Deciding where you or your loved one will live is always an important decision, but even more so when entering a nursing home or assisted care facility. In working on cases involving nursing home abuse and mistreatment, one thing is clear: not all nursing homes are alike. I spoke with attorney Nick DiCello, who has been helping injured and abused nursing home patients get justice for years, about what he would look for in he were helping a loved one find a nursing home.
Are you looking for a nursing home? Have you had a good (or bad) experience with a nursing home? Be sure to leave a comment below (it’s quick and easy!) with suggestions and your own experience. Other IB members, please share your thoughts!
- Research. Once you find a potential nursing home, there are great resources available to do quick research, some of which I’ve written about in the past. For example, the Medicare website has a tool to research nursing homes that provides great information. Start there. With today’s technology, you can do a lot of the research without leaving your computer.
- Make an appointment and visit the facility. While your initial research can save you a lot of time—and disqualify unsafe or unclean locations—you want to visit the facility before deciding. Be sure to explore the areas you or your loved one will be using—for eating, sleeping, and recreation—as well as the staff areas—like where they prepare the food or store medicine. I’ve seen medicine stored with food, vermin infesting food preparation areas, you name it.
- Speak with the staff. Not just the tour-guide or facility management, but the people you are trusting to support your loved ones every day. Look for people who seem engaged and caring in what they’re doing.
- Speak with residents. Just a casual conversation or two can help you decide if your loved one would be happy. When I’ve seen cases of neglect or injury, it often affects multiple residents, sometimes all of them.
- Refuse to sign an arbitration agreement. People disagree about whether arbitration agreements are all bad, or just mostly bad, for consumers. In some states—including Ohio—you cannot be forced to sign an arbitration clause before being accepting into a nursing home. If a nursing home won’t let you join without one, look elsewhere.
- Execute a power of attorney before your loved one enters a facility. Once your loved one decides on a facility, in the event of an incident or injury, you need to have a properly-executed power of attorney to get quick access to medical records and investigation reports. You don’t want to have to jump through these hoops while also trying to handle such a difficult and potentially-tragic situation as an injury.
- Know your rights! You and your loved one have rights, and the nursing home facility is providing a service, not a favor. I’ve written about Ohio’s Nursing Home Bill of Rights; facilities are required to provide you with a copy of the relevant provisions in your location.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Start with the understanding that you, your loved one, and the facility will maintain communication, and then keep in touch. Nothing substitutes for communication to keep the staff focused on providing top-level care.
Thanks to Nick for sharing his experience. Anything to add? Share your comments below!