When a nursing home begins to neglect its duties and responsibilities, patient care can fall through the cracks. Patient care often suffers in regard to hygiene when nursing homes are negligent. Serious issues and consequences can arise if the facility isn’t kept clean. In many cases, those facilities should be held accountable for abuse.
Nursing home residents become vulnerable to germs and bacteria that can exacerbate their current medical conditions or create new ones. It’s important to ensure your loved one is being cared for properly and to take the necessary legal steps in the event they are not.
Poor Hygiene Signs in Nursing Homes
Poor hygiene can manifest in the conditions of the facility or with the residents themselves. If you notice on your visits to see your loved one that their sheets need to be changed, their bathroom is dirty, the kitchen seems questionable, or the common areas seem unclean, the nursing home staff may be neglecting their duties.
Your loved one may also not be getting the assistance they need with their own personal hygiene habits. If you notice your loved one has not been brushing their teeth regularly, bathing, keeping their hair or nails groomed, or seems to be dressing in a completely different manner, you have a right to question how the facility is caring for your family member.
Consequences of Poor Hygiene in Nursing Homes
A dirty nursing home can impose serious health threats to residents. Residents are being put at risk for increased exposure to conditions that can lead to otherwise preventable infections. While some of these infections are minor, a majority are caused by serious bacteria that may have a resistance to antibiotics. If this resistant infection spreads to multiple residents, there’s the risk of a devastating outbreak.
The most common infections that develop in poor hygiene conditions are:
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
- Bacterial pneumonia
- Bedsore or pressure sore infections
- Herpes zoster
- Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
Sometimes, infections can be more difficult to detect and diagnose in elderly patients. If they are younger, most individuals experience a fever and an increase in white blood cells if they have an infection; however, older patients may not exhibit those signs. Unfortunately, this means that infections can go untreated for too long. If you are worried your loved one might have an infection, be on the lookout for the following signs:
- Change in mental state
- Loss of appetite
- Increased risk of falls
Correlation Between Poor Hygiene and Understaffing
Unfortunately, there is a relationship between nursing home sanitation and understaffing. When staff members are dealing with multiple situations at one time, they may forget to wash their hands in between treating different patients. Germs can easily spread this way, infecting different residents in different ways.
Employees may also have to care for a high number of patients, which leaves little time for cleaning patient care areas. If a specific schedule is not in place to delineate who is supposed to clean what areas when, it’s likely the facility will suffer.
Food contamination can also be an issue if food services workers do not follow the guidelines and procedures in place when it comes to handling food properly.
Quality of Care Regulations
Hygiene is critical in nursing homes. Not only are there patients who are medically compromised and vulnerable to unsanitary conditions, but your loved one has a right to dignified care. As a result, the federal government has established a list of requirements for states and long-term care facilities.
In regard to sanitation, nursing homes are required to supply their residents with hygiene supplies like combs, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, bath soaps, razors, shaving cream, cotton swabs, deodorant, incontinence care and supplies, tissues, towels, washcloths, hair and nail services, bathing assistance, and basic laundry.
All employees are supposed to receiving training on appropriate health and hygiene methods, and the facilities are to be kept clean to avoid spreading bacteria and germs. Employees are also supposed to receiving training that teaches them how to care for residents who are unable to perform their own personal hygiene duties.
If you believe your loved one’s nursing home isn’t doing everything in their power to provide their residents with clean and hygienic care, you have the right to take legal action. Our Milwaukee nursing home abuse lawyers are prepared to help you hold the negligent nursing home responsible, so your loved one can get the compensation they deserve, and so other residents are not plagued with filth in the future. Contact us today for more information about your legal rights and options.