How to Ensure Quality of Care When Moving a Loved One to a Nursing Home

Many families want to be able to care for their aging loved ones from the comfort of their own homes. Unfortunately, this can become a physically and emotionally taxing situation in some cases. Physical disabilities, life-threatening diseases, and mental illness can complicate the caregiving process. In other instances, a change in a caregiver’s job responsibilities or scheduling constraints could necessitate transferring an older family member to a nursing home.

No matter why you decide to entrust your aging relative’s care to a nursing facility, the move can cause stress. It’s difficult to abandon your caregiving role because it may feel like abandoning your loved one, full stop. However, moving your family member to such a facility could be the best thing for them. 

Nursing homes can offer 24-hour supervision, three square meals a day, and opportunities to socialize with peers. To verify that the elder you love is in good hands, here’s how to ensure quality of care when moving them to a nursing home.

Research Your Chosen Nursing Home Carefully

You may fear giving up the caregiving role because you don’t know how others will treat your beloved senior. Given highly publicized cases of nursing home abuse and neglect, it’s natural to worry. Consider consulting with nursing home abuse attorneys beforehand so you know what to do if your loved one is ever mistreated. For peace of mind, you should also diligently research nursing homes before signing any long-term care agreement.

Some states maintain nursing home report cards. These reports give nursing facilities in the state a rating based on several key factors. Facilities with good health inspection results, staff ratings, resident satisfaction, and other quality and safety measures receive high scores. Naturally, facilities that perform poorly in these areas have lower ones.

Search online to see whether your state maintains an official nursing home report card. This is typically maintained by the state’s department of health and human services. Medicare also maintains a directory of nursing homes across the nation. It includes facility ratings and offers a compare feature so you can quickly analyze multiple facilities side by side. Use these resources to help you choose a highly rated facility that will ease the transfer of care for your aging relative.

Stay Involved in Your Loved One’s Care

Nursing homes have many residents to care for and monitor. It’s not unreasonable to worry that some aspects of your aging family member’s well-being might fall through the cracks. You are your loved one’s most passionate advocate. You may also be their only voice if they are unable to communicate for themselves. As such, you should always stay intimately involved in their lives and keep lines of communication open with nursing staff.

In addition to visiting your aging relative often, be persistent about asking questions. For example, ask the nursing staff if your loved one’s health or mood has changed since you last visited. Inquire about any medications they are receiving and note the dosage and administration frequency. Ask about your relative’s eating schedule and make sure they aren’t skipping meals.

If an issue arises during your regular visits and inquiries, take it up with the nursing home first. Most receive funding from the federal government and are therefore required to honor resident rights. The facility must provide a written response to any complaint they receive. If you don’t receive a resolution or response, you may need to contact your lawyer or local nursing home ombudsman. An ombudsman is typically a state employee who advocates for nursing home residents and their families and works to resolve problems.

Learn How to Recognize Signs of Neglect

Researching nursing facilities and selecting one with an excellent rating increases your relative’s likelihood of receiving continuity of care. But that doesn’t mean you can let your guard down completely. You should always remain watchful and vigilant on your loved one’s behalf. That includes learning how to check for and recognize signs of neglect.

Negligence is not as violent as abuse, but it can be just as harmful to your beloved elder’s health. Negligence can be as simple as leaving a non-mobile resident stranded in their room for hours. It could also be as sinister as refusing to treat a resident’s illnesses or injuries. With a watchful eye, you can learn how to recognize when neglect is occurring so you can take prompt action.

Some of the most common indicators of neglect include poor personal hygiene. If you see issues such as decaying teeth or soiled bedding or diapers, your loved one isn’t receiving proper care. Bedsores are another typical sign of neglect and often occur when residents aren’t adequately repositioned or moved throughout the day. Finally, obvious injuries could indicate abuse by nursing home staff. Contact law enforcement and a nursing home abuse lawyer immediately if you have reason to believe your family member is being abused.

Older adults can do quite well in high-quality nursing homes. In many cases, such a facility may be able to provide a higher level of care than you could provide at home. But moving a loved one to such a facility can be an understandably emotional process. Follow these steps for greater peace of mind and to ensure a smoother transition. 

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