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Q: My wife had a stroke a few weeks ago and she will be moving to a nursing home after she gets out of the hospital. I’ve seen television news reports about horrible conditions in those places. How can I recognize a dangerous nursing home?

A:

It’s definitely a significant challenge to know when you can trust a skilled nursing facility to care for your loved one. Compounding the difficulty is that, because of high demand for nursing home space, you may not have many choices with a vacancy available when you need it.

It pays to be selective, even if that may mean choosing a nursing home that is not in your immediate neighborhood. Check with friends and neighbors to see if they have any recommendations—or if they can tell you about a dangerous nursing home you ought to avoid. Try to visit each candidate nursing home to get your own sense of the place. Talk to administrators and residents.

Pre-admission Issues that Deserve your Attention

During your visit before your wife is admitted to a nursing home, here are some issues you will want to look out for:

  • An emphasis on cleanliness. Staff members frequently wash and sanitize their hands and wear gloves and face masks where appropriate.
  • Close monitoring of patient infections. While the facility will not release confidential personal information about residents, ask to see a recent “mortality and morbidity report”—a statistical record of deaths and illnesses.
  • Regular visits by physicians or nurse practitioners to check up on residents’ health.
  • Close tracking of resident medication. Prescription drugs should be apportioned and delivered by a team of at least two well-trained professionals to make sure the right dosage is given on time to the correct resident.
  • Adequate staffing. Entrances, dayrooms, common areas, and dining rooms should have staff members on duty at all times.
  • Restraint-free living. There should be no use of physical restraints on patients.
  • Barrier-free living. Corridors and rooms that are free of barriers that may impede residents or cause a fall.
  • Adequate nutrition. Older and infirm people often have difficulty eating, reduced appetites, or an aversion to eating. Nursing home administrators should be able to explain how they ensure each resident gets adequate food and hydration for good health.
  • Monitoring of residents’ special medical needs. People with mobility problems or diabetes need regular attention to prevent medical complications. Make sure the nursing home treats these conditions seriously.
  • Pest infestations. Mouse droppings in hallways or dark corners, or roach traps deployed throughout the building (especially in residents’ rooms, kitchens, or dining areas) should be red flags alerting you to potentially unsanitary conditions.

Long-term Care Facilities Should Provide Great Care to Residents

Your wife deserves to be treated with dignity, respect, and kindness while she is a resident of a Pennsylvania nursing home. Caregivers should not act as if she is a burden. If your wife witnesses or experiences unprofessional or unsafe behavior, that should be reported to nursing home supervisors and to your nursing home neglect lawyer.

The Law Firm of Schmidt Kramer is dedicated to the idea that abuse and neglect in assisted living facilities is not acceptable. We aggressively pursue justice when people have been injured in dangerous Pennsylvania nursing homes. The compensation we can obtain may cover emotional distress and suffering as well as economic losses. If you believe you or your spouse may have the grounds for a lawsuit in Harrisburg, Carlisle, York, or other nearby towns, call us at 717-888-8888 locally or 888-476-0807 toll-free to schedule a free, confidential case review with our trial attorney. We would be glad to answer any questions you may have.

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