When it comes to elder abuse, there are both obvious and not-so-obvious signs of it occurring. There are certain red flags in a nursing home that indicate the facility is not meeting even the most basic standards that affect resident quality of life. There are subtleties are important to look out for; elder abuse is far more likely to fly under the radar when organizational disarray becomes the operational norm.
Searching for a care facility can be an exciting experience. There are many qualities and amenities we actively look for: How high-end is it? What kind of activities do they offer? Is it peaceful, or is there commotion? Does the food look tasty? Do I like the staff members?
It can be easy to become distracted by exciting aspects, but it’s important to remain vigilant regarding cleanliness, safety, and mental well-being. We know you want the best for your loved one, so we’ve listed 5 red flags to look out for when touring nursing homes.
1. Visiting Restrictions
Visitation to nursing homes may be restricted for various reasons, including reducing the risk of an outbreak among residents, reducing stress on residents, and for staff to effectively and efficiently run the facility without excessive disruption.
However, if the nursing home restrictions make the facility feel more like a prison than a home, it’s important to ask yourself (and the facility) why that is. Facilities must balance keeping their residents happy and healthy and their own interests in running an efficient operation. When the running of the facility comes before the importance of the role a family can play in the well-being of a resident, it’s best to reconsider whether your values are aligning.
2. Negative Online Presence
Another red flag you will not see while touring a facility is the online reviews and comments about the facility. Almost no business is immune from bad reviews every once in a while. It’s in the nature of dealing with other human beings. However, if there is a recurring pattern of negative feedback (especially suspected elder abuse) in their online presence, it’s best to take these reviews at face value.
3. Quality of Staffing
While you won’t be able to meet every staff member, take note of how the ones you see treat residents. Do they remember resident names? Do they seem happy at work, or are they begrudgingly performing tasks? What is the staff-to-resident ratio? Even the happiest and most hardworking staff members cannot adequately care for your loved one if they are spread too thin. The best way to find this information is to ask current residents about their experience, if possible.
4. Unsafe or cluttered spaces
Any space in a nursing home should be clutter-free and kept reasonably tidy. If you notice obstacles in the way, untidy areas, or otherwise unsafe conditions in the facility, you should take note and see if anybody on the staff notices. As our loved ones get older, they are more prone to injuries and falling, so it is especially important to limit accidents and injury.
5. Appearance and attire of other residents
When looking at facilities, be sure to take notice of the current residents and their appearance. Firstly, grooming is important. Residents at the facility should have trimmed nails, clean clothing, combed hair, smell reasonably well, and have a clean face and body. It’s a good idea to look for positive signs of employees going above and beyond for residents. It is a plus if you see signs of, for example, painted nails, healthy and glowing skin, freshly shaved/trimmed facial hair, well-matched or well-styled clothing, an appreciation for fitness, and more.
Additionally, clothing and accessories should reflect the conditions outdoors. If it is cold outside, residents should not be in spring attire. Clothing should minimize the possibility of residents becoming ill or otherwise unwell due to the conditions outdoors. Residents should be in summer attire with sunscreen on if there is record heat out.
Experienced Elder Abuse Attorneys Near You
It can be easy to become distracted by the bells and whistles of a new nursing home, but it is important to take note of red flags to prevent elder and nursing home abuse down the line. Your loved one deserves to feel safe, protected, and secure. If you suspect elder abuse is occurring, don’t hesitate to reach out and talk to an experienced elder abuse attorney.