In many cases, people are placed in nursing homes with little or no input by the patient or their family members. These situations are most often driven by finances, meaning those who have to rely upon government assistance have very little choice in many cases where their loved one is admitted. In those instances, a doctor will write an order, directing that the patient be transferred to a specific nursing home.
On occasion, people are limited geographically, meaning there may only be one or two choices in a geographical area. In these cases, choosing the best one may be further limited by available beds and space. Needless to say, the better facility is more likely to have a waiting list for an available room or bed.
However, in those instances where there is the option of choice, it is imperative that you become educated on the various facilities. Consider the facility or facilities that might be available, visit that facility, and tour the facility. Ask the administration whether they require the signing of an arbitration agreement or whether that can be waived by the patient or by the sponsor or family member who is admitting the patient.
Another suggestion is to find out how long the facility administrator has been with the facility, how long the facility’s head nurse has been there, and how long the facility has been owned by the company that operates it at that time. We see a large turnover of staff and administrative persons at nursing homes in the cases we review. And we also see nursing homes changing ownership quite often. The more turnover and the more recent the change of ownership, the more cautious people need to be.
Further, it’s advisable to do research online about the facility or facilities. One excellent source is Medicare.gov. Facilities that admit patients who receive benefits from Medicare and Medicaid are inspected and reports are kept by Medicare. The website requires the input of a ZIP code or the city and state where the nursing home is located. You can use this tool to search all nursing homes in that area or you can input the name of the specific nursing home and receive information about that facility.
A search by city will give you the names and addresses of the various facilities, and you can see how those facilities compare to each other per the rating system. Medicare rates the facilities by overall rating, health inspections, staffing and quality measures. If the user clicks on the facility name, substantial additional information can be obtained on that facility by following the links. Information that might be available includes the number of beds, who owns the facility, details of the health inspection, details of staffing, and details of quality measures. The health inspection link will also provide information about the type of complaints investigated in a given timeframe, along with the results of routine inspections.
Each state also has information available on its long-term care facilities. The amount and quality of information that is reported varies from state to state. For Alabama, nursing homes are monitored and inspected by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). That website is adph.org. By following the “health care facilities” link, important information can be ascertained in addition to that information mentioned above. One item that is available is “Tips for Selecting a Nursing Home.”
In addition to general information about nursing homes in Alabama, the user can also review the facility’s latest deficiencies as found in surveys (or inspections) done by the ADPH. Upon selecting the appropriate link, a list of every long-term care facility in Alabama can be found. By either searching for or scrolling down to the selected facility and then following the appropriate links, the deficiency reports are available to review.
In this information age, you may also do a general online search for a facility. There are other reporting agencies that compare nursing homes. There may also be message boards where others can report their experiences with the various facilities. The validity and reliability of the information will depend largely on the credibility of the source.
Lawyers in our firm continue to investigate cases of neglect and abuse by nursing homes. Hopefully, researching information on a potential long-term care facility will increase the odds that a loved one will receive the care and treatment that he and she deserve. As stated above, if you want more information on Nursing Home Litigation, contact Ben Locklar at 800-898-2034 or by email at Ben.Locklar@beasleyallen.com.
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