5 Traits of the Worst Nursing Homes and the Red Flags to Watch for Nursing Home Abuse

Date: May 29, 2014

Because nursing homes are expensive, not everyone can afford to live in the best facility. According to the annual Genworth 2014 Cost of Care Survey, which included over 14,800 care providers, the median annual rate of a private room in a nursing home is $87,600.

But if you want to avoid the worst of the worst nursing homes, what should you look for? Here are five red flags.

1. A History of Violations. Nursing homes are highly regulated by public and private agencies at the state and federal levels, but there are plenty of bad players in the industry. The good news is that if you do some research online, it’s easy to find out if a home has a reputation for substandard care.

U.S. News’s Best Nursing Homes 2014 features a search engine and ratings for some 16,000 nursing homes nationwide along with information on care, safety, health inspections and staffing for each facility. Overall ratings of one to five stars are assigned based on how the nursing home stacks up in three categories: state-conducted health inspections, how much time nurses spend with residents and the quality of medical care.

2. A Number of Severe Violations. “The key is quantity versus severity,” says Diana Pelella, a senior living advisor with A Place for Mom.”A community could have one violation for someone wandering off campus, which is a highly dangerous scenario, compared with another community that has 10 violations for soap dispensers not being the correct distance from the floor,” Pelella says. “Or they could be cited for cobwebs in the basement.”

She adds that prospective residents and their families have every right to review these records, but it’s important to put violations into perspective. If a community does have violations, Pelella says you should ask what was done to rectify the infractions.

3. High Staff Turnover. If a nursing home is a revolving door for staff members, that could be a telling sign, according to Pelella. “For example, I work with a community that is not overly fancy, but some of the key staff members have been there for 15 to 20 years,” she says.
Pelella adds: “Check for the interactions between residents and staff – do they call residents by name? Do the residents look comfortable? Does the staff seem happy or discontent? How are staff and residents groomed?”

4. The Residents Lack Independence. If your parent has Alzheimer’s or dementia, you don’t want him or her wandering in and out of the facility. But you don’t want your parent in a prison, either.

5. You Feel Uneasy in your Gut. Sometimes, you just know when a nursing home isn’t the place for your parent, says Michael Schulman, a member of the elder planning task force for the American Institute of Certified Personal Accountants.

“Is the place neat and orderly? Is the staff dressed cleanly and neatly?” Schulman asks. “Do they show respect to the residents? Are they wheeled around? How does the place smell? First impressions do make a big deal.”

He even suggests checking the second floor if there is one. “Sometimes that’s where they put the residents they don’t want you to see,” Schulman says.

In other words, if the place gives you the heebie-jeebies, it’s best to trust your instincts and try somewhere else.

If you suspect that you or someone you love has suffered a medical error or an adverse event from improper care at a nursing home or skilled nursing facility, don’t wait to take action. You have rights; there is no reason to tolerate such despicable behavior. Call an attorney today.

Attorney Sean McDonough has been a partner with Dougherty, Leventhal and Price for over twenty years. He specializes in personal injury cases, emphasizing, nursing home abuse cases. His experience with nursing home abuse cases provided him the opportunity to present expert witness testimony in a Congressional Hearing addressing the issue of sexual abuse in nursing homes in 2008. Allow Attorney McDonough to be a part of the solution. Don’t wait any longer call DLP today and schedule your meeting with Sean McDonough.

All information was gathered from the article titled 5 Traits of the Worst Nursing Homes by Geoff Williams. For more information please view the report at http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/05/07/5-traits-of-the-worst-nursing-homes

Sean McDonough
Upon graduation from law school, he entered the private practice of law with Dougherty, Leventhal & Price. He has been a partner with the firm since 1993. Over the years, Sean has concentrated his practice in the areas of personal injury litigation; he has also represented governmental entities and officials in federal civil rights and employment lawsuits. Sean also works on many of DLP's Nursing Home Abuse cases.