Understaffed: Nursing Homes in Need of Help

When it comes to our elderly loved ones, we want them to have the best care. Sometimes, that means putting them into a nursing home that can focus on them, nurture them, and make sure they’re okay when you can’t be there. While this may be your goal when it comes to putting them into a nursing home, there is a crisis at hand. Nursing homes across the U.S. are understaffed. Which, in turn, may lead to your loved one not receiving the care that was intended for them. In any case, if you notice that your loved one’s nursing home is not up to par, it may be time to consider another facility. However, making sure that they don’t face the same issue, is extremely important.

Understaffed: Nursing Homes in Need of Help

This issue is a prevalent, and troublesome, one for elderly care facilities. However, it’s an even larger issue for the residents at hand. Due to the lack of staff, many residents are not getting the necessary care that they need to maintain their quality of life. Furthermore, many residents in understaffed nursing homes are susceptible to bedsores, malnutrition, dehydration, pneumonia, and serious infection. Ultimately, those in a nursing home need the care provided by nursing staff. Therefore, when that staff is not available, many of them will be stuck, in need of medication, and help to perform basic maneuvers.

Is it the nursing home’s fault?

Many elderly people are on a strict regimen when it comes to medications, diet, and bathroom procedures. Therefore, when those needs fall to the wayside— it can lead to those complications listed above. But, who deserves the blame? Where does the problem start? 95% of nursing homes in America are understaffed, but who’s to blame for this statistic? Many nursing homes face fines and penalties for not having the correct amount of staff. But, many nursing homes fall through the cracks over and over again, because the problem is so widespread.

When it comes down to it, it isn’t our job to fix the problem. But, rather, to avoid it when it comes to making sure our loved ones are in a safe place. So, do your research. Make multiple visits to the facilities— both planned, and unplanned. Maybe even consider volunteering a few hours one day. By doing this, you’ll be able to get a good feel for the environment, how the patients feel about it, and whether the level of care is to your standards. At the end of the day, it’s our job to make sure our loved ones are receiving proper care, and putting that trust into someone else is a big deal. Make sure you do your due diligence beforehand.

Choosing a Safe, Quality Nursing Home For Your Loved One

If you’re entertaining the idea of putting your friend or family into a nursing home— it’s important to do your research. Elder abuse, unfortunately, is a common occurrence in many assisted living facilities. So, it’s important to pick a safe, and reputable one. But where do you start? Lucky for you, we’ve done our research, and put together a guide for picking a quality nursing home. That way, you can focus on your family member— we’ve got the rest.

Choosing a Safe, Quality Nursing Home For Your Loved One

Start by figuring out what’s important to you

What kind of criteria do you need the nursing home to meet? What do you expect the nursing home to be like, and provide in terms of services? There are plenty of nursing homes that focus on different aspects. Whether those focuses be hands-on hospice type care, luxury apartment style, special care, religion, physical therapy… You should begin by establishing what you expect of the place you choose, and work backwards from there.

Reach out for feedback

The wonderful thing about our day and age is that people are oversharing. While we distaste it sometimes, it’s pretty great when you need feedback. Ask your Facebook community, check out Google reviews, talk to friends, even look to Yelp. The point is, you’ll find out the most important information by reading and speaking with people that have a first hand account.

Write down your questions

It can be overwhelming when you’re at the facility for the first time. You’re taking it in, checking for signs of trouble, and trying to decide if it’s a strong fit for your family member. So, it can be easy to forget to ask questions. But, there are plenty of important questions to ask. So, put it in writing— as well as their responses. You’re likely looking into more than one place; you don’t want to get the wires crossed.

Visit twice, one time unannounced

You’ve already visited once and asked all your questions. You likely called ahead and told them you’d be making a visit so that you could talk to someone specific. While this is a great thing to do, and will help you get a good feel for the place— visiting one more time unannounced might give you a more authentic view of the place than your organized visit. You want to catch them off guard and see how the day to day operations go. Doing so, will likely make your decision much easier.

If you’ve picked a winner— make sure you understand the contract

Read it carefully, ask questions, and don’t agree to anything you’re uncomfortable with. Ultimately, this choice will be quite personal to you. You’re making a big decision, and putting a lot of trust into this nursing home. It’s not unfair of you to be extremely thorough, and if they treat it as a burden— they are likely not the place for you. So, take the time, put in the work, ask the questions, and make the best choice for your loved one. We wish you luck as you go forth on your search!

Nursing Home Abuse: Reporting An Incident 

If you, or someone you know, are under the impression that their loved one is facing nursing home abuse — your number one concern is stopping the abuse, and getting them to a safe place. No one deserves to face abuse, especially in a nursing home. A nursing home is supposed to be a safe place, a home, and a comfortable atmosphere. When a nursing home becomes the exact opposite of that, it’s time to make a change. But where do you start? And, most importantly, how do you report and end the abuse?

Nursing Home Abuse: Reporting An Incident

This type of abuse can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. It is not uncommon that an elderly patient is alone for long periods of time. Therefore, when a family member does appear— they likely will not think much of weight loss, a lack of communicating, or emotional withdrawal. Aside from this factor, there is also the consideration that many elderly people will suffer from memory loss. Therefore, there is the possibility that they are facing abuse and simply, do not remember.

Nursing home abuse is not just physical

Another reason that nursing home abuse can be difficult to diagnose is because it doesn’t always mean physical abuse. There are cases of this. But, there are also plenty of cases where a family member or employee is taking advantage of them sexually, financially, or by neglect.

What are some signs of nursing home abuse? There are plenty of them, and you can find a more in-depth piece on that here. But, a few things to watch out for are: emotional withdrawal, rapid weight loss, withdrawal, bedsores, bruises, sudden changes in power of attorney or will… the list goes on and on.

How do I report?

Depending on the state in which you live, the information you need may vary. For general inquiries, you can call the Eldercare Locator at (800) 677- 1116 and they will be able to guide you by state. But, if you’d rather look at print resources, you can go to the National Center on Elder Abuse, here, and check out their resources page. It will give you who to call, what your next step should be, and people that can help.

These are great steps to take, and very much in the right direction. But if there is severe, repetitive abuse occurring— call your local law enforcement as a first step.

Elder Abuse: Knowing The Signs and Reporting an Incident 

If or when the time comes that you have to put a family member into a nursing home or assisted living facility, your upmost concern is likely that of safety. You want to make sure that your family member is well taken care of, safe, and happy. When you’re deciding on a nursing home or assisted living facility, it’s important that you do your research. While you might not want to think about it, elder abuse is quite common— especially in nursing homes. So, taking that extra time to select a quality facility can make all the difference in the world.

Elder Abuse: Knowing The Signs and Reporting an Incident

How do you characterize elder abuse?

Elder abuse can happen in a number of different ways. From sexual abuse, physical, financial, emotional, isolation; But, what makes it so difficult to diagnose is that it can come from anywhere. Not to mention, often, those family members who are being put into a nursing home aren’t able to fend for themselves. So, this makes them incredibly susceptible to abuse in many forms.

Who is doing it?

Ultimately, any member of the family, staff, or visiting parties can be the perpetrator. In almost 60% of elder abuse cases, a family member is the abuser. It could be their own children, spouses— anyone. So, you have to make sure you’re watching for the warning signs.

But, what are the warning signs?

The warning signs can be anything from bedsores, bruises, sudden weight loss, depression, frequent arguments with a caretaker, detachment from reality, lack of speaking… ultimately, any behavior that is outside that person’s norm can be a sign of elder abuse. The key is to watch for those changes and keep an open line of communication with the person. If you’re their designated caretaker, you likely know them better than anyone else. Honor that by picking up on those nonverbal and verbal cues.

What can I do if I find out, or suspect, this is happening?

If you’re positive of the abuse, call law enforcement. Abuse in any form is punishable by law, no matter who’s doing it. But, if you don’t know for sure— contact Adult Protective Services. There are plenty of online forums, help networks, and law enforcement that will have your back in the event of an issue. You don’t have to go at this alone. If you see something, say something. We wish you luck as you fight for the rights of those who cannot do so themselves.

Decubitus Ulcers Bedsores | Preventable But Deadly

Bedsores or Decubitus Ulcers Are Always Preventable If Proper Care is Given Graveyard

As a former Registered Nurse (RN), attorney Robert J. Reeves used to treat patients in the Intensive Care Unit who were clinging to life from a Stage IV decubitus ulcer or bedsore. This is a critical care situation where there is massive tissue, muscle, and even bone loss. After bedsore begins, immediate and aggressive treatment must be undertaken to prevent more damage from blocked circulation and resulting infection. If the infection gets into the person’s bloodstream, they become “septic” and will die if the infection cannot be controlled and then reversed.

The body suffers extremely high fevers, and the immune system is overwhelmed by infection. Blood cultures are drawn repeatedly, and massive doses of antibiotics are given to try and save the patient’s life. So how does such a life-threatening condition begin? It starts when an immobile or bedridden person is not given proper hydration and nutrition and is not turned properly to prevent bedsores from forming.

In most situations, we see nursing home residents and patients with head injury or paraplegia cases. In elderly patients, inattentive care by staff can allow residents to become malnourished and dehydrated which sets up a perfect scenario for bedsores to start. They tend to become less mobile and even bedridden. If not encouraged to ambulate or left in bed or a wheelchair for several hours, skin breakdown can occur. If not detected promptly or skincare measures not employed, decubitus ulcers can quickly deteriorate, often within days. At that point, aggressive inpatient medical treatment will be required in an already immunosuppressed patient. If sepsis develops, many elderly patients simply cannot overcome the infection and will pass.

With head injury cases, these patients are being cared for in hospitals and by specially trained professional staff. They have specifically designed beds that constantly “move” in an attempt to prevent decubitus formation. The staff monitor fluid intake, usually by IV, and nutrition is supplied through a tube directly into the stomach. Many of these patients are on ventilators to breathe and are fighting to recover from a traumatic brain injury. If properly monitored and turned regularly, bedsores never get a chance to start. On reddened areas, skin integrity must be maintained by applying lotions and regular massaging to maintain proper circulation to the area.

Paraplegia and quadriplegia patients are, of course, the most vulnerable to bedsore formation and must be protected by hypervigilant care. Special care must be given at all times but especially during transport by ambulance for procedures and follow-up care. I have a recent case where a paraplegic patient was left on a hard stretcher for several hours waiting for an MRI scan. During that relatively brief period, the patient was not turned or repositioned. Several “reddened areas” in the usual “pressure points” were not detected, and skin breakdown started in just a few hours. People who are paralyzed already suffer from decreased circulation and are chronically undernourished and borderline dehydrated. As a result, bedsores quickly deteriorate without immediate and aggressive medical intervention. In this case, the patient died in her thirties after just a few days. How can this happen so fast? It is the deadly combination of inadequate hydration, nutrition, systemic circulation issues, and lowered immune response. No matter what the excuse is given, bedsores are completely preventable in all cases. The more frail and vulnerable the patient; the more care is required. When proper care is not given, deadly results can occur quickly.

Nurse Investigated For Pill Theft in North Carolina

A Lincolnton, NC woman was fired this past week from her job as a nurse for allegedly taking prescription medication from the hospital.  Now, authorities with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the incident.

According to the Lincoln County, NC Sheriff, the Sheriff’s Office received a call on February 4th regarding a disobedient employee.  The Sheriff did not release the name of the nurse but said she had been fired because it was believed she was stealing a certain prescription medication.  The woman is apparently from Gaston County, NC, but the Sheriff said she has not been charged with any crimes yet, but charges would be pending the results of his investigation.

Also, Carolina HealthCare System is investigating the allegations and incident to determine more information.  The Hospital in Lincoln said that it is fully cooperating with any investigation by the Sheriff’s Office and would assist them in any matter brought before them.

If you or someone you know is facing prosecution for possession of a controlled substance, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken, and Hightower to consult with one of our criminal lawyers.  Our criminal attorneys handle many types of criminal cases in North and South Carolina and want to help you with your criminal drug charges.  We are licensed in both North and South Carolina, where you can contact us at 704-499-9000 or 877-374-5999 toll-free.