The thought of putting a parent (or any older loved one) in a nursing home is rarely a happy thought. Making the decision to do so is equally unsettling. If you have given the matter sufficient contemplation, however, and decided that it is the only and best option, then you should turn your attention to picking the best nursing home. Toward that end, the attorneys at Legacy Care Law Firm put together a New Hampshire guide to choosing the right nursing home.
What You Need to Know about Elder Abuse
The number of older Americans has increased dramatically in recent decades and experts tell us that increase will continue for the foreseeable future. Not surprisingly, with more older Americans we have more people who need nursing home care. Sadly, that can lead to a corresponding likelihood of elder abuse because even is a nursing home has the best of intentions, the facility can be understaffed or workers may lack proper training. About five million seniors are abused each year, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the victims of financial abuse lose an estimated $36.5 billion to predators who prey in the elderly. While one in 10 older Americans experiences some type of elder abuse or neglect each year, fewer than one in 24 instances of elder abuse are ever reported.
Choosing the Right Nursing Home in New Hampshire
When tasked with finding the right nursing home for a loved one, you should start by during your research. Look for a history of complaints or violations. One place to look is the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman may have vital information and the Department accepts and investigates allegations of abuse. These can be valuable resources for you when trying to find a caring, compassionate, and safe nursing for your parent.
The next priority should be preparing questions to ask when you are visiting nursing home options. When you meet with administrators, have questions prepared to ask, such as:
- What is your patient to staff ratio?
- Do you have a licensed physician on the premises at all times?
- Can you provide me with a sample menu?
- What activities do residents engage in and how often?
- How do you handle resident or family complaints?
- Do you provide transportation for residents?
- What kind of experience and training does the staff have?
- What health care services are provided?
- Is medication administered?
- Is nursing care available 24/7?
- Is nursing care it provided by a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse?
- Are the rooms private? Are bathrooms private?
- What is the food like and how is it served?
- What activities are available for the residents?
- What is the procedure for complaints?
- Do you have social workers available?
- What is the cost and is anything not included in the monthly cost?
- Can you accommodate (fill in the blank with specific needs)?
Planning Visits to the Nursing Home
Once you have the options narrowed down to a manageable list, you should schedule an introductory meeting with the administrators at each potential nursing home. This will be a formal meeting when they are expecting you, meaning that everything will likely appear to work as intended and residents will likely appear happy and occupied. Because this picture may not paint a complete picture, you should also show up when they are not expecting you to see what your impression is of the facility and patients is when the staff is off guard. In addition, make an effort to talk to staff and/or residents that the administration did not steer you to and see what they tell you about the facility.
What If I Choose the Wrong Nursing Home?
Despite being diligent in your search for the right New Hampshire nursing home, you may later come to believe that your loved one is being abused or neglected at the facility. If that happens, try to confirm your suspicions; however, that may not be possible. You can also try to talk to the administrator about your concerns but that may also not yield positive results. Your best bet is to consult with an experienced elder law attorney to discuss your legal options. Elder abuse can be both a criminal offense and the basis for a civil lawsuit. Only an experienced attorney can help you decide which options works best in your situation. You may also want to discuss petitioning for guardianship so that you can represent your loved one’s best interests and so that you have the legal authority to remove him/her from the facility if necessary.
Do You Need Help Nursing Home Issues?
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you need help with nursing home issues or other elder law concerns, contact our elder law attorneys in our North Andover, Woburn, and Beverly offices at (978) 969-0331. Our Salem and Nashua, New Hampshire office can be reached at (603) 894-4141.
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