Placing a loved one in a nursing home in Virginia is a difficult choice for anyone. Even if caring for a parent, grandparent or other relative has become too much to handle in addition to managing a household and/or working full time, the decision is still fraught with uncertainty.
Many people wrestle with questions, such as: How do I know the facility is a safe place? What if something bad happens? And, perhaps most crucially: Can I trust the management and staff to have my loved one's best interests in their hearts and minds?
In the Hampton Roads area and throughout the state, many people have found that their loved ones' experiences did not live up to their expectations. In some cases, their relatives suffered abuse or neglect as a result of poor managerial oversight, shortcuts that compromised safety, and even physical, emotional or financial abuse from their so-called caregivers.
If You Suspect Something, Consider Taking Action
Of Virginia's nearly 300 nursing homes, about one-fourth have been hit with fines by the government for a wide range of violations in the last three years, according to a Medicare report. While some violations may not have a direct impact on resident care, such as not properly posting information about staffing, others are more serious. Many facilities were reprimanded for not investigating reports of abuse and even for hiring people known to have mistreated or abused people in their care.
Many nursing home facilities have good reputations and professional, experienced caregivers. However, if family members suspect something is amiss, it's important to keep some key points in mind.
- Do your homework. If your loved one tells you about abusive or neglectful behavior, try to find out for yourself -- particularly if your relative suffers from dementia-related conditions. Talk with administrators, staff members, and family members of other residents to see if they've experienced similar problems.
- See for yourself. Elderly people often bruise easily, even when they are well cared for. If you can't account for bruises, lacerations or other injuries to your loved one, it could be due to neglect or abuse.
- Speak up. The more involved you are in your relative's care -- and the more you advocate for them -- the more confidence you can have that they are being treated well. Residents whose families pay the bills but aren't around much aren't likely to have as much influence as a child, grandchild or other relative who is a regular presence.
If you need, consider legal options. Experienced personal injury and elder care attorneys in Virginia can advise you of your rights and what to do if you want to pursue a case.