One of the most difficult decisions you may have to make during the course of your adult life is the decision to move a parent into a nursing home. If, however, your parent requires the type and/or level of care that can only be provided by a long-term care (LTC) setting, you are making the right decision by seeking nursing home care. In fact, failing to do so would be putting your parent at risk for life-threatening illness and/or serious injury. If you have never had to choose a nursing home before, much less interact with one on a regular basis, you may feel as though you are in unchartered waters. To help you navigate the nursing home selection process, and the nursing home itself, the Kirkwood Elder Law lawyers at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC have provided the following tips.
Define Your Parents’ Needs
If you are looking for a nursing home it is because your parent needs a high level of care and/or a specific type of care only available at a nursing home. That, however, still leaves a myriad of reasons why your parent needs to be in a nursing home. Take some time to consider what your parent needs, from a medical standpoint, in a LTC facility. For example, does your parent need a physician on site 24 hours a day or does he/she need dementia care services?
Ask for His/Her Wishes
Now sit down and talk to your parent about what he/she wants in a LTC facility, assuming your parent remains capable of contributing to the decision-making process. Does your parent want a facility that focuses on social programs for residents or one that affords each resident a gardening spot? Is the menu offered at a facility at the top of the list of importance for your parent or the room size? Do not assume you know what is important to your parent. If he/she is capable of contributing to the conversation, sit down and ask.
Do Your Homework
Spend as much time as is necessary researching each possible facility. A good place to start your research is the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to check for complaints filed against a facility. Numerous complaints in a short period of time and/or serious complaints that remain unresolved or that have been substantiated or definitely signs to stay away from that facility.
Take a Tour
Once you have narrowed down the potential facilities to just a handful, schedule tours of each facility. At the same time, you should be able to meet with an administrator at the facility to ask questions and gather additional information.
Show Up Unannounced
Because any health care facility will show you its best possible “face” during a scheduled visit, make a point of showing up unannounced as well. If possible, show up during shift change to try and talk to some of the employees coming and going.
Once a facility has been chosen, you must remain vigilant. Despite your best efforts to prevent it, it is still possible that a predator works or lives at the facility or that the facility looks the other way when staff abuse or neglect residents. To ensure your parent’s safety and well-being, you must continue to be on alert for signs of a problem.
Act on Suspicions
If you begin to suspect that abuse or neglect is occurring, do not second guess your suspicions. Instead, act on them. If your parent is capable, have a very candid, but very sensitive, conversation with your parent about your suspicions. If your parent is unable to confirm or deny your growing concerns, it may be time to confront an administrator, make a police report, and/or consult with an experienced elder law attorney in your area.
Contact Kirkwood Nursing Home Lawyers
If you have additional questions or concerns, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar, or contact the experienced Elder Law lawyers at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.