It can be scary to turn over the care of your loved one to the strangers that work in a nursing home or similar residential care facility. It's easy to worry that your elderly relative or friend won't get the same kind of care they were getting at home. The truth is that most of the professionals that choose to work in elder care are caring, compassionate, and skilled. However, there are definitely worrying cases of abuse and neglect out there, and it's natural to be concerned about the quality of care your loved one will receive. You can help ensure your loved one's safety and good health by knowing the signs of neglect and keeping an eye out for anything suspicious. Take a look at a few telltale signs that you should be on the alert for.
Occasional short-staffing happens in nearly every medical facility, and by itself it isn't a sure sign that neglect is occurring. However, understaffing does make it more likely that neglect will happen – perhaps unintentionally – and if the issue is chronic, neglect is even more likely. Health officials say that understaffing is linked with problems like malnutrition, dehydration, and infections.
You may not be able to count the staff members at the nursing home, but there are ways to tell if the facility is understaffed. When you're visiting, look for call lights above the doors of the residents' rooms. Are they answered and turned off in a reasonable amount of time, or do they stay on without a response? Do staff members seem frustrated and rushed? Is it difficult to find a staff member when you want to talk to one? Do you rarely see the same staff members twice, even when you visit around the same days and hours? These are all signs that the nursing home may be understaffed.
Bed sores, or pressure sores, occur in bed-ridden or sedentary patients. These are a major red flag for nursing home neglect. This is because in most cases, bed sores are very preventable. Patients who are at risk for bed sores should be repositioned regularly in their beds or chairs and should have the heads of their beds elevated at no more than a 30 degree angle. Their skin should be kept clean and dry, they should be properly fed and hydrated, and the skin under any medical devices should be assessed daily.
These are relatively simple tasks that should be part of taking care of any patient. If a patient begins to develop bed sores, it's a sign that they may not be properly hydrated, that they aren't being turned or cleaned often or thoroughly enough, and that they aren't being monitored as they should be. There may be some cases where bedsores are unavoidable, but in many cases, they are a direct result of neglect.
Unexplained Health Problems
Chances are that your loved one already has some medical issues that caused them to need a nursing facility in the first place. Many elderly people develop multiple medical problems. Because of this, it can be tough to tell if an illness or health issue is the result of their pre-existing condition or the result of sub-par care. However, there are some problems that you should be on the lookout for.
Rapid weight loss that doesn't appear to be related to your loved one's health issues can be a big sign that something is wrong, especially if the patient needs assistance with eating. Weight loss may mean that meals are being skipped or that someone isn't taking the time to help them eat. Injuries like bruises or broken bones are another possible sign of neglect. Nursing facilities should have protocols in place that prevent patients from falling out of bed, slipping out of their chairs, or walking by themselves if they happen to be at risk for falling. When these injuries occur anyway, it's often a sign that someone wasn't attentive enough or failed to take proper safety precautions.
When you entrust the care of a loved one to a medical facility, you have the right to expect that they will be given the proper amount of attention and medical treatment. If you suspect that your loved one is being neglected in a nursing home, you and your loved one may be eligible for compensation for that neglect. An attorney in your area who specializes in malpractice and medical negligence can help you decide if you have a case. Contact a firm like Davidson Law Center Inc for more information.