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How to Pick a Safe Nursing Home for Your Loved One

Published on Mar 2, 2017 at 12:35 am in Nursing Home Neglect.

When someone you love is no longer able to safely live on their own, trusting their care to strangers is not easy.  Choosing the right nursing home facility is an overwhelming decision.  When visiting potential nursing homes, there are a few things you should look for.

First, how does the food look and taste?  The look and taste of food is especially important for elderly people as sensory sensitivity often diminishes with age.  Dining in the nursing home cafeteria with your loved one is a great way to see what and how well they might eat there.

What sounds do you hear?  Residents moaning or yelling might be unsettling, but they are rarely signs of poor treatment.  Dementia can cause these involuntary actions.  The important sounds to pay attention to are how the members of staff address the residents and each other.  Staff members addressing residents by their name instead of “Grandpa” or “Grandma” is a sign of respect and a desire to have a personal relationship with each resident.  And staff members that can be heard and observed working well together is a good sign that the residents are receiving comprehensive care.

What does it smell like?  Nursing homes often have strange odors.  And to some extent, this is unavoidable.  Medications and diets can cause flatulence, and as people age, they tend to lose control of their bladders and bowels.  But a strong urine odor is a sign that the facility is not being cleaned properly.

Ask the nursing home staff members if they work a lot of overtime or double shifts.  If a nursing home is short-staffed, resident care will suffer.  An overworked staff will be tired and stressed and more likely to make mistakes.  You can check a facility’s staff ratio rating using the Nursing Home Compare Tool at

Staff members standing around talking while residents sit in wheelchairs looking bored is not a good sign that the facility has an active or engaging environment.  Residents sitting out front watching people come and go is not necessarily a bad thing; it is better than residents staying cooped up in their rooms.  But staff members should be spending their free time visiting with residents and encouraging activity.  A quality facility will have a daily calendar full of potential activities your loved one can enjoy.

How does the home handle a fall?  Even with the best care, accidental falls can still occur.  A quality nursing home facility will have rules in place to govern how the staff should react.  Staff should check for initial injuries and continue to monitor for delayed injury symptoms in the coming days.  A meeting with the resident’s family should also be arranged in order to discuss the happenings of the fall and what safety changes, such as lowering the bed or using a chair alarm, can be made to prevent a fall from happening again in the future.

Finally, a facility must be willing to make special arrangements to meet the specific care needs of each patient.  Facilities with rules to only change six diapers a day or to only rotate bedridden residents every three hours are often facilities with frequent bedsore and wound problems.  Nursing assistants should know the different routines and specific needs of each resident to ensure that every resident receives the appropriate, specialized level of care.

Urban & Taylor S.C., Milwaukee, WI nursing home abuse lawyer, is committed to making a difference in long term care.  Our experienced legal team has a proven track record for successfully holding facilities accountable.  Contact Urban & Taylor, S.C. today for a free no-obligation consultation of your nursing home abuse case.

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