Nursing Homes – A brief look at the law
Your greatest fear and anguish now comes true – you must make the decision to place your mother or father in a nursing home. And then your greatest guilt comes when your mother or father is injured or mistreated in the nursing home.
You place your loved one in the nursing home because of the absolute need for skilled care or to give you a brief relief from your 36 hour day of working your job plus serving as the care provider for your mother or father. You give into this need because there is no other choice. And so you expect the nursing home to live up to its promises to take good care of your mother or father. When the promises are broken, your heart is broken too.
What can you do?
A complex network of Federal and State laws regulate the operations of nursing homes. These laws require the nursing home management and medical care providers to establish care plans for your mother and father. Then the plans must be reviewed every few months to make sure the plan is still a good one.
Regarding drugs and medications, every 3 months or so, the doctor must review the medications and reduce the amount of medication whenever possible. Some nursing homes have been found to over-medicate the patients in order to reduce demands on the staff.
The law requires the nursing home to maintain detailed charts of the care that is given, the medications given, and the diet that is given. You are entitled, as a family member, to read the chart. Sometimes the chart and reality are two different things.
The Director of Nursing of the nursing home facility has the primary responsibility to make sure that the necessary care is given and that the chart is properly recorded. When you have a concern, the Director of Nursing is the best person to talk to. When you do talk with the Director, be sure to have a pen and paper handy so you can take notes on what he/she tells you.
Remember, the nursing home is required by law to develop a comprehensive care plan for your mother or father. Ask to review the plan to see if you are satisfied that the plan meets the best interest of your mother or father.
I hope this overview about nursing homes is of help to your family and to you. Call me with your questions. And in the mean time, may God guide you and make your burden easier.
William C. Faber, Jr.