Many Florida residents have loved ones either living in a nursing home or looking for a nursing home within which to place their loved one. Choosing a nursing home can be a formidable task unless one knows what to look for in a suitable facility. Although the convenience of the nursing home with regard to location is important, a convenient location is not necessarily the best nursing home for your loved one.
In selecting a suitable nursing home, make sure you check to see if the facility has the ability to take care of the needs of your loved ones. For example, if your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia, make sure that they have a suitable unit at the facility to care for those types of residents. Many facilities will have specialized Alzheimer’s units to deal with Alzheimer’s patients specifically. Always visit a nursing home which is under your consideration to make sure that it is clean. Check for unusual odors when visiting the facility. This may be a telltale sign of whether or not the facility is being kept clean. However, be cautious, because even though a facility may appear to be beautiful and clean, there may be issues that are hidden beneath the surface that you cannot discern from your senses. Always check with the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) surveys of the facility to determine if there are deficiencies found upon those inspections. Make sure that there are not frequent complaints about inadequate staffing. Check with AHCA to determine the ratings that the particular nursing home under consideration has received in recent years. Once a nursing home is chosen, it is extremely important that you or a family member visit your relative on a fairly frequent basis and spend at least a couple of hours or more in visitation. Choose different times of the day to visit the relative to make sure that the facility does not always expect you at a particular time. With regard to an immobile resident, it is extremely important that the resident be turned and repositioned on a regular basis according to nursing protocol. If you’re visiting an immobile loved one in a nursing facility for several hours and no one comes to turn and reposition them, there is a problem. Such a resident should be turned and repositioned at a minimum of every two hours. Inquire as to whether or not your loved one is getting proper hydration and consuming the appropriate percentage of their meals. Dehydration and malnutrition are frequent problems that befall nursing home residents. If your loved one needs assistance with meals, you need to make sure that this is being taken care of by the staff at the facility. Make sure that the resident is receiving the proper hygienic care. If the resident is incontinent of bowel or bladder, you want to make sure that the resident is being changed and kept clean so that they do not sit in soiled diapers for long periods of time. Sitting in soiled diapers for extended periods is conductive to bacterial infections such as urinary tract infections (UTI) and sepsis. Laying for long periods of time in soiled diapers can also promote skin breakdown resulting in severe decubitus ulcers which can become infected and cause systemic sepsis. If the resident has a tendency to be agitated and frequently tries to get out of their bed on their own, you may wish to inquire about having bed rails put up on the beds. The nursing homes have a no restraint policy that can only be amended by request and a doctor’s order if deemed necessary. The nursing staff should contact the doctor upon your request for such an order. When placing a loved one in a nursing home there are admission documents that must be signed wither by the resident if competent to do so or by their Power of Attorney/relative. Make sure that your loved one does not agree to sign an Arbitration Agreement. You have the right to refuse to sign such an agreement. An Arbitration Agreement takes away very valuable rights in the event your loved one is neglected or
abused in the nursing facility. By signing an arbitration agreement, you give up your right to have your case against the facility heard by a jury, which may severely inhibit your ability to recover damages to compensate you or your loved one for their losses in the event of abuse or neglect.
The foregoing are just some of the precautionary measures that you should be taking when you have a loved one in a nursing home. Check out the nursing facility thoroughly and don’t be afraid to ask many questions of the staff regarding the care and treatment of the resident. Remember, you want your loved one to be taken care of at least as well as you would take care of them at home if you were able to do so. Do your homework and learn about the nursing facility you choose.