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Taking action to advocate for your loved one in a nursing home is critical to their quality of life. Residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are disproportionately affected by the flu, pneumonia, COVID-19, and other contagious diseases. According to the American Family Physician Journal, a flu outbreak in a nursing home often affects 20 percent or more of the residents.
If you have a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, AARP has identified some specific questions to ask the facility administrators and staff to help ensure the safety of your family member. A well-run nursing home should be able to answer these questions and provide you with any additional details and reference materials to keep on hand. If not, you may want to talk to your elder law attorney about your concerns. They can help you make the decision to transfer to a better facility with a higher level of care.
Inquire about Regular Vaccinations
- What proportion of staff and residents are up to date on regular vaccinations? Compare these vaccination rates at any Medicare-certified nursing home to the state and national averages.
- How is the facility educating staff and residents regarding the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness?
- What type of access to vaccines do residents have?
Ask if Anyone has Tested Positive for Infectious Disease Recently
- Include staff, residents, visitors, vendors, maintenance workers, and anyone with access to the facility.
- How many people, if any, have tested positive?
- What is the facility testing protocol for symptomatic individuals?
Find Out the Steps the Facility Takes to Prevent Disease Outbreaks
- What are the screening protocols for staff and other people entering the facility?
- How are positive cases being handled after identification? Do staff quarantine at home? Do residents move into isolation units?
- What are the protocols for sanitizing the facility, and how often are they implemented?
- Are there social distancing measures in place? What are the precautions for residents with roommates?
Learn How the Nursing Home Helps Residents Stay Connected with Loved Ones
- What are the infection control measures for visitors?
- Does nursing home staff help residents call their loved ones via phone or video?
- Will the facility set up a regular schedule for residents to speak with family and loved ones?
Determine the Frequency of Important Communication with Residents and Loved Ones
- If there is an outbreak of an infectious disease within the facility, how long will it take to notify residents and their families or representatives?
- How is the information shared?
Find Out if the Nursing Home is Fully Staffed with Doctors, Nurses, Aides, and Other Workers
- In the event of staffing shortages, what are the backup plans to ensure the needs of nursing home residents are met? The plan should include bathing, feeding, physical therapy, medication management, and social engagement.
Ask about the Maintenance of Healthy-Living Programs
- Are communal activities adapted for social distancing in exercising, entertainment, and socialization?
- Are any services suspended, and if so, which ones? Why?
If you have a spouse, parent, sibling, or other loved one living in a nursing home, they depend on you to advocate for their protection and well-being. Asking the right questions helps ensure that their nursing home facility or long-term care services prioritize their health.
At Russo Law Group, P.C, our attorneys advocate for seniors to ensure their healthcare environment is safe. Please contact us if you have concerns about your loved one’s nursing home, how it operates, or the qualifications and availability of the staff when you need them. While many facilities provide excellent care and protection against infectious disease, there are those that don’t. We can help remedy an unsatisfactory situation.