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Nursing home warning signs

Selecting a nursing home is a decision that should not be put off until there is an emergency. Families may worry that their loved one will be neglected or abused in a nursing home. Doing research and watching for warning signs are the best methods to prevent nursing home abuse, serious injury or death.

An internet search on sites such as Medicare.gov can provide information on staffing violations, health inspections and other important factors. The severity of any federal or Illinois violation is an important factor. Nursing homes that were cited for significant or dangerous violations, such as allowing a resident to wander off-site, should be approached with skepticism.

Nursing homes may also be cited for minor violations, such as incorrect placement of soap dispensers. Even though this may not be disqualifying, administrators should be asked on how they corrected minor problems.

Incompetent or inaccessible administrators are also a major issue and can diminish the care provided. Trouble contacting an administrator is a sign to look elsewhere for care. Complaints from nursing home staff that they are overworked or stressed are also signs of an incompetent administrator.

A visit to a prospective nursing home can also reveal problems. Cleanliness, respect from staff and their conduct, and the appearance and mood of residents can be a sign of whether the facility is providing adequate and compassionate treatment.

Staff is also important. They should have access to continuing education and programs. The facility should not hire employees with a record of mistreatment or neglect. A licensed nurse should be at the facility throughout the day, while a registered nurse should be there at least eight hours daily. Frequent staff turnover, especially in its administrators, is a sign of problems.

An attorney can help residents and their families ensure that adequate and compassionate care is provided. They can also take legal action when nursing home abuse or neglect is present.

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