When it comes time to move a loved one to a nursing home, family members often do considerable research as to what options are available for their elderly loved one. Many family members will make an effort to visit prospective nursing home facilities to scout out whether the home is a good match for their loved one. The ideal nursing home offers a good quality of life, a happy, bright, warm, and receptive community, and provides the appropriate level of care for each resident on an individual basis. Residents who need assistance receive aid promptly and with a smile, and residents who need to exercise more autonomy over themselves are permitted to do so.
We all want our loved ones to live happily in their golden years, and it is important to take care when choosing a facility. Nursing homes are a business, and, like any business, they need to make money to survive. Many nursing homes actually employ marketing specialists whose sole job function is to market the nursing home to prospective new clients. While we hope that these nursing home marketers are being honest in their representations of what they are selling, we have all had an experience or two in which we have been promised something better than what we actually received.
Choosing a nursing home is a serious commitment both emotionally and financially. That’s why it is important to take care during the selection process. Touring prospective nursing homes can give a lot of insight as to how residents are treated at the facility and how well staff cares for each resident. Below are some signs that could be indicative of bigger problems, such as nursing home abuse or neglect, at the facility.
Strong Scents are Often a Bad Sign
Upon taking a tour of the facility, if the scent of stale urine is detected–no matter how faint–it is likely a sign that the facility is understaffed or does not provide proper care for its residents, or that there are other serious problems at the facility. It is equally telling if there is the intoxicating odor of strongly scented cleaning products. Overpowering pine-scented cleaners are used just as often to overpower bad smells as they are used to actually clean, so it is prudent to be suspicious of nursing homes with such odors.
It is also an indication of unsafe and unsanitary living conditions if residents smell poorly. It can be an indication of poor personal hygiene if residents smell unwashed or unclean, or if they have pungent, bad breath. This would indicate that inadequate staffing levels have left the residents neglected.
Agency or Unfamiliar Caregivers
Some nursing homes engage in the practice of hiring agency nurses or staff. These are nurses, aides, or staff that are hired for short periods of time on a temporary basis, or may be contracted or per diem workers. This means that the nursing staff is regularly rotated out and never develops a relationship or familiarity with the residents. This places the nurse or aide at a disadvantage when providing care, since the nurse or aide may not have a full understanding of each resident’s conditions, medications, or habits. It could be dangerous to provide emergency care without a full picture of the resident’s needs, conditions, and medications.
If you have noticed these things at the nursing home at which your loved one resides, and you are concerned about abuse or neglect, please contact the Rooth Law Firm online or by phone at (800) 598-4348.
Michelle Crouch, 50 Secrets a Nursing Home Won’t Tell You, Reader’s Digest Magazine, April 2013