While U.S. nursing homes are subject to government regulations, some fall
short of providing quality care. Two years ago, the Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS) published a report citing common healthcare deficiencies.
Entitled the Nursing Home Data Compendium, topping the list are:
- inadequate infection control
- substandard cooking and food storage
- improper care concerning mental and physical well-being
- resident accidents caused by poor maintenance and lack of staff supervision
Additionally, from 2015 to 2016, the HHS identified resident abuse within
nursing homes across 33 states. Of the 134 cases, over 25 percent were
not reported to police. The mistreatment came to light by correlating
emergency room care with Medicare insurance claims.
These two federal investigations prove that not all nursing homes function
ethically. Finding a reputable provider mandates research. Then, after
a loved one enters a facility, you must be watchful for neglect and abuse.
This blog offers insights regarding both concerns.
1. Begin a facility search by obtaining referrals.
Start by canvassing others with loved ones in nursing homes, such as your
friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors. Ask for their experience
with the facilities.
Also, speak with your doctor. If you're a church or synagogue member,
talk with outreach staff. They likely have a list of nursing homes where
clergy make visits. For a loved one currently in a hospital, the discharge
planner will provide referrals before leaving.
2. Schedule appointments to tour facilities.
Based on your referrals, compile a list of several Houston nursing homes.
Then, call the Admissions Department at each, and arrange a tour. First,
schedule a daytime interview. At a later date, book a visit during an
evening shift, so you witness care at different times of day.
Before departing for each tour, in a notebook, write down questions and
what to observe. Frequently, facility reps follow a fixed route through
the building, highlighting the most impressive features. In addition to
the planned itinerary, be sure to see the:
- dining rooms
- semi-private, private, and quad bedrooms
- resident bathrooms
- recreation department
- rehabilitation department
3. On each tour, ask pertinent questions.
Before starting a tour, if you have the opportunity, initiate a conversation
with an alert resident. Introduce yourself as a visitor, and ask what
they like best about living at the nursing home. If you see a family member,
obtain their opinion of the facility.
In the lobby, there should be a posting of the state survey report. If
not displayed, ask to see it, looking for violations. If any are listed,
ask the representative how the facility corrected the infractions. Also,
request an application.
Then, start taking notes. Find out the staff-to-resident ratio. Each nursing
assistant should be responsible for no more than eight residents. Ask
how often patients are examined by medical specialists, such as dentists,
ophthalmologists, and podiatrists. Inquire whether the facility is accredited
by JCAHO, an overseeing organization. Also, learn what services the home
provides regarding rehabilitation, recreation, mental stimulation, and
4. Assess for quality care.
Observe whether the facility appears and smells clean. Do the residents
look well-groomed and well-nourished? When they ask for help, do staff
members respond respectfully, in a reasonable amount of time? Among nursing
staff, do you see evidence of rapport and teamwork?
In resident bedrooms, call bells should be within easy reach. Television
programs and music should be appropriate for seniors, rather than suited
to staff. Each resident bathroom should be equipped with grab bars, handrails,
and emergency pull cords.
By noon, all residents ought to be dressed and out of bed. After aides
complete and document hands-on care, are they making rounds, rather than
sitting in the break room or watching a patient's TV?
5. Be alert to signs of neglect, mistreatment, and abuse.
Substandard care comes under four categories:
- Emotional and Social - Residents are isolated, ignored, or subject to yelling
by staff. Many patients appear withdrawn, agitated, depressed, or anxious.
When approached by staff, some cringe, cry, or lash out.
- Hygienic - Residents smell unpleasant, with long, dirty nails and soiled
clothes. Linens need changing.
- Physical - A facility has dim lighting, foul odors, broken equipment, outdated
technology, and cluttered rooms and hallways.
- Medical - Residents demonstrate unusual bruises, cuts, welts, wounds, and bedsores.
6. Conclude each tour with wrap-up questions.
Ask the representative for the facility's strong points, what sets
it apart from others. Does it have any novel programs, such as pet therapy
and visits by schoolchildren? Are religious services held regularly?
While conversing with the rep, notice whether they take pride in working
at the facility. At the end of your meeting, if unanswered questions remain,
ask to speak with a social worker or charge nurse.
7. Choose a facility.
After the second visit to each facility on your list, review your notes.
If you're still undecided, make some impromptu visits, unannounced.
Then, choose the home that appears to offer the best living environment
and skilled care.
Once your loved one becomes a nursing home resident, ensure weekly visits
by people they know, such as friends, neighbors, family, and clergy. Also,
join the family council affiliated with the nursing home. Regular visits
and facility involvement increase the likelihood of proper care.
At The Soileau Law Firm, we maintain convenient hours for clients, including
nights and weekends. We also have a staff member available to take calls
Pasadena nursing home abuse attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning the initial consultation is free,
and there is no bill for services unless we win your case.
Call today to discuss your potential lawsuit.