More than 1.4 million elderly adults currently live in 15,700 nursing homes across the U.S. This number is expected to rise dramatically as the baby boomer population begins to age and the need for nursing home services increase. This will leave countless families with a difficult decision to make: should your loved one live in a nursing home?
Even if your loved one is not ready now, it is often beneficial for families to start their search and evaluate different nursing home considerations if you are considering this option in the future. In doing this, we recommend considering these 5 questions while searching for the best and safest nursing home for your loved one:
Are they free to make choices like what time they eat and what type of food they’ll enjoy with each meal? Can your loved one arrange and decorate their room how they would like? Are residents able to go outside whenever they want to? Is smoking allowed? Are there restricted visiting hours for guests? Do residents have access to a phone and TV? Are they provided a roommate and if so, do they have a choice in roommate? Can they keep their current doctor? Are pets allowed to visit or even live in the facility?
For instance, does the facility have certification provided by Medicare. This is crucial for those who will be relying on Medicare to help cover costs. Another certification to ask about is the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) – a non-profit organization that inspects, accredits and certifies healthcare organizations and programs across the U.S. If a nursing home has this certification, it means they have satisfied a strict set of quality control and safety guidelines that include infection prevention (such as bedsores), as well as medication management. You could also keep an eye out for their “Gold Seal of Approval” decal, which indicates they have passed a successful JCAHO evaluation.
This is an especially important question for families to ask that have a loved one with dementia. You’ll want to make sure there are precautions in place to avoid wandering. All families should also inquire about the home’s fire safety systems. Are there sprinklers or fire alarms in the building? Is there an escape plan in place for residents and if so, what is that plan? If your loved one is dependent on a medical machine, you’ll want to ask about back-up generation. Lastly, what precautions are taken to protect a resident’s belongings? Are there safety deposit boxes? Do residents have something they can lock in their room? Is there a security guard on premises to prevent unauthorized entry into the building?
A lot of problems we see in nursing homes are the result of understaffing. You’ll want to spend time asking what the patient to staff ratio is at any given time. Also, find out exactly who comprises the staff. How many RNs are on duty? Social workers? Does the home have its own doctor or someone who is always on call? You’ll also want to observe the staff working when you visit the home. Do they look engaged? Stressed? What are their attitudes toward the residents and what are the residents’ attitudes toward them? When you visit, is the staff too busy to speak with you or do their job properly?
You’ll want to do extensive comparative research on nursing homes in your desired area and keep a list to weigh the pros and cons of each. There are also some online tools (see: U.S. News and World Report) you can use to help narrow down your search and see how each home ranks against one another in various categories including: health inspections, nurse staffing, quality measures, an overall score, and more.
Nursing home injury cases are very specialized, very dependent on what you can prove, and extremely emotional. The Arizona elder abuse law firm of Knapp & Roberts has successfully handled many of these cases, achieving a fair settlement out of court whenever possible and taking the case through trial whenever necessary. We are aware of how hard the cases are on the victims and families, and we take great pains to keep our clients aware of the case status and prepared for the steps to follow.
There’s no charge for talking to us, and if we take the case, there’s no fee unless we succeed in getting compensation for the injuries or death of a resident. Call one of our Phoenix personal injury lawyers today at (480) 991-7677 or fill out the form on our website.
Other great reads you might want to check out, before evaluating a nursing home include:
The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.