The higher incidence of nursing home negligence and abuse cases in Orange County and Los Angeles County is making families nervous about selecting the right nursing home for their loved ones. An October 2, 2008 article in the Riverside Press-Enterprise, offers up some good advice on how to choose the right nursing home, especially for families who are faced with the tough decision of transferring their loved ones from one nursing home to another.
So what are some danger signs or red flags you should look for when you go scouting? Well, the horror stories are many. California health inspectors in 2005 who visited Huntington Healthcare Center in Los Angeles found residents wearing soiled clothes, animal droppings near food in the dining area and a patient with an open head wound. While these are the more obvious signs, there are also many subtler signs and symptoms that you should look for.
Nursing home advocates recommend that patients and families visit the facilities and pay attention to all sights, smells and sounds. Some of the things to look for are the activities going on, whether residents are sitting in wheelchairs in the hallways or if the home has a foul smell. It is best to visit a nursing home right around the time meals are served because those are the busiest times of day for a nursing home. That will give you a glimpse of how residents are treated, how much attention they receive and even if the nursing home caters to patients’ specific dietary needs.
Pat McGinnis, executive director of consumer group California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), says that nursing homes never end up facing consequences for abusing or neglecting their residents. It is the patients who need to be “very, very careful,” she says. Also, it is a fact that those patients with frequent visitors are the least likely to suffer.
Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that more than 90 percent of nursing homes in the country were cited for violations of federal health and safety standards in 2007. This study also found that for-profit nursing homes were more likely to have problems than non-profit operations.
Such reports can make it tougher for families to find the right nursing home for their loved ones. Here is a useful fact sheet from CANHR’s Web site about how to choose a good nursing home.
If your loved one has suffered injuries or you have lost a loved one and suspect nursing home abuse, please call me to talk about it.