Each year, many Columbia families are forced to make difficult decisions for their elderly loved ones. It is never easy to place a loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility. Additionally, when you are faced with this decision, it can be extremely difficult to know exactly which nursing home to pick. After all, there are so many different options available. When you open up the local Yellow Pages and search for “nursing homes in Columbia, South Carolina” you are inundated with several dozens options.This is not a decision that can be taken lightly; you need to pick the right spot. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect remains dishearteningly common. In fact, data recently released by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) indicates that at least 10 percent of all Americans over the age of 60 have reported experiencing some form of elder abuse. Alarmingly, this abuse often goes unreported. In fact, the NCOA study found that only around 7 percent of elder abuse is ever reported. When selecting a nursing home or assisted living facility for your vulnerable loved one, you need to keep their health and safety at the forefront of your mind. Please consider the following list of tips that will help you get through the Columbia nursing home selection process.
Six Tips to Help You Find the Right Nursing Home
1. Ask Trusted Friends and Neighbors
Trusted relatives, friends, coworkers and neighbors can also be a great resource. This is always a good place to start your search. You may be able to learn about facilities that might be right for your loved one. Further, and just as important, you may also be able to cross some nursing homes right off of your search list.
2. Prepare Questions Before Visiting
You should absolutely pay a visit to a nursing home before you make your final decision. When visiting, it is a good practice to come prepared with a list of questions to ask the staff. Exactly which questions will be important to you will always depend on the unique needs of your loved one. However, a basic list of questions that could be helpful include:
- What are your visiting hours?
- What is the procedure for stopping by outside of those hours?
- Are all exterior doors securely locked?
- How often can residents go outside?
- Is there a protected area where residents can go outside alone?
- What behavioral issues is the staff prepared to handle?
- Are there any behaviors that could result in a resident being removed from the facility?
- Do you offer and transportation or rehabilitation services?
- Can we select a room for our loved one?
- Do your residents have roommates?
- What is the policy regarding selection of roommates?
- How do you ensure that residents are protected from abuse?
- What is your policy on providing food for residents?
- How do residents bathe and how do you ensure proper hygiene?
This is simply a very brief list of questions, it is far from an exhaustive list. It is critical that you are prepared with comprehensive ahead that will that ensure that the issues facing you and your family are adequately addressed. Finally, it is a good idea to make at least one unscheduled visit to the facility before you move your loved one in on a long-term basis. South Carolina nursing homes tend to be on their best behavior when they know you are coming. An unannounced visits will help make sure that their normal behavior matches their best behavior.
3. Watch the Staff
You can learn a lot about a nursing home by simply watching staff. When visiting, it is always important to keep your eyes on all staff members. How do they interact with the residents? More importantly, how to residents interact with them? If the other residents seem withdrawn or uncomfortable around staff, that should raise some red flags.
4. Look at the Data
Anecdotes and observations are both very valuable. You can learn a lot by speaking to your friends and family and by checking out the facility with your own eyes. Still, it is also useful to take a look at some more objective forms of data. South Carolina nursing homes are required to provide the results of their most recent state nursing assessment. You should always get your hands on this information. Beyond that, you may be able to obtain additional useful information by searching for the facility using Medicare’s nursing home comparison tool.
5. Trust Your Instincts
When visiting a Columbia nursing home, you may notice that you get a ‘bad feeling’ about the place. In some cases, you may not be able to pinpoint exactly why you feel the way that you do. This is relatively common. Remember, it is always better to err on the side of caution. If a specific facility gives you a bad feeling, it is best to move on and keeping looking for somewhere better.
6. Know the Signs of Abuse and Neglect
Protecting your loved one from nursing home abuse requires ongoing effort. Even if you are fully confident in the facility that you have selected, you should still always keep a close eye on your loved one. You need to be aware of all of the common signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. Specifically, you should watch out for:
- Unexplained bruises or other physical injuries;
- Patient dehydration or malnutrition;
- Bed sores;
- Emotional agitation or depression;
- Frequent staff turnover; and
- Reluctance to speak when staff members are present.
Finally, if your loved one complains about the facility, you should always take their concerns seriously. Even if you believe that your vulnerable loved one may not currently be a reliable source of information, you still owe it to them to thoroughly follow-up on their concerns.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
The experienced South Carolina nursing home abuse attorneys at Joye Law Firm can help. Our team has helped many nursing home residents recover the compensation and benefits that they rightfully deserve. If you believe that your loved one has been abused or neglected at a nursing home, please contact our Columbia office today to schedule an immediate review of your case. We review all nursing home abuse and neglect case free of charge.