If you have a loved one entering a nursing home, chances are you are experiencing a range of feelings.  These may include relief that there will be round the clock care for him or her to stay safe, but also feelings of worry whether your loved one will be safe, happy and treated well. Are you wondering what you can do to help assure a good experience for your loved one? Let us discuss how to best advocate for your loved one.

Consider getting to know the nursing home staff and other residents. Nursing homes typically have high turnover, both in terms of the staff and residents. By visiting regularly and at different times of the day, you may have the opportunity to get to know the staff members from different shifts, as well as, your loved one’s roommate and other residents. By getting to know them, you can help create a rapport and gain a greater understanding of how things run on a day-to-day basis. Having this connection can  make it easier to call and check on your loved one, when you are not there. You may also be able to make the staff members aware of your loved one’s preferences, such as wearing socks to bed, or if he or she prefers to take his or her medications with a certain beverage. This can be especially helpful if your loved one has dementia and may be unable to make his or her preferences known. Along the same lines, getting to know the other residents may assist your loved one with making friends and having someone to look out for him or her.

You may also want to join the family council. Most nursing homes have a family council, and in fact may be required by law to do so, if they accept Medicare or Medicaid. The family council meets regularly to review any concerns and addresses them with the nursing home administration.

Remember to try and show gratitude. One of the reasons that there can be a high turnover in nursing home staff is that it is an incredibly difficult job that does not necessarily pay well. While it may be human tendency to focus on what is wrong, taking the time to thank the staff, who often work tirelessly to care for our aging population can be a wonderful thing to do and may motivate them to continue doing good work. Gratitude can be shown as simply as a verbal thank you, but also consider a written thank you note, and if feasible, perhaps occasionally bring them some donuts or a little treat.   

Also, if you see something, say something. If something with your loved one does not seem right, trust your instincts, ask them directly, if something else happened. If it is possible, spend some additional time at the nursing home and talk to staff members about your concerns. If you feel that abuse may be occurring, the facility should have an ombudsman.  The community also has an elder care ombudsman, or an elder law attorney can advise you on how to best investigate and handle suspected abuse. You can also make a report to the Department of Public Health or law-enforcement.  

Proactive actions can make the difference in your loved one receiving the best care at a nursing home. If you have concerns about potential nursing home abuse, remember that we are your local, experienced, law firm! Do not hesitate to call, chat or click here to contact us today!