Avoiding Elder Abuse

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Since 1985, the number of elderly people residing in nursing homes or assisted living facilities has continued to decline. One reason for this slump is the lack of stable medical insurance plans for the elderly. However, the primary reason individuals are turning to private home care as opposed to nursing homes is because of the growing distrust for them. Shockingly, over 30 percent of nursing homes in this country have been cited for instances of elder abuse. Nevertheless, private home care is an unattainable option for some, and many must rely on nursing homes to provide care. There are many facts to consider before choosing the right location for your family member:

Experienced Staff
Take time to research various facilities in the area. Check the history and qualifications of all staff members to be sure they can provide your loved one with optimal care. An easy way to accomplish this task is to seek references and recommendations. Determine what the requirements are for employment at your chosen establishments. Make sure that administrators conduct background checks and drug testing prior to hiring. You need a nursing home that employs individuals with experience in the field. They should know how to handle individuals with a variety of needs. Staff should have certification requirements as well. Speak with other individuals who have relatives residing in the facility to determine if the establishment has a good standing reputation.

Before choosing a nursing home, make sure you visit them and make observations. It is always important to note the environmental conditions of the nursing home. While you want to be sure your loved one is cared for in sanitary conditions, you should also take note of other residents. Are they enjoying recreational activities, or are they kept in isolation? You may be required to make multiple visits to the facility in order to understand the true nature of the environment. If residents are kept isolated, or it appears that individuals are not efficiently cared for, this could be a good indicator of neglect. On your visits, be sure to converse with residents for testimonials. This is also a good time to learn about policies and regulations of the nursing home. While you want the home to be secure, you also should consider a facility with a general sense of openness. Ask employees about visiting hours. If a facility is reputable and has nothing negative to hide, they are likely to encourage your visits. Moreover, it is against the law to prohibit a family member from visiting, so homes that enforce strict visiting hours should raise some suspicions.

Cheaper is not always better. While the cost of a residence is an important factor, it should not always be the primary one. When researching employee qualifications, ask about salary information as well. If employees are underpaid, chances are, administrators are focused more on generating profits than on providing optimal care. Moreover, employees that are underpaid tend to resent their jobs, and residents suffer in the long-term. You should also consider a facility that accepts Medicare and Medicaid insurance. Homes that are financially burdened avoid admitting seniors with these insurance plans because they often do not reimburse expenses in full. However, facilities that accept these insurance plans and offer a wide variety of payment options are likely to provide the best care.

Number of Employees
Since the late 1980s, the federal government has enforced strict regulations regarding staff-resident ratios and other requirements related to the number of employees needed for sufficient care. You must be cautious of these regulations when choosing a nursing home because over 56 percent of homes in this country still fall below the minimum licensed staff requirements. Regulations tend to vary by state, but all must abide by certain government mandated standards in order to fall into compliance.

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to locate non-profit nursing homes. With this shift to profit-based care, many employees and administrators are expressing low levels of sympathy for senior citizens residing in nursing homes. With this changing mentality towards seniors and the lack of adequate care provided, it is critical to research any potential facilities you may be considering for your loved one.


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