Florida Nursing Home Safety
When a family is faced with the difficult decision of placing one or both of their aging parents in a long-term care facility or a nursing home, there are many factors that come into play. A common reason for putting your parents into a nursing home is that your parent(s) need around the clock supervision, medical care and a team of skilled nurses that can come to your parent’s aid at any moment. Another reason for placing an aging family member in a long-term care facility is when they are unable to properly take care of themselves and become fully dependent on others to eat, maintain hygiene, move etc. Sometimes looking after elderly parents in your own home becomes too stressful and time consuming, and for their own mental health, they decide the best thing is to move their family member to a nursing home.
When the final decision has been made to move your parent into a nursing home facility because professional care is required, there are certain steps you can take to ensure you have chosen the right facility to care for your loved ones. Some of the most important things to consider before placing your parent into a nursing home are:
Nursing Home and Administrative Staff
One of the first questions you might want to ask when researching nursing homes is, “what is the staff to resident ratio?” You can come prepared for the answer by researching before you visit potential facilities. A great resource for staffing data listed state-by-state is from the website of the nonprofit Long Term Care Community Coalition. Annually, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conducts inspections on all nursing and long-term care facilities. Survey data, reports and ratings are all available to the public, and should also be posted at the facility. You should look for low deficiencies, and be on the lookout for deficiencies within the categories of mistreatment, actual harm or immediate jeopardy. These are clear red flags that this facility is not a safe place for your loved ones. On top of these points to consider, you may want to request background checks for staff as well as ask for staff turn-around numbers.
Fall Safety and Prevention Measures
According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury to the elderly. While it is nearly impossible to avoid all falls at nursing homes, there are some measures that the facility can put in place to encourage safer practices amongst staff and residents. Creating unique and individualized care plans for each resident is a great tool for reducing traumatic injuries due to falls. Well trained staff that can pin-point hazards and risks to each patient and make appropriate changes in a timely manner can help drastically reduce the risk of minor and major injuries due to falls. Some other tools to reduce fall risks are promoting physical activity to increase strength and mobility, clearing any hazards from the floor, placing non-slip mats and carpets, and using the correct medical aids such as walkers and canes when moving around.
Security Measures in Nursing Homes
It’s great if the facility you are considering placing your parent in has a high standard of security measures. There should be cameras in all entrances and exits, as well as protocols for visitors and check-in policies. The use of security cameras not only helps keep residents safe from intruders, it also helps keep those residents with cognitive issues like Alzheimer's from wandering off premises. You can also consider placing cameras inside your parent’s unit in order to monitor their care and prevent nursing home abuse. In addition to cameras, you should also ask about their emergency preparedness and protocols in the event of any local or natural disaster. On top of this, ask about fire safety and evacuation plans.
Medication Error Prevention
The improper administration of medicine can be a potentially fatal error made by nursing home staff. It’s important to ask what the standard system for administering both pharmaceutical and over-the-counter medicine is. Typically, nursing homes have a well-planned system in place where medications are measured and separated in advance, and placed in sealed plastic bags. Each dose is cross-referenced and double checked. With the ever changing technologies, it has become easier than ever for nursing homes to keep digital records and reports of medications, allergies and adverse effects.
Due to the living conditions of multi-person nursing homes, most residents are in close contact with each other, therefore the spread of infectious diseases can pose a very real and dangerous risk. We all learned this during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is still affecting our elderly populations. One of the more common illnesses found inside nursing homes is influenza, which could easily progress into pneumonia. Besides staff and residents being vaccinated, it is important to keep up with good hygiene practices like regular washing of hands, keeping common areas clean and sanitized, and wearing masks when necessary. Unfortunately, antibiotic resistant infections continue to be a major problem at these types of facilities. Common ways residents get infections are from contact with others, bed sores, catheters etc. It’s very important the staff and administrators take the risks of infections very seriously!
Balancing Safety, Independence and Comfort
According to Carol Bradley Bursack, Author, speaker, columnist and eldercare consultant, “Trying to maintain a home-like atmosphere for vulnerable elders while keeping them safe is not an easy task. Yet, the public has increased their expectations of modern nursing homes, forcing them to examine their approaches to common problems and concerns. Many skilled nursing facilities have fostered a culture of safety among their employees and found ways of using technology and person-centered care to improve the quality of care and quality of life for their residents. Perfection may never be reached in these settings, but the happiness and security of elders in nursing homes is becoming a requirement instead of an added benefit. To me, that's great news.” Read the Full Story here
If you suspect your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or wrongful death, contact Robert today at 954.583.8999 for a free case consultation.