Tips on How to Select and Vet a Nursing Home in Florida on Short Notice
While securing a family member's admission to a nursing home is a process which is often undertaken on short notice and under pressing circumstances, there are a few steps screening tips that, if followed, can help to provide reassurance that the best decision has been made.
What's the difference between rehabilitation and nursing home care?As a Florida nursing home abuse lawyer, I often receive calls from people who would like to know how to differentiate the good nursing homes from the bad. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. I do have a few tips, however, on how to go about selecting and vetting a nursing home in Florida.
Most nursing homes provide two general types of services: short-term rehabilitation and long-term care. Short-term rehab is often the first exposure a family ever has to a nursing home.
Let's say that mom is living at home independently, but she has a mishap and falls and breaks her hip. At the hospital she undergoes a successful surgery to repair the fracture. Her doctor then orders four to six weeks of rehab so that she can improve her strength and mobility and return to her independent lifestyle at home. Mom will most likely be discharged to an area nursing home to receive that rehabilitation. The hospital*s social worker pays a visit and provides a list of local nursing homes with available beds.
Here is where family members and mom need to apply the brakes. Don*t automatically say *yes* to the first nursing home on the list. Why? Nursing homes employ marketing representatives, and they often provide gifts and lunches to hospital social workers in order to solicit referrals. So, instead of saying *yes* to the first choice provided, take a little time to do your homework. In addition to performing a search online and reviewing news articles, blog posts, reviews and comments people have posted concerning the nursing home and its corporate operator, you should also consider visiting two government websites to obtain information regarding a particular nursing home's track record.
View online resources that provide information on a nursing home's track recordThe Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration operates a website located at FloridaHealthFinder.gov. This website contains information concerning all nursing homes licensed by the State of Florida, including their recent inspection reports. Additionally, if you Google the search term *Nursing Home Compare,* you will find a website run by Medicare that rates nursing homes based on several quality indicators, including staffing levels.
There is no substitute for an in-person visit to the nursing homeIn addition to investigating a nursing home online, you should also make plans to visit the facility in person before your loved one is admitted. A pre-admission inspection can go a long way toward spotting early warning signs. Use your senses. How does the facility smell? Do you hear residents frequently crying out for help? Does there appear to be enough staff around? Do residents' needs appear to be met? What is the overall atmosphere like? Visits at different times of the day can result in differing impressions. If possible, seek out and speak with family members of other residents. They*re often able to provide valuable insight as to the quality of care being provided by staff.
Under-staffing is the root cause of harm that occurs in most nursing homesEven those individuals being admitted for short term rehab are at risk in a troubled nursing home. Since most patients admitted to a nursing home directly from a hospital require assistance with many of their activities of daily living, for instance* using the bathroom, walking, dressing, and eating, the availability of sufficient staff is critical toward making sure that their needs are met. In the absence of sufficient nursing home staff, we often see residents who suffer a decline in health. Understaffing is the root cause of most harm that occurs in nursing homes.
If only one aid is assigned to care for 20 residents, you are going to have problems. The aids provide the vast majority of hands-on care and assistance in the nursing home. In the absence of sufficient staffing, it becomes predictable that some residents will suffer bed sores, falls and injury, malnutrition, dehydration, medication errors, infection and other harm.
The goals of the nursing home corporation may conflict with the goals of the resident and their family. Frequently, nursing homes appear reluctant to send a resident out to the hospital, even after they have suffered a significant change in their condition. Why? The nursing home's rating is determined, in part, by the number of re-hospitalizations that occur over a given time period.
If presented with admission paperwork to sign, cross out and do not sign the "arbitration agreement"Around the time of admission, you will be asked to sign paperwork. This admissions paperwork contains something that is very bad for consumers and families*. Something called an *arbitration agreement.* Legally, you can and should refuse to sign the arbitration agreement. Cross out that section and do not sign the arbitration clause. By signing the arbitration clause, the nursing home will worry a little less about whether your mom or dad is provided with the best care during their stay. By signing and agreeing to arbitration, you waive an important constitutional right to hold the nursing home operator accountable in a court of law in the event they harm your loved one.
What to watch for after your loved-one is admitted to the nursing homeNo matter where your loved one is admitted, it makes good sense to visit and visit often. Change up the timing of your visits so that the nursing home never knows when to expect you. Do not be bashful. Express any issues or concerns that come to your attention to staff. And do not be afraid to take those concerns all the way to the administrator if the response seems lacking.
What should family members of nursing home residents be on the lookout for after their loved one is admitted? Watch out for any changes in mental status, weight, stamina, mood and level of dependence on others. Increases in pain and discomfort should also be monitored.
Since you know the resident better than anyone, do not hesitate to bring these changes to the attention of the nursing staff, director, and physician as soon as possible. A bed sore can develop in a matter of hours. If you believe that the nursing home and its staff are neglecting to respond to your concerns, do not hesitate to arrange for transfer of the resident to a local hospital.