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What Can Family Members Do to Ensure Good Nursing Home Care?

Family members play an essential role when it comes to ensuring their loved ones receive good nursing home care. One of the most important things they can do is to be aware of the signs of abuse and trust their instincts if something feels amiss.

Hearing about the abuse and neglect that happens at some facilities can make an already difficult and emotionally fraught decision even harder. You may feel helpless and wonder how you can keep your loved one safe when you aren’t always there. There are ways you can monitor your loved one’s standard of care and report nursing home abuse if you see it.

5 Ways to Monitor Your Loved One’s Nursing Home Care

As a family member, you can help hold nursing home facilities to a higher standard of care by committing to monitoring your loved one and their health. By becoming more involved in your loved one’s care, you help prevent neglect and abuse that threatens resident safety. However, the signs of abuse and neglect aren’t always visible.

If you are concerned about your loved one and want to ensure they are receiving the best care possible, here’s what you can do:

  1. Visit as often as possible within reason
  2. Pay attention to the staff and their interactions with residents
  3. Watch out for signs of abuse
  4. Form (or join) a family council and monitor the facility as a group
  5. Go online and look up the home’s ratings

1. Visit Your Loved One

The best way for you to make sure your family member is safe and getting the care they need is to visit them regularly and watch their behavior.

When you are visiting your loved one find out what kind of choices they get to make. For example, is there any choice in the food served? Do they get to pick their bedtime? Can they participate in a variety of different activities on any given day?

Another good way to get a realistic picture of your loved one’s care is to change the time you visit. Don’t always go on Wednesday during your lunch break. Try to visit in the evenings, on weekends and over the holidays as well. By visiting at different times, you’ll be able to spot any inconsistencies in staffing and caregiving.

2. Observe Staffing, Cleanliness and Safety

During your visit, it’s important to keep your eyes open. Pay attention to the staff and make a note of any red flags you see.

During your visit to your loved one’s nursing home, ask yourself some of the following questions about the facility and the behavior of the staff:

  • Do staff members appear to be properly trained?
  • Do staff members wash their hands before interacting with the residents?
  • Does the facility have an infection prevention plan and does the facility review it annually?
  • Do the staff members know your loved one’s name?
  • Do staff spend more time talking to each other than they do interacting with the residents?
  • Do staff respond promptly when called for?
  • Do staff members respect the residents and do the residents respect them?

All of these behaviors can be good indicators of the quality of care your loved one may receiving. Any red flags that arise from these questions can help you better understand where neglect may be occurring.

3. Watch for Signs of Abuse and Neglect

While some signs of abuse may be more visible, such as unexplained broken bones, others, like getting sick a lot or mumbling, can be more subtle. However, if your loved one’s personality or behavior changes, or if there appears to be tension between them and their caregiver, it’s possible they are being abused.

If you are concerned about your loved one’s change in behavior and you suspect abuse or neglect, you should record your concerns and be alerted to any additional signs of abuse.

4. Form a Family Council to Monitor Together

Once you’ve moved your loved one into their new home, find out if the facility has a family council. If they don’t, then you could consider starting one.

Family councils are like the neighborhood watch of the nursing home.

The committee is designed to monitor the facility and advocate for the residents if they notice any concerns. Because you will not be the only one watching out for signs of neglect, some of the pressure will be taken off your shoulders.

5. Check Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare

Another way to ensure your loved one is receiving the best care possible is to look up the facility’s rating using Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare tool. Most nursing homes in the country are listed here with ratings in different categories.

Use Nursing Home Compare to determine the standard of nursing home care you can expect and to monitor any areas with poor ratings.

The nursing home should also have their inspection reports posted to the website or available through the administrator. According to government regulations, they should be able to provide you with copies from the past three years.

It can be hard to move your loved one into a nursing home, especially if you begin to suspect something is wrong. You can ensure a higher standard of nursing home care for your loved one by maintaining consistent records and monitoring regularly in case you need to take action.

Nursing Home Abuse Support Team

The Nursing Home Abuse Center (NHAC) was founded to bring justice to those affected by nursing home and elder abuse. Our mission is to educate and empower victims of abuse and their families to take a stand against this unlawful mistreatment. We work to return dignity back to those who have been broken down by nursing home abuse and neglect.

“How to Monitor the Care of a Loved One in a Nursing Home,” U.S. News. Retrieved from: Accessed March 5, 2019.

“7 Red Flags to Watch for When Choosing a Nursing Home,” U.S. News. Retrieved from: Accessed March 5, 2019.