Are you evaluating nursing homes and assisted living facilities on behalf of a loved one who can no longer reside at home? If so, you’re not alone. The population of older Americans is growing rapidly; in 2019, 16.5 percent of Americans were over 64 years old, and trends indicate that the percentage will just keep growing. Many individuals reach a point where health problems preclude them from living alone or with family members.
Evaluating long-term care facilities can be a challenging project with lots of stress and emotional upheaval. You want to ensure that there are reliable, experienced people taking care of your loved one. But it’s also important to give your loved one as much freedom as possible to make decisions and manage their own life. How do you choose a nursing home or assisted living facility that will provide the best quality of life?
At Boller & Vaughan, we understand how difficult it is to make long-term care decisions. We’re committed to helping Wisconsin residents care for their loved ones, especially those who can no longer care for themselves. We fight for justice on behalf of those who have been injured or neglected in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
What to Look for in a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility
According to U.S News & World Report, there are 348 nursing homes in Wisconsin. However, only 24 percent of those facilities received a 5 out of 5 rating from U.S. News. Many facilities don’t provide adequate care, and some nursing homes even perpetuate abuse and neglect. So how do you make sure you choose the right place for your loved one?
If you’ve never had to evaluate one of these facilities before, it can be an overwhelming experience. What should you look for? How can you tell if the staff members are trustworthy and capable of caring for your loved one? Here are some signs to look for to determine whether a nursing home or assisted living facility is safe.
It’s vital to make sure that a prospective living facility will get to know your loved one and treat them as an individual worthy of respect. The caregivers should do everything they can to protect the dignity and autonomy of their patients.
Ask whether your loved one will be allowed to maintain their normal routines and reasonable activities. Will the staff members learn and respect your loved one’s likes and dislikes?
If your loved one has a condition (such as dementia) that prevents them from expressing their desires and preferences, what is the protocol? A good nursing home or assisted living facility should have procedures in place to gather key information from trusted family members.
It’s important to ask the facility whether the same people will be consistently caring for your loved one. Consistency is always helpful to senior citizens.
A sudden change in caregivers can be quite distressing, especially for individuals with conditions such as dementia, vision impairment, or Alzheimer’s. In most cases, it’s best to choose a facility that keeps the same team of caregivers with the same patients.
Balance of safety and autonomy
When you’re evaluating assisted living facilities and nursing homes, it’s important to understand their policies on residents’ decision-making power. Generally, it’s best to allow individuals to retain as much independence and autonomy as possible without compromising their health or safety.
Will your loved one be able to make decisions about their personal life and routine, such as when to wake up and go to sleep? Are there food options your loved one can choose from? Will they be able to set certain times when they don’t wish to be disturbed? Maintaining a consistent routine can be key to your loved one’s well-being.
Comfortable living conditions
Finally, you should ask questions about the residents’ daily routine. If your loved one lives in this facility, what will their days look like? How often will your loved one get bathed? Will they have to get dressed each day? Do they have to each in the common dining room or can they eat privately in their rooms?
Think about a typical day. Will your loved one have time for individual and/or group activities? If so, what kind of activities are available? These are just a few examples of questions to ask. The goal is to get a clear understanding of what daily living is like at the long-term care facility.
Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Elder abuse is more common than most people believe. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), between 10 percent and 16 percent of elders experience abuse and/or neglect. The NCEA believes elder abuse is underreported and estimates that there are 24 unreported cases for every one reported case.
What are some of the signs of elder abuse and neglect?
- Unhygienic living spaces
- Unclean clothing
- Bruises, scrapes, and other injuries
- Signs of agitation or fear
Elder abuse is often a problem in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. When you are touring potential nursing homes and assisted living facilities, pay attention to the residents at each place. Do they look happy and well-cared-for? Keep an eye out for signs of abuse and neglect.
What to Do if You Suspect Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to spot neglect or abuse right away. It’s important to stay wary and check for possible signs of poor care whenever you visit. Encourage your loved one to talk with you about their experience and level of care (if possible).
If you do suspect neglect or abuse in a nursing home or assisted living facility, it’s vital to report it! You can file a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Division of Quality Assurance. You can also contact a nursing home abuse attorney to learn about your legal options.
Boller & Vaughan Fights Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are an important part of Wisconsin’s social infrastructure. They provide necessary care for individuals who can’t take care of themselves. Unfortunately, not all of these facilities provide excellent care; there are many instances of neglect and abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Madison and throughout Wisconsin.
Choosing the right long-term care facility for your loved one can be a difficult decision. It’s hard to know what level of care is appropriate and ensure that the facility you choose will provide reliable care and support.
At Boller & Vaughan, we focus on protecting the rights of those who have suffered neglectful or abusive actions at the hands of caregivers at nursing home facilities. We have the skills and knowledge to delve into the facts of your case, consider all available options, and advocate on your behalf. Our attorneys can help you pursue legal claims against negligent or abusive nursing homes and staff members. To schedule a free consultation with our Wisconsin nursing home neglect and abuse attorneys, call 608-268-0268 or contact us online.