With all the worries about elder abuse and negligence in nursing homes, it’s natural to worry about which homes might be best for your loved one. It’s important to know that not all nursing homes are horror stories waiting to happen. There are many fine facilities providing excellent care. But you need to know what to look for. Here are a few tips that can steer you away from a bad nursing home.
Medicare Star Ratings
Any nursing home that accepts Medicare or Medicaid has to submit to inspections by the government. From these inspections, each nursing home is given a star rating from 1 star (worst) to 5 stars (best). There is an overall score as well as separate scores for health and fire safety inspections, staffing levels, and quality measurements. You should aim for a nursing home that is at least three stars or higher. A one-star home does meet the minimum requirements for federal safety and health but is considered to be of far below average quality for your state.
You can check the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals website for information on safety violations.
Once you’ve found a home with a good star rating, the next thing to look for is whether the facility has the specialized staff and facilities your loved one needs. For instance, not all nursing homes are equipped to handle memory care issues or rare diseases. A good nursing home will be upfront about the kinds of care they can provide.
Also, the nursing home needs to have enough general staff. This is critical to avoid negligence. Many negligence cases happen because the staff is so overworked that they start to make errors. If the home is shown to not have enough staff to meet the needs of the patients and someone gets hurt, the home can be held liable.
If it is possible to do so, tour any homes you’re considering in person before selecting one. Multiple times, if necessary. Your senses can tell you a lot about how well a home is run. Do you see neglect? Can you smell anything you shouldn’t? How do the residents look? Are they healthy and happy?
Touring also lets you get information you can’t get from reports. For instance, do they have limited visiting hours for family? Will they have enough space for your loved one to continue a hobby? What are the regular activities at the home?
Trust your instincts and the instincts of your loved one as well. Even if a home looks good on paper, if you or your loved one get a bad feeling, go somewhere else!
Finally, visit the nursing home regularly. Nursing homes notice when families come by often. If you’re talking with your loved one and checking on them physically, you may be able to catch things before something serious happens. Nursing homes can raise and lower in quality over time, so if your loved one is there for a long-term stay, make the time to visit them. And if the home has a management change, visit more often until you’re comfortable with the way they’re running things.
We encourage everyone to carefully consider their choice of a nursing home and keep tabs on residents’ health and safety. If you suspect neglect or abuse, please contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney who will treat you with respect and prioritize justice in your case.