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What can I do to help prevent nursing abuse of my family member?

A:

Questions to prevent nursing home abuse

Nursing homes are required by law to do a thorough assessment of all their residents. The assessment is called a “minimum data set.” Nurses refer to this as the “MDS.” Once the assessment has been completed the nursing home is required to have a meeting to plan the type of care to be provided to the resident. This is called the care plan meeting.

The resident and family members must be invited to the meeting. People from the various healthcare disciplines who will be providing care must attend the meeting. The initial goal of the meeting is to create a “care plan,” that acts as a guide for the nursing home staff as to what type of care to provide and when.

The care plan meeting is an opportunity for family members to influence what the nursing home does for the resident. Since this meeting is required by law and the nursing home staff are required to invite the family, it is important that family members attend. If you cannot attend at a specific time, do not be shy about asking for the care plan meeting to be scheduled for another time when you can attend.

This is also one of the best opportunities to prevent nursing home abuse. Here are some topics to ask questions about that will make the point, among other things, that you are going to hold the nursing home staff accountable for providing good care:

  1. Are there any circumstances in which you would consider the use of restraints? If the nursing home has a “restraint-free policy” why do you think this is the safest for my family member?
  2. What are you going to do to make sure that my family member does not fall? Have you assessed my family member for the risk of falling and what is the result of that assessment?
  3. How are you going to make sure that my family member’s pain is well-controlled?
  4. Is my family member at risk for developing bedsores? If my family member cannot move around in bed, what are you going to do to make sure that the nurses turn and reposition her every two hours? Have you considered the use of a special pressure relief bed to help prevent bedsores? Why do you think the bed that is now being used is the best for my family member?
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