Nursing home abuse is reported in the news and if you are placing your parent or loved one in a facility, it’s important to check out the home and ask good questions. I have been saddened hearing in my counseling sessions some very heartbreaking stories of neglect.
How do residents feel about the food at the facility? Eating is one of the important areas of each day. Are residents pleased with the food? Can you speak to any residents individually to find out their feelings about the facility, care and other factors? Keep in mind that there may be senility, anger and other factors that influence someone's response. On the other hand if there truly is nursing home abuse, you want to be aware of this.
Look at the expressions of the staff? Do they look happy, overworked or burnt out? Does it look like there is enough staff for the number of residents or is the proportion off? What are the needs of your spouse, relative or parent? Will they require a lot of care and are they able to voice their concerns to staff?
As a social worker, I have always advised people to take the tour of a facility but also go back at another time to see what it looks like during meal time , activity time and other parts of the day. When you first go, you probably will be thinking a lot of costs and looking at the room etc. But return a second and third time to really review everything at the facility.
Nursing home abuse can cover a variety of areas from being spoken to abruptly to malnutrition, bed sores and neglected medical care. Of course, physical, mental or physical abuse is the biggest fear and worst offense. Find out what the screening is for staff. Victims of nursing home abuse cannot always speak up about it. They may feel intimidated by staff, afraid of worrying their children, unable to see theft or other activities due to eye issues or general fear. Fortunately there are lots of regulations that should be followed to be in legal compliance. Encourage your parent, spouse or friend at a facility to speak to you immediately about any problems and to not be afraid to voice concerns. This situation can be complex because oftentimes a senior citizen may prefer to be living at a condo or house rather than facility so this can also create exaggerations.
The director of the facility should be informed of any nursing home abuse and the state notified as well depending on the severity. Even if you are unsure about whether your parent is exaggerating the situation, it is good to speak with staff on this issue.