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Being an Advocate for Your Loved One in a Nursing Home

It’s not hard to find information about how to select a nursing home, but once you’ve made a choice, how can you make sure the facility is treating your mom, dad or relative well?

The number-one way to find out is simply to be there. Just like it made sense to be involved at your child’s school, it also makes sense to be involved in your parent’s nursing home care. So make regular visits and most of all, be an advocate for your loved one.  If something doesn’t seem right, speak up.

In many cases, being more involved and acting as an advocate for your loved one can make a big difference. But sometimes conditions don’t improve and residents suffer the consequences.  We see this far too often and our lawyers have brought injury or death claims against nearly every one-star rated nursing home in the Jacksonville area.

Pay attention to these important aspects of care to help protect your loved one:

Nutrition is critical for an elderly person. As people age, the number of effective taste buds decreases, so they often lose interest in food and it becomes harder to get the nutrients they need. Because of this, it’s important that food is presented in a visually appetizing way and patients should have a variety of healthy choices at each meal, along with healthy snacks.

Have a meal with your loved one on a regular basis at the nursing home and pay attention to how much your loved one is eating. If they are not eating much, talk to the dietary staff about making some modifications so they can get better nutrition.

How does the staff treat each other? A harmonious work environment usually translates to better care and concern for patients. If the nursing home’s staff doesn’t seem to work as a team and you overhear yelling and harsh words, it may be a sign that they treat patients the same way.

How do staff members interact with patients? Nurses and certified nurses’ assistants should treat patients in a positive and encouraging way. Knocking before entering and calling them by name should be the norm.  A good nursing home will encourage staff to ask each patient how he or she would like to be addressed.

How does the home smell? Of course, there may be some unpleasant smells in any nursing home. Medications, special foods, and even cleaning supplies can emit odors. If the home smells badly every time you are there, and you notice a stale urine or fecal smell, it could mean that the staff is not tending to residents’ needs that can lead to a whole host of other problems.

How does the staff handle a fall? If a resident falls, take notice of what happens next. Do they check the patient carefully to see if they have any injuries? Do they take the time to comfort the patient and make sure he or she is okay? Hallways should be uncluttered with plenty of room for patients to walk.

How do residents spend their free time? A quality nursing home will have activities for residents to engage in if they so choose. Card games, bingo or simply having group discussions are good ways for patients to keep their minds sharp. For patients who are able, it’s good for them to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. For patients who are room-bound, activities should be brought to them.

Interact with management. If you notice something seems out of place, bring it to the nurse unit manager’s attention. If that doesn’t work, escalate your concern to the director of nursing or the administrator. A good nursing home will take your concerns into consideration and make improvements.

If you’re like most people who lead busy lives and you simply don’t have time to visit frequently, enlist the help of other family members. The more advocates a nursing home resident has, the better.

Written by Elizabeth Allen
Our Jacksonville attorneys prosecute nursing home abuse and neglect that results in death or injury.  If we accept your case, you pay us nothing unless we make a recovery.  Consultations are always free.