Once your loved one is admitted to a nursing home, the most important thing you can do is ensure they received good care. And the best way to do that is to be involved… be a care advocate.
Your key roles are to participate – actively! – in planning your loved one’s care, and to maintain frequent contact with nursing home staff.
This process begins with a baseline assessment, within two weeks after the new resident moves in. A team – possibly a doctor, nurse, social worker, dietitian, and physical, occupational, or recreational therapist – assesses information from both resident and family. This assessment then becomes the baseline against which progress is measured.
The team asks family members about the resident’s medical, psychological, spiritual, and social needs. You can also tell them about their preferences and routines.
It’s a good idea for the family to make their own list of needs, and to give it to the assessment team. For example, you may have noticed signs of depression, along with symptoms of Alzheimer’s. And this is important information.
Here’s a quick list for you to consider…
- medical needs.
- psychological needs.
- spiritual needs.
- social needs.
- preferences and routines.
The team then develops an individualized care plan, specifying the care required, and the strategies to address it. And you should know that family members – and the resident – can (and should!) participate in any planning meeting.
When you go to subsequent meetings, bring the list you gave them earlier. And if something’s been overlooked, bring it up!
Federal law requires that nursing home care result in improvement (if possible). If improvement isn’t possible, the care must maintain abilities or slow the loss of function. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s – which is progressive – the purpose of care should be to maintain mental and physical abilities for as long as possible. For example, if your mother still has the ability to communicate clearly, the care plan should encourage her use of language.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The care plan may be part of the nursing home contract. According to federal law, generally nursing homes must review a plan every three months, or whenever the resident’s condition changes. There must also be an annual reassessment. At these times additional meetings are held to update the plan.
It’s your job to monitor your loved one’s care, to ensure adherence to the plan. If you want your loved one to get the most personal attention possible – be a forceful advocate!
It’s a stressful process, to be sure. But we can help.
At The Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates, we’re Elder Law attorneys. And we walk families through this process every day. In fact, over the past 33 years we’ve walked thousands of South Florida families through the Elder Care Journey… as well as with estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, long-term care planning, asset protection, and issues with Medicaid or the VA.
We have the answers to your questions. And we’re just a phone call away.
Be Involved In Your Loved One’s Nursing Home Care!