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Today Your Legal Corner will discuss “Maximizing Nursing Home Safety While Minimizing Abuse.”
Informal advocacy on behalf of a nursing home resident by a family member, friend or even a professional can be productive. Advocacy opens up the lines of communication and addresses a present need or problem before any formal type of litigation is required.
Generally, there are six cardinal issues to look for regarding improper nursing home care:
(1) Incontinence, possibly due to staff non-attendance of a resident’s bathroom needs.
(2) Malnutrition, resulting when dietary requirements are not met.
(3) Poor hygiene caused by a failure to shower, comb hair, and brush teeth regularly.
(4) Dehydration, triggered by a patient’s lack of fluid intake.
(5) Contracture, from a restriction in a person’s range of motion due to not walking or moving. (6) Lastly, be aware of any sudden loss of independence.
These are the types of issues to be aware of and observe when visiting your loved one in a facility. The idea is to be proactive and address a negative situation promptly and calmly.
My colleague, Donald F. Browne Jr., also with the law firm of Hoffman DiMuzio, specializes in nursing home litigation. He will tell you that legal action should be used only as a last resort. Rather, utilize Browne’s tips as stated below to maximize resident safety and minimize resident abuse:
When your loved one has entered a facility, introduce yourself to the nursing home’s Administrator and Director of Nursing; as well as the members of the nursing staff. Learn their names. Take an active role in selecting the Primary Care Physician (PCP). The PCP plays an important role in the health and well-being of the nursing home resident.
Next make sure to attend the Care Plan Conference. During a Care Plan Conference, a document called a Care Plan is created which identifies the specific needs, risks, and goals for each resident. Review your loved one’s Care Plan with the PCP. Periodically communicate directly with the PCP to make sure they are aware of all current information.
Further, when visiting your loved one, do it at different times during the day. Learn the names of other residents who live in or around your loved one’s room. Introduce yourself to their family. Exchange phone numbers. Agree to keep an eye on the other’s loved one when visiting; and to call each other to discuss anything that might be suspicious.
Take many photographs of the room and your loved one. This is especially true to document any time that your loved one is injured. Some families have even successfully installed hidden cameras to document abuse. Communicate to the Director of Nursing that appropriate members of the family would like to periodically witness your loved one’s clothing changes to personally see their skin.
If you think there may be a problem, write down names, dates, times, and what happened. All complaints or problems should be made in writing to the Administrator. Should you suspect abuse or neglect immediately contact the New Jersey Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly. The “Ombudsman” investigates allegations of abuse and neglect for people age 60 and older, who live in nursing homes and other long-term health care facilities. The Ombudsman maintains a 24-hour hotline for complaints about abused and neglected nursing home residents: 1-877-582-6995.
Thank you, Donnie Browne! Till next week , God bless, keep smiling and remember who is in Your Legal Corner … when YLC will examine ”The Affordable Care Act.”
Kindly note YLC is not legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, seek out the services of a competent professional.
Victoria M. Dalton, Esquire is an attorney practicing Elder /Family law with the Law firm of Hoffman DiMuzio. Ms. Dalton may be contacted by phone at 856-863-8776 or 856-845-8243, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
South Jersey Media Group and nj.com accept no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to the information in this article.
More Safety Info:
- After fatal South Jersey fires, check home safety – Gloucester County Times
- Nursing home safety plans lacking
- Study Finds Accreditation Improves Safety Culture at Nursing Homes
- Answer to Attempts to Limit Pennsylvania Nursing Home Safety
- Nursing home safety: Special safety tips for the elderly or disabled