Nursing homes are often seen as sterile, joyless places where unwanted senior citizens are abandoned by their loved ones, but it’s not true for the vast majority of these facilities or their residents in general. Instead, nursing homes are meant to be places where elderly residents can receive the care they need to remain happy and healthy until the end of their life, especially those who have needs greater than what their families can provide at home. Similarly, many children, grandchildren, and other relatives remain highly involved in the care of their loved one, visiting every week and advocating for the best care possible.
This doesn’t mean that nursing homes are utopias of healing: they are still plagued by many of the problems which have invaded healthcare as a whole, including understaffing, low wages, and poor management. However, these facilities work hard to maintain a standard of care, and there’s a lot involved in creating a quality nursing home. Today, we’ll look at some of the ways that assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and memory care facilities train and monitor their staff, as well as how you can participate in this advocacy to prevent abuse.
Nursing homes have developed comprehensive protocols to hire, train, and monitor the best staff possible
Creating an abuse-free nursing home starts the instant that a manager receives a potential staff member’s application. Right away, the manager will perform a background check on this person to look for any indications of violent behavior, whether that’s on the job or otherwise. For staff members like nurse practitioners or registered nurses, the manager will check with the licensing board to ensure that the applicant is in good standing and has not received disciplinary action for anything related to patient care.
Once the person is hired, they will undergo training to identify abuse, as well as learn the proper way to handle and work with patients for the safety of everyone involved. They will also be made aware of the legal frameworks guiding their work, which includes the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act and the Nursing Home Reform Act, which outline legal definitions of elder abuse and recommend criminal actions for those who perpetrate this form of violence.
The abuse prevention doesn’t stop there, however, as the managers and supervisors of a good facility will keep a close eye on their staff at all times. This can include regular check-ins with all staff, meetings to identify and discuss concerns, and security systems that will provide evidence of mistreatment.
In fact, just the act of staying proactive can prevent abuse, as some neglect and mistreatment occurs because staff feel overburdened, frustrated, and ignored. Overworked staff may take their frustrations out on the residents, or they simply have too many responsibilities to provide quality care. Managers and supervisors that remain responsive to the needs of their staff can nip problems in the bud before a resident is ever harmed; this can also prevent high turnover rates that threaten resident’s care.
Unfortunately though, all the good policies in the world can’t always protect residents from abuse, which is why you should be aware of your rights and responsibilities as an advocate for your loved one.
Play an active role in the life of your loved one to prevent abuse – and know that you have legal recourse should you suspect mistreatment
It simply can’t be overstated how important it is that you stay involved after your loved one settles into their new home, because this can make a world of difference in how they are cared for in the facility. Residents who have a strong support system are less likely to be abused because staff know that someone is watching them and will notice any signs of neglect; this can also boost the morale of your loved one, which can make them less of a target for abuse in the first place.
Should you suspect problems, though, it’s time to get a qualified nursing home abuse attorney involved in the case. With years of experience in pursuing lawsuits of this type, they will be able to gather the right information to prove neglect or abuse, as well as the resources to find qualified experts to testify on your behalf. More importantly, though, they will know how to negotiate with the care facility for a settlement, potentially keeping the case out of the court system and sparing your loved one a long, drawn out legal battle. This can make a huge difference in how your elderly relative moves on from the abuse, because testifying in front of a judge and jury is incredibly stressful and can exacerbate their condition.
While there are safeguards in place that can help prevent abuse, they are not foolproof, and you must remain vigilant on behalf of your loved one in a nursing facility. Being aware of proper procedures and your rights as an advocate can be a true life saver. Should you ever suspect abuse in a nursing facility, be sure to contact an experienced personal injury law firm to discuss the matter and receive justice for your relative.