As the elderly population in the United States continues to rise and families opt for nursing home care over in-home services, ensuring our elderly population is properly cared for is more important today than ever before. The term “nursing home” often conjures negative images, as we commonly associate such places with the waste and loneliness that marked early facilities.
However, nursing home residents are our parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, veterans, and loved ones. This makes the decision to place someone who can no longer care for himself or herself in a facility for long term assistance a difficult choice, especially when we realize these individuals helped raise us and shaped our lives. Therefore, it remains important to keep in mind what you would want done for yourself and remember this decision is not a failing on your part as a caregiver. If you take the time to research and choose the best facility possible, you will be doing a great service to your loved ones by finding them a home that can ensure they receive the medical care and socialization with peers they deserve.
Nursing Home Regulations
Unfortunately, high level care has not always been available. Following frequent reports of elder neglect and abuse, in the late 1980s Congress enacted legislation mandating any nursing facility that accepts Medicare and Medicaid to follow certain quality of care requirements. Called the Omnibus Reconciliation Act (OBRA), this 1987 legislation was the largest overhaul of federal regulations for nursing homes. These standards include ensuring a sufficient nursing staff exists, residents receive adequate physical care, and each resident’s needs are considered independently by developing an individualized care plan.
Despite the introduction of stringent nursing home regulation, disturbing stories of abuse continue to appear in the media. While many facilities do provide excellent care, many do not. In an effort to maximize profits, these poor facilities are frequently understaffed and underpay employees, leading to resentment and frustration that can be transferred to patients in the form of abuse and neglect. Furthermore, staff members are often undertrained and facilities may lack basic safety measures and sanitation.
Unfortunately, these conditions leading to nursing home abuse can be concealed by a facility and staff, especially if outside visits are rare or if the patient cannot effectively communicate. Therefore, it remains essential the friends and family of nursing home residents know what to look for in order to determine if their loved ones are the victims of such abuse. Whether suffering physically or emotionally, we owe it to our seniors to protect and care for them when they are at their most vulnerable. Please read further to learn about the risks nursing home residents face and how you can ensure they continue to receive the care that allows them to lead the healthy and happy lives they deserve.