With nursing home abuse and neglect becoming a growing concern for family members who have an aging loved one living in a facility, it is important that they not only visit their relatives on a regular basis, but they take the time to address any issues that may be present as well as discuss the quality of care their relative is receiving. The fact is, many cases of abuse and neglect go unreported and are often not handled appropriately by staff members. Therefore, it is up to you to look out for the best interest of your loved one to help prevent them from being mistreated during their stay in one of these facilities.
In an effort to assist you, below are a few questions you might consider asking your family member each time you visit so you can gain more insight into what it is like for them to live there and if there is a problem that requires you to intervene to get resolved.
- Are you eating regularly, and if so, how are the meals?
It is especially important for elderly individuals to get in nutritious meals each and every day to ensure their health is up to par and they are consuming enough vitamins and nutrients to support a healthy diet and immune system. As you know, the older you get, the harder your body has to work to repair itself and fight off illnesses. Therefore, it is essential your loved one is being fed regularly and that they are enjoying the meals they are getting.
- Do the staff members take the time to assist you so that you can participate in activities?
Although some residents are unable to move on their own and require a staff worker to help them get around, they should be encouraging them to take advantage of the activities that are offered within the facility. Many nursing home residents find themselves becoming depressed or unhappy given the circumstances and these activities can help brighten up their day. The last thing any family wants is for their mother or father to be restricted to a chair and having nothing more to do than stare out of a window.
- How frequently does the staff shift your positions?
This question is especially important to ask those who are bedridden, whether it is because of an injury or a medical condition they suffer from. The fact is, individuals who are unable to move on their own and require assistance with getting up and down need to be shifted frequently to prevent from them developing a bedsore, also recognized as a pressure ulcer. When bedsores develop and are left untreated this can result in life-threatening conditions developing.
- Are there any staff members you dislike based on the quality of care they are providing you with?
Nursing home residents have the right to be respected and live a life free from abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, many residents are subjected to mistreatment, whether it is in the form of abuse or neglect simply because they are placed in a facility with workers who are untrained, burnt out, stressed, overworked, etc. Therefore, you need to ask your relative if there is anyone they dislike, whether they be a new employee or old, and find out why. Based on the information your loved one provides you with will help determine whether you need to speak with the staff or take your concerns to someone higher up.
- Are any of your personal items missing?
When an aging individual moves into a nursing home, they likely bring along with them some of their personal items from home. While some of these items may be used to complete certain day to day tasks, others may be there to help your loved one feel more at home. Unfortunately, with nursing homes becoming understaffed and workers unable to monitor all that goes on throughout the day and night, things tend to go missing. And if your relative doesn’t have the essential items they need (i.e. hearing aid, eyeglasses, etc.) or the items they brought in with them, this should be reported to staff immediately. The Missouri Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program recommends that you also “ask the facility to provide a written plan of action regarding how it will handle the missing item(s).” If you find that your matter isn’t getting resolved, speak with someone higher up. And if your loved one’s items are still missing and the staff at the facility isn’t doing much to resolve the problem, you can always file a police report.
In the event your loved one opens up to you during your visit and tells you they are being abused, whether it is verbally, physically, etc., you need to contact a St. Louis, MO nursing home abuse attorney. Our nursing home misconduct lawyers would be happy to listen to your concerns, assess the situation, and determine how it needs to be handled. If you would like to be connected with a lawyer in the St. Louis area now, contact USAttorneys.com