How Do I Know the Nursing Home We Choose Is a Safe One for My Elderly Parent?

Preventing nursing home abuse is a critical concern for families when choosing a care facility for their loved ones. Unfortunately, elder abuse (which technically may be a form of medical malpractice involving seniors) can occur in nursing homes, making it essential to take proactive steps to select a safe and reputable facility that will not commit a preventable medical mistake involving your loved one. Here are some valuable tips from our Virginia Beach personal injury lawyers for choosing a nursing home that prioritizes the well-being and safety of its residents:

Research and Gather Information

Begin your search by researching nursing homes in your area. Utilize online resources, such as the Medicare Nursing Home Compare website, which provides information on nursing home ratings and inspection reports. Seek recommendations from friends, family, and healthcare professionals who may have insights into reputable facilities since medical mistakes involving nursing and skilled care facilities are well-known.

Once you have narrowed down the list of nursing homes or rehabilitation facilities you are considering, check for state licensing and certification. Ensure the nursing home is licensed and certified by the state regulatory agency. This certification indicates that the facility meets the necessary safety and care standards. You can request a copy of their state inspection report to review any past violations or deficiencies.

Visit the Facilities

Schedule visits to assess their nursing/medical quality of care and living conditions. In-person visits give you a sense of the facility’s cleanliness, safety, and overall atmosphere. Pay attention to the demeanor of staff members and residents during your visit. Look for evidence of social and recreational activities for residents. Engaging in activities can contribute to residents’ well-being and happiness. Assess whether residents have opportunities for social interaction and participation in meaningful activities.

Ask about staffing ratios, including the number of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and nurses per resident. Adequate staffing levels are crucial for providing quality care and preventing abuse and neglect. Facilities with understaffing issues are more likely to have problems.

You also want to ask about the nursing facility’s hiring and screening process for staff members. Before hiring employees, reputable nursing homes conduct thorough background checks, including criminal history and abuse registry checks. Inquire about their employee turnover rate, as high turnover can be a red flag.

Make sure there are security measures in place to protect residents from unauthorized access and potential harm and that the facility has safeguards to prevent residents from wandering or elopement, particularly if your loved one has cognitive issues.

Although you hope you will never need to utilize this information, you want to review the medical facility’s resident rights policy to ensure it aligns with federal and state regulations and guarantees residents the right to dignity, privacy, choice, and freedom from abuse and neglect. You also want to be aware of the nursing home’s procedure for addressing and resolving complaints.

Trust Your Instincts

Ultimately, trust your instincts when evaluating a nursing home. If something doesn’t feel right or you have concerns about a facility, exploring other options is essential. Your loved one’s safety and well-being should always come first.

Even after selecting a nursing home, it’s crucial to stay involved and regularly check on your loved one’s well-being. Visit frequently, talk to staff and residents, and remain vigilant for any signs of abuse or neglect.

If you suspect mistreatment or medical mistakes rising to the level of malpractice causing a significant avoidable complication, or worse yet, a wrongful death, take immediate action to protect your loved one and report your concerns to the appropriate authorities. Nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, and skilled care nursing facilities are all subject to the medical malpractice laws of each state, and these laws also include deadlines and relevant statutes of limitations.  Your next step should be to contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to speak with a Virginia Beach nursing home malpractice or abuse lawyer and find out your family’s legal options.