protection from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and other mistreatment. Knowing the difference between acceptable and substandard care can help determine whether there is nursing home malpractice.
These are indications that the facility is providing quality care:
- It is clean, free of clutter, smells fresh and has a comfortable temperature.
- Call lights and other calls for assistance are responded to quickly and with courtesy.
- Residents are well-groomed, clean, alert, and happy and no visible restraints are used.
- Food appears and smells appetizing.
- Residents are encouraged to be involved in their daily lives and care and can decide their wake-up time and other similar issues.
- Residents are involved in individual and group activities.
- Staff knows the residents and talk to them respectfully.
The following are the indications of poor care
- Signs of understaffing. These include call lights not being answered promptly or turned off without care being rendered, residents involved in infrequent falls, and lack of assistance for residents using the restroom.
- Residents’ rights are not respected, and they play no role in deciding their daily care.
- Food quality issues such as less meal options, less food served, and menu not being followed.
- High staff turnover.
- Staff unfamiliar with residents.
- Residents seem bored, inactive, and unengaged with others or activities.
- Resident complaints are ignored.
- Residents or their families complain that concerns were not resolved.
- Facility is unclean, has an odor and uncomfortable temperature.
- Medication errors.
Residents in a substandard facility also show indications of poor treatment. These include:
- Substantial and sudden changes in their behavior such as withdrawal, fear, and lack of appetite.
- Weight loss, less mobility, and other serious physical changes.
- Bruising and other unexplained injuries.
- Being unclean or having body odor.
- Missing personal items or funds.
Family members should become familiar with federal and South Carolina nursing home and long-term care facility requirements. They can take steps when they see or have suspicions of substandard care. Actions include:
- Coordinate complaints and advocacy with resident or family councils.
- Take notes and record names, dates and times concerning observations, concerns, and problems.
- Discuss problems and observations with the facility administrator and set a resolution goal.
- Share concerns and problems with the facility’s owner or corporate office.
- Contact the ombudsman if complaints are unresolved, staff is unresponsive or for advocacy.
- Visit the facility frequently at different times and take notes of any problems.
- Review oversight agency reports to see if the facility was previously cited for similar issues.
- File specific complaints on suspected abuse, neglect, exploitation or other problems with the South Carolina Health Facilities Licensing Bureau or local law enforcement.
Attorneys can also help assure that residents receive quality, compassionate and respectful care. They may also seek compensation for nursing home abuse and neglect.