It’s not an easy decision to place an elderly loved one into a nursing home or other long-term care facility. It’s made even harder if you face the uncertainty of whether your parent or relative will receive the proper care. Even worse can be the fear of criminal neglect and assault.
There are steps you can take, however, to select a suitable long-term care facility, and places to turn if you suspect a nursing home hasn’t lived up to state and federal regulated standards. If you suspect there is criminal neglect or even abuse, you can file a criminal complaint. The most important thing for you to remember is that you are not helpless in preventing or halting harm from being inflicted on a nursing home resident.
Nursing Home Checklist
When selecting a nursing home, it’s best to do your homework first, then visit the facilities you’re considering before making a final decision.
The Nursing Home Compare page at the Medicare website allows you to look for long-term care facilities near your location, and compare nursing home ratings on Medicare’s online database. Medicare rates the facilities on a one to five star scale based on health inspections, staffing and quality derived from clinical data.
If you find a good prospect, you can visit the nursing home. First, however, review the checklist for choosing a nursing home posted on the Michigan.gov website to know what to look for and what to ask. Tour the facility and notice the interaction between caregivers and residents. Ask residents how they keep occupied, how they like the meals. What’s the condition and cleanliness of the nursing home? The checklist goes into a good amount of details of what to consider. Use a new copy of the checklist for each facility you visit. This will give you the best chance to find the right place.
Look for Signs of Neglect and Abuse
What seems like the right place doesn’t always turn out so right for the new resident. If you have any suspicion of neglect or abuse, you should take the following steps.
- Visit often, but make the timing of your visits unpredictable. If the staff knows you come at noon on Tuesdays, they’re ready for you. Coming at random times lets you see what the situation is between planned visits.
- Keep a journal of your observations, which can be very valuable if you need to go into litigation.
- Take a camera. Shoot pictures of you and the resident which can show any changes over time that may be signs of neglect or abuse. Also take photos of the facility if you’re worried about conditions.
Even if you find your suspicious were unfounded, you just end up with more photos and spending more time with your loved one. If your suspicions grow, however, then you need to take action.
Who to Call
My page on Nursing Home Abuse / Negligence gives a partial list of patients or residents’ rights as set forth in the Michigan Public Health Code. Licensing of nursing homes in Michigan falls under the Long-Term Care Division of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The division has a web page explaining how to file a complaint. You should also report any issues directly to the facility’s administrative staff.
If you believe the issues you uncover falls into the realm of criminal abuse and neglect, you can call your local police, sheriff’s department, the Michigan State Police and even the state Attorney General’s office using the AG’s hotline: 800-24-ABUSE (800-242-2873).
In either case, you should also call an attorney to protect your rights and the rights of your loved one in a nursing home. A lawyer can advise you on action to take, including litigation, to stop the abuse and neglect from being inflicted on the patients.
At Giffel’s Law, the first call and consultation is free with no obligation. If you have concerns, feel free to give me a call.